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BLOG: Holland speaks to Oilers early success

"Going into a game and believing your best is good enough to win, I think that we're in the process of developing that," Oilers GM and Pres. of Hockey Ops Ken Holland said

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - It's the sum of many, many moving parts.

But for General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland, it's the theme of early success experienced by the Oilers at the one-third mark of the '19-20 NHL campaign.

Through the eyes of the Oilers executive, top spot in the Pacific Division with a 16-7-3 record has been the product of contributions throughout the lineup. That starts with the Dynamic Duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid that's created an eight-point gap of separation in the NHL's scoring race on the trailing pack with 48 and 47 points, respectively.

"Certainly Connor and Leon on the offensive side of things have ticked off all the boxes in terms of team scoring and power play," Holland said on Monday in an interview with 630CHED and Oilers Now Host Bob Stauffer.

Those contributions have trickled down to special teams, where Holland's summer acquisition James Neal has notched 10 of his 14 tallies for his new side. But for Holland, the greatest contributions have come a man down where they hold the League's second-best penalty kill (86.7 percent) to go along with their second-ranked power play (32.4 percent).

"I think sometimes you can score on the power play, but give it right back on the penalty kill," Holland said. "A third of the way through, our penalty-killing has been a real story. That again comes down to the coaching staff, the players buying in, and obviously goaltending."

Between the pipes, the Oilers have had two solid options in Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith to lean on.

When injury on the blueline came to Adam Larsson in the first contest of the season, the club received youthful injections when Ethan Bear heard opportunity knock even louder after making the roster out of Camp before Caleb Jones seized his moment to make contributions earlier this month.

"It's about depth and people stepping in when given the opportunity," Holland said. "When you're healthy, they know their role is to be ready to support their teammates. I think as we're at the 26-game mark, we've come a long way in my mind since the start of Training Camp."

Underlying every positive storyline is a fostered culture of winning brought by Holland and his head coach appointee Dave Tippett that the Oilers GM believes is still growing.

"Finding ways to win; it can't always be pretty," he said. "I think every time you can find a way to win and add, the belief grows. The confidence grows. Going into a game and believing your best is good enough to win, I think that we're in the process of developing that."

Holland continued: "The first order of business is to keep our foot on the pedal. We need to find a way to play our way into the playoffs, and then you have to make some noise in the playoffs. But I also think we're trying to develop a culture. We're a group and we find ways, everybody's got a role, and I think that's a credit to the leadership on the ice, the players, it's a credit to the coaching staff, the players in the locker room to accept their roles and to buy in because it's for the good of the group."

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