Thoughts on the Oilers: Chasing Optimism

Dead last in the conference. Sitting at 6-10-2. Brutal.

img003Quick rundown of the season:

  • At home: 1L, 4W, 4L
  • On the road: 5L, 2W, 1L
  • Overall: 5L, 4W, 4L, 2W, 3L.

It’s easy to pick this team apart. For one, they’ve struggled at different areas like goaltending, defence and centre. And second, we have experience dissecting a bad team as it’s been the same story since 2006. We know what a bad team looks like, right?

But unlike the past few years, there has been progress. The 12 (!!) forwards look like a legit NHL group. RNH is growing into a star. And the underlying stats are pointing to an improved puck possession team. Unfortunately, the wins aren’t coming, so the frustration is starting to build among the masses. And preaching patience isn’t going to work on a fanbase that has been waiting for a competitive NHL team since 2006.

Sapp made a fantastic point that pretty much summed up my general outlook on the Oilers:

The last three losses have been extremely frustrating. Each game featured stretches of terrible play by the Oilers. The first period in Nashville where they got outplayed and outshot, resulting in a 3-0 defecit was a perfect example. The Oilers did manage to score a couple to make it close, but they couldn’t recover from the hole they dug themselves into. When a team comes out flat like that, I tend to fault the coaches whose sole purpose is to implement a strategy and get the right guys deployed. My concern this past week has been that adjustments appear to be made at the intermission rather than during the period. Regardless of the reason, the club is losing a lot more 1-goal games and just aren’t finishing their chances. You’d think this will turn around soon, but then the club keeps giving the cherry minutes to Shultz, scratching Marincin from the lineup, and musing about adding Gazdic to the roster.

Tough stretch of games coming up against western conference teams who the Oilers, for whatever reason, can’t beat. Absolutely bizarre.

Quick point on analytics: It’s a highly personal thing. There are common methods to uncover patterns in data, but the value we put into the data depends on our own biases and interpretation of the game. For instance, Corsi/Fenwick are great. But I tend to value shots on goal and shot differential higher. Just do.  And also keep in mind that analytics has, in my opinon, enhanced the overall discussion of the game. It won’t explain everything, and it might not always make sense, but it’s a much more engaging starting point than “Hemsky is the first guy off the ice at practice…”.

Recommended Links

Oilers are taking positive steps – TSN

Season fancystats updateafter 15 games – Boys on the Bus

If the Oilers’ advanced stats are so good, why don’t they win hockey games? – Oilersnation

One of these nights – Lowetide

The Yandle Treatment – Woodblog

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