Artillery types

BLOG: Heavy Artillery |

EDMONTON, Alta. – For years, the question in Edmonton has been, “Who’s going to play with Connor and Leon?”

It seems the Oilers have finally found the answer.

Zach Hyman and Evander Kane have been a game-changer for the Blue & Orange, making major contributions in both the regular season and the playoffs with 65 goals to their name (33 for Hyman, 32 for Kane) so far.

What sets the pair apart from previous Dynamic Duo teammates is how well they are able to score those goals. Hyman and Kane have heaps of skill, but they’ve paired it with sandpaper and don’t have to rely on finesse when the game isn’t tilting in their favor. Their unique skills have helped round out the Oilers lineup with a combustible mix of skill, speed and grit.

“I think it was the players we missed a bit in the past,” Leon Draisaitl said about Hyman and Kane. “Established players, players who know how to play in the playoffs and have been there.”

“They’re both playoff-type players,” Draisaitl added. “They thrive in those conditions. They’ve both had great seasons so far, they’ve been great in the playoffs for us. They’re two key guys for us.”

Video: RAW | Leon Draisaitl, Tyson Barrie 23.05.22

Both Kane and Hyman entered the playoffs with previous playoff experience — Kane played in 29 playoff games with the San Jose Sharks, while Hyman played in 32 games during his six seasons with the Maple Leafs. Toronto. What the pair had yet to do was produce at the elite level they have in this year’s race. Kane currently leads the NHL in playoff goals with 10, while Hyman is tied for seventh with six pucks from his former opposing goaltenders.

“Scoring in the playoffs isn’t really about finesse or skill. That’s why guys like that thrive in those situations,” Draisaitl said. “They know how to score lousy goals, draws, whatever you want to call it. They go into the tough areas where it hurts sometimes and not everyone wants to go there. Obviously they have a knack for putting the puck in the net.”

The willingness to go into tough areas but with a top six-worthy skill set allowed both players to shine. Kane has used his sharp shot to beat goalkeepers with great success in these playoffs, but like last night in Game 3, he can light the lamp near the blue paint with his three hat-trick goals coming a few minutes. feet of Jacob Markstrom.

Video: [email protected], Gm3: Kane records a hat trick in 6:00

Hyman has also been a force to be reckoned with so far in the Battle of Alberta. The 29-year-old has scored in every game of the series showing his ability to protect the puck, get away from defenders and use his deft touch in front of the Flames net.

Hyman’s best moment of the series came in Game 2, when he beat Selke Trophy nominee Elias Lindholm in a run and landed a crossbar shot over Markstrom’s glove. on a shorthanded breakaway for what would be the eventual game-winning goal. in Calgary.

Video: [email protected], Gm2: Hyman takes advantage of the breakaway

The closest the Oilers came to replicating the success of Hyman and Kane was the year of their final playoff run in 2016-17, when a still semi-floating Milan Lucic and Pat Maroon’s heavy frame helped to strengthen a young Oilers rank in the top six. The duo scored 50 goals in the regular season, but only five in the Oilers’ 13 playoff games.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, Lucic’s game never reached the same heights as it did in this playoff season, with the burly forward having never scored more than 10 regular season NHL goals since that run. Maroon was sent to the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline, eventually earning a Stanley Cup hat-trick with St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

Where Kane and Hyman have the edge over the former Oilers’ beefy forwards is the extra gear needed to get up and down the ice with two of the best players on the planet. The 21-22 Oilers offer speed across the lineup, but there’s no shortage of juice in the current top six.

“I think we obviously have a good skating group, we’re a fast team, we play at a high pace when we play our game,” Draisaitl said. “Those two guys, they’re bigger but they can move and they can skate, they’re big for our team. They push the pace, they hang on pucks and they make it tough for the other team.”

Video: RAW | Jay Woodcroft 05.23.22

The pair was an absolute home run for Oilers GM & Pre. Ken Holland hockey operations. When Hyman signed a seven-year contract with the Oilers in free agency and when the club reached out to sign Kane in January, it was for times like these.

For Kane, that’s exactly what he envisioned when he made the decision to join Blue & Orange.

“I’m just happy to be part of this group,” Kane said. “It’s fun when you win, and you want that feeling to last as long as you can. I’m just trying to do my part to bring what I can to this team and help us succeed.”