Limiting Those High Danger Chances

Todd McLellan was pretty furious following the game against the Capitals on Friday night, and for good reason. The club was outclassed by a better team at home, making far too many mistakes in the neutral zone and defensive end. The Oilers allowed 13 high danger scoring chances at even-strength, with all four even-strength goals against coming from that area.  That’s almost double the average number of shots that come from the high danger area in a game (thanks to rickithebear for that tidbit).

For reference, high danger scoring chances are the ones taken from the slot and low slot, as demonstrated below (Source: War on Ice).

Source: War on Ice

You have to understand why McLellan may have been a little annoyed after the game and at the media availability on Saturday (Source: 630 CHED). Fact is, he’s had a history of getting a higher proportion of high danger chances in games and ensuring that the opposition is limited. He regularly finished in the top five league-wide when it came to the overall quanity of high danger shots and often had a high proportion of those shots. Here’s how he did compared to the rest of the league and, as always, I included Edmonton for fun.

Now it’s early in McLellan’s tenure as Oilers coach, but here’s a game-by-game look at the count of high danger scoring chances, for and against, at even-strength.

Why might the Oilers be struggling again? A lot of the poor defensive coverage, which was really exposed against Washington, comes down to the personnel on the roster. Oscar Klefbom and Justin Schultz were dreadful in that game, but so too were some of the forwards who didn’t do enough to prevent passes getting into the slot area. The Capitals consistently drew the Oilers in, or moved them out of position with strategic passing, creating numerous lanes to send the puck to the net.

If the Oilers intend on becoming an elite team, they need to employ qualified NHL players who can read and react to plays more efficiently. What they have right now is ot good enough. And until they bring in experience and skill to the back-end, this will be another development year.

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.


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