Something of interest this early in the season has been the Oilers scoring chance numbers, as they currently sit 5th in league with a 58.3% share of the total chances at even-strength (Source: Corsica Hockey). Obviously an encouraging number as the Oilers have been under 50.0% historically when it comes to this metric.
What’s interesting is that even though the Oilers are getting a higher share of the scoring chances after six games, (light schedule, only one game on the road, two against Calgary…minor details) the Oilers are still posting an adjusted Corsi For% less than 50%. This doesn’t seem like a sustainable output, as you’d think that generating scoring chances would be dependent on how often your team has the puck (with shot attempts being a good proxy for this). One thing I was curious about was how often teams have posted a below average adjusted Corsi For%, yet still had a higher share of scoring chances.
Below is a graph of every team and how they performed when it came to Corsi For% as well as their share of scoring chances last season, as defined by Corsica Hockey. I’ve added a black line for each metric to show the average.
Here we see a pretty good correlation between possession and scoring chances. Most of the top teams from last season that finished with a higher winning percentage and/or did well in the playoffs are in the top right quadrant (i.e., >50% CF% and >50% SCF%). And in the bottom left are most of the clubs that missed the playoffs or were eliminated early on. Only two teams posted below average possession numbers and above average scoring chance numbers last season: Columbus and Minnesota.
So while you could interpret the Oilers early 2016/17 numbers as the team doing a better job at converting their shot attempts into scoring chances, the truth is that it’s hard to sustain and does not guarantee any success. I fully expect the Oilers share of scoring chances to come back down to earth if they continue to post below-average possession numbers, just based on how teams did last season. But if McDavid can continue dominating, creating chances on his own, and the team continues to ride out their higher-than-average shooting percentage to win more games, I’ll be thrilled.