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GENE'S BLOG: No 'I' in Team

In his latest blog, Gene Principe takes a look at the cast of characters across the team who have made an impact in these playoffs so far

by Marc Ciampa /

It is becoming increasingly clear every day and every game that the Edmonton Oilers are not just Connor McDavid and some other guys. I know sometimes it has felt like that since the generational talent arrived on the scene. Hey my daughter, who loves McDavid, always says how come you ask everyone about him? Teammates, opponents, coaches, management, cleaning ladies, fast food drive thru attendants and just about anyone else who will listen to me.

I mean even to start this series I've done, then done it again and then one more time the Connor McDavid/Ryan Kesler shadowing angle. My guess is I'll do it again but for now let's focus on everyone around McDavid. They would be the Edmonton Oilers.

It is sometimes difficult to not gravitate to the Oilers captain and stay there. I guess we, the media, are sometimes like the Anaheim Ducks. We pay all our attention to one player. I see that is changing with the Ducks and it is with the media and fans of the NHL. I point first and foremost to Cam Talbot who still gets questions about being Henrik Lundvist backup. That's so two years ago. It might be time to stop talking about King Henrik and start talking about Count Cam (a count is ranked between highest and lowest titles of nobility). After Game 2 and in fact after his season I'll go with the highest nobility and he wouldn't be the only one.

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm2: Talbot shines with 39 saves in win

King Leon (sorry Henrik) works for me. This kid is a stud of a hockey player. A third-overall pick which at least makes him draft royalty. He has earned any and all accolades funneled his way. When you have the number one scorer in the NHL, it stands to reason the number eight scorer can get lost in comparison. Draisaitl is doing his best to make sure that comes to a complete stop. How can you not notice this kid? Again it's a case of his on-ice play opening eyes previously closed towards the Oilers or simply focused on one Oiler wearing number 97. If he was enjoying life flying under the radar, sorry I think that's about over so enjoy your final few hours of anonymity. Your point production is the reason it's all coming to an end.

There's also a couple defencemen who should be mentioned like Adam Larsson. Did you know he was traded for Taylor Hall? If you didn't you're about the only one in the hockey world who doesn't and the only person who hasn't asked him about it. The good news about Larsson's two goals in Game 1 is they led Edmonton to a win. The bad news, it meant more questions about a trade 10 months old. He may be tired of the deal dialogue but he shrugs his shoulders and says for the 124th time he's long moved on. He is another player who would have fallen in the unknown category.

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm1: Larsson pots second for late lead

You could say the same about his defensive partner and fellow Swede. They have more in common than just their home country. Oscar Klefbom is starting to look as good on the ice as he does off it. Naturally gifted with good looks, his hockey gifts are becoming more and more noticeable as well. The 'Klef-bomb' from the point is becoming a shot heard 'round the league. It was his late goal in Game 5 versus San Jose which pushed Edmonton to overtime. It led to an OT winner, a series lead and eventual win against the Sharks. Slowly he has come around and is cresting towards being a legitimate number one NHL defenceman.

It should be mentioned Connor McDavid is the first to mention his teammates and maybe we should start doing the same. The Oilers would not be where they are without him but he wouldn't be where he is without them. There is no 'i' in team and the Edmonton Oilers are proving why that's the case in the 2017 NHL Playoffs.

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