Thoughts on the Oilers: Shot differentials under Nelson; Keeping Fasth; Pre-Pronger Era

Anaheim Ducks v Edmonton OilersWith Nelson behind the bench, the overall perception of the Oilers has improved as they’ve started winning games. Even though Nelson has only won three in regulation since Eakins was fired, there’s a general sense of optimism that the team just might start turning it around. Unfortunately, they’ve been getting outshot quite regularly, which never ends well for a club.

2014-15 Oilers Shot Differentials (5on5)
Coach Games % of shots shot differentials
Eakins 31 49.4% -18
MacT/Nelson 5 45.1% -23
Nelson 16 45.0% -71

The team is getting the wins, but it shouldn’t hide the fact that the club is still weak in a number of areas. I’ve liked Derek Roy’s play and hope the Oilers can either sign him or at least be inspired to seek out a legit NHL centerman. The defence is still in need of an NHL player or three. And the goaltending, which hasn’t been awful as of late, will likely get revamped for the 2015 season.

Glad to see Fasth getting some starts.  He’s looked pretty good, especially the other night against Pittsburgh when the rest of the team played terribly for the majority of the game. His 5-on-5 save percentage (adjusted) has been respectable  in 2015. Whether that’s because of the head coaching change or the new goaltender coach is anyone’s guess. Thought I’d break it out by coach and goalie coach.

Adjusted Save% (5on5)
Head Coach Scrivens Fasth
Eakins 90.28 88.97
MacT/Nelson 89.55 66.96
Nelson 90.68 93.25
Adjusted Save% (5on5)
Goalie Coach Scrivens Fasth
Chabot 90.03 86.97
Schwartz 90.59 91.00

Source: War on Ice

The team is leaking shots at an alarming rate, so Fasth will have to continue standing on his head to bail out his team. He should be the guy the team goes forward with, but will likely be shipped for a draft pick at the trade deadline. It’s also encouraging to hear the Oilers are pursuing goaltender Matt O’Connor, who has played extremely well at the college level. Just wish we had, you know, developed our own goalie.

Definitely hoping the Oilers can beat the Leafs in Toronto on HNIC. Not because I dislike the Leafs, who are actually fun to watch with guys like Kessel and Kadri on their roster. But because of the positive attention the Oilers will get in the biggest media market. Oilers win and they’ll receive lots of praise for winning under the new coach and the prospects coming down the pipe (with lots of links to Nurse’s performance at the World Juniors). The Leafs on the other hand will receive negative coverage for not rebuilding soon enough like the Oilers (hah!) and point to the tough decisions Shanhan and company will have to make at the deadline. Fluff pieces are nice once in a while.

Edmonton Oilers (1990-2014)

Edmonton Oilers (1990-2014)

I’ve been looking back at some of the success the Oilers had before this nine year drought. One thing that stands out is how well the teams were built even before the 2005-2006 season, and how good they were at generating shots. People can quip that the 2006 run was a fluke or that it was all Pronger. Their regular season was outstanding from start to finish. Had the goaltending been stronger before Roloson showed up at the deadline, they would’ve finished much higher than 8th. But the few seasons before the lockout, the team was generating shots and holding their own against some of the best teams in the league. They missed the playoffs, sure, but the team was getting some very nice production from all areas of the roster. No idea if it was the ownership change, or the management structure, but something altered the way this team evaluates professional and amateur players. The Oilers made some excellent trades in the early aughties, but haven’t been able to replicate that success under Katz. Here’s hoping the promotion of Bob Green can make an impact.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to listen or read Jason Gregor’s interview with Ryan Smyth. Smyth’s personality came through really well on the radio making the whole interview exceptional. He’s not the most polished guy when he talks about the game, but you can tell from his interview why he was revered in Edmonton. The guy had a tremendous career and really connected well with the community. Think it’s only a matter of time before someone hires him for a player personnel manager role.

Recommended Links

Are the Barons Developing Enough NHL Talent – Lowetide

You can’t trust *some of* the people who cover the Edmonton Oilers – Oilersnation

It’s Been Nine Years – Copper and Blue

Trade Talk: Save the damn puck edition – The Oilers Rig

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