Since the disastrous home-stand a few weeks ago where the Oilers lost five straight, the club has been playing much better, going 4-3 and posting some respectable numbers. Of the three losses, I’d say that the only one that really stung was against the Blue Jackets. The other two losses were tight games, on back-to-back nights, against Los Angeles and Anaheim, who at this point are two legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. All in all, it’s been a solid run, but one in which the Oilers have been getting a 94.5% save percentage from their goaltending at even-strength (Source: War on Ice).
What I’ve found odd is the teams emphasis on being “scrappy” over this recent stretch of games. I honestly can’t think of a day where Todd McLellan or one of the players haven’t mentioned the word “scrappy” or “meat and potatoes”. This just doesn’t jive well since it;s obvious that the team is relying on some outstanding goaltending and haven’t really improved much in other facets of the game like team defence or shot generation.
I get that the team has been playing some physical games, with plenty of fights and after-the-whistle events. But if these things don’t translate into goals and wins, I tend to overlook it. But I figured it’d be worth looking into the numbers a little more to see was if I was missing something that would suggest that this team might be turning a corner and actually playing a “scrappy”, hard-to-play-against style. And if they are in fact playing a new style, then it should show up in the numbers, especially the ones that measure the different events against.
Full article is at The Copper & Blue.