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4 in a Row?: Ekholm’s Offensive Contributions Crucial for Oilers

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm has made quite the splash in round two. In all three games of the series, Ekholm has found a way to put the puck in the back of the net. The Swedish-born defenseman has tied his career high for goals in the postseason in a single series, with three goals in three games. With his elevated scoring, the Oilers tied a club record for most goals by defensemen in the first 3 games of a playoff series. A feat that has proven vital for the Edmonton Oilers.

Since Ekholm’s acquisition in 2022, he has become a vital component of the Edmonton Oilers. Ekholm plays a consistent game—a consistency on the back end that’s been lacking in Edmonton for years. But Ekholm isn’t just a great defender. While not known for his offensive prowess, his goal-scoring is key to Edmonton maintaining their competitive edge in the playoffs. Furthermore, the need for offensive defensemen has skyrocketed in recent years. Teams that have an offensive defenseman on their roster are more dangerous; they add another layer of potency to a team. The Oilers now have two.

Why is Ekholm and the Oilers’ Defensive Scoring so Important?

The Vancouver Canucks defense has made it infinitely more difficult for the top lines to produce. Players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl often draw large crowds when they have the puck, taking attention off the trailing forward and leaving the defensemen open. To stop them, the Canucks play a physical brand of hockey. It means the Canucks might get caught chasing the big hit.

Players like Ekholm use that to their advantage, often jumping up on rushes they normally wouldn’t. As a result, the defensemen are huge contributors to the offensive game. Coupled with the underperforming bottom six, the importance of the Oilers’ offensive defenseman has become immeasurable. Defensive scoring is something Edmonton needs to stay afloat. 

Mattias Ekholm Oilers scoring playoffs

Round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs has placed a spotlight on defensive scoring, and Ekholm has stepped up immensely. The Oilers have been forced to adapt their game. They’ve been trying to find a way to put the puck in the back of the net, and so far they’ve found a way in Ekholm. His scoring has kept Edmonton in the series, but the Oilers need their bottom six to step up if they want to keep their Cup dreams alive. No team can survive on defensive scoring alone. 

Edmonton takes on the Canucks in Game 4 tonight. Down 2-1 in the series, they’ll need scoring from more than just McDavid, Draisaitl, and Zach Hyman. If Evan Bouchard can keep doing his thing and Ekholm keeps kicking in, the hope is that the scoring from all areas of the ice provides more opportunity for depth forwards to contribute as well and even things up.

Next: Did Oilers’ Draisaitl Slam Silovs? Is Hitting the Post Good Goaltending?

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