Thoughts on the Oilers: Winning Streak, Fayne’s Struggles, Goaltending + Radio Hit

Joined Lowetide on TSN 1260 on Monday morning to discuss the Oilers. Link is below.

Playoffs?

I’d like to think the Oilers have a chance of making the playoffs, but I know in reality they’re a ways away. Without a doubt the Pacific Division is awful, making the division matches all the more important. But the club is still posting some horrible underlying numbers that tell me this 3-game win streak has been a bit of a fluke.

The Oilers have moved up to 22nd in the league when it comes to score adjusted Corsi with 47.8%. Worth noting that since November 1st, the Oilers are 16th in the league (49.0%), so there has been some progress (War on Ice). The problem is that the Oilers are still allowing a lot of shots (29.6 shots against/60, 24th in the league) and scoring chances each game (27.4 against/60, 24th in the league), putting a lot of pressure on their goaltending which has thankfully been good to average lately.

Complete Win

The win against the Sabres had to have been the Oilers most complete win this season. They won the possession battle, got more scoring chances than the opposition, and limited the amount of shot attempts against from the slot (Natural Stat Trick, War on Ice). Below is a diagram of the shot locations courtesy of DTM About Heart. A legend for the diagram can be found here.

These diagrams typically aren’t flattering for the Oilers, so I had to bookmark this one.

Fayne

Without a doubt, Mark Fayne has been struggling this season. He’s not the quickest guy, but I don’t think that’s his biggest issue. What I’ve noticed is his hesitation when it comes to making shot attempts. He’s last on the team when it comes to the proportion of individual on-ice shot attempts, which might lead to the forwards taking more shots and spending less time crashing the net for rebounds.

Having said that, Fayne does a nice job moving the puck out of his own zone, with his passes often leading to shot attempts and zone entries last season. I compiled the data from Ryan Stimson’s passing project over at The Copper & Blue earlier this year. A few weeks ago, Jonathan Willis collected some microstats on the Oilers defence, which also demonstrated Fayne’s ability to make zone-exit passes. Make no mistake, Fayne is a legitimate top 4 NHL defenceman who, despite struggling in McLellan’s system, can be a positive contributor on an NHL club.

Three Scoring Lines

Everything would have to go right if the Oilers were to ever get three (!) scoring lines. The emergence of Draisaitl and the chemistry between Yakupov and McDavid can have Oilers fan hoping for three legitimate lines. The pairs that McLellan could run with are Hall-Draisaitl, RNH-Eberle and McDavid-Yak. Then you’d have to hope that all stay healthy and wingers like Purcell, Pouliot, Korpikoski, maybe even Khaira, can produce at a respectable clip. The other issue to consider is the amount of money invested in some of the wingers and if it makes sense for the Oilers to shift those dollars to the defence core. Eberle is the obvious candidate to trade away, and Purcell will be off the books soon. The problem is, it’s hard to get too invested in the idea of three scoring lines when the defence is what’s in need of an overhaul and (likely) a heavy off-season investment.

Recommended links

Are the Edmonton Oilers Actually This Bad? – OilersNation

Anders The Giant Nilsson – The Oilers Rig

Korpikoski vs The Nuge – Oilers Nerd Alert

Oilers No. 12 Prospect – Jujhar Khaira

 

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