I joined Portia Clark on CBC Radio Active on Tuesday afternoon to talk Oilers, the playoff race and what areas the team needs to improve on. Full clip is here: CBC Radio Active (2017, March 14)
After 69 games, the Oilers are sitting in the first wild-card spot in the West with 81 points, four points ahead of St. Louis, who have the second wild-card spot, and eight (!) points up on Los Angeles. The Flames (2nd) and Anaheim (3rd) are only one point ahead. The Oilers rank 4th in the west when it comes to 5v5 goal-share with 52.96%, behind Minnesota, San Jose and Chicago. Calgary, Anaheim and St. Louis, the team’s the Oilers are battling with for playoff positioning, each have a goal-share of 50.6% this season
In terms of shot-share, the Oilers have slumped, especially over their last 25 games as they’ve posted a 48% Corsi For since mid January. Over the year, the Oilers have a Corsi For% of around 50%, right around league average, but it’s important to note that the final 25 games of a season can predict pretty accurately how a team does in the playoffs. The team is still getting results, but the underlying shot metrics paint a slightly different picture.
I think it’s worth emphasizing that the Oilers powerplay this season is good and it’s real. They rank 7th in the league when it comes to goals per hour with the man-advantage, which is second in the west, only behind the Blues. To measure sustainbility, it’s worth looking at their shot rates, which have been pretty good. They’re generating 53 shots per hour (that’s shots on goal) on the powerplay, which ranks 12th in the league, and 4th in the west.
The top three point producers at 5v4 are Draisaitl (6.82 points per hour), Lucic (6.35) and McDavid (5.59). And in terms of generating shots, the MVP on the powerplay has been Letestu, as the team sees a significant jump with him on the ice at 5v4. He has seven points on the powerplay, and ranks 9th in terms of points per hour with 1.90. But the team is much better, generating over 61 shots per hour, with him on the ice. Worth noting that when it comes shots per 60 relative to the team average, Letestu is a +9.76 which is 3rd best in the league, only behind Nazem Kadri (TOR) and Adam Lowry (WPG).
After playing in his 62nd game last night, most among all goalies, there’s some understandable concern about Talbot’s workload and if this could impact his future performance. Among the regular starters (>2,000 minutes), Talbot currently ranks 8th when it comes to 5v5 save percentage and is surrounded by some pretty decent net minders.
The good news here is that his 5v5 save percenateg hasn’t dipped as the season has wore on, as he has posted a 92.98 save percentage over his last 25 games.
Where his numbers have dipped is on the penalty kill, which I think has more to do with the team’s season-long issue of shots against per hour (7th highest in the league) and quality chances than it does his own stamina.
Talbot has not only bailed out the team on a number of occasions, but he’s also done a pretty nice solid for the GM. The Oilers completely botched their search for a backup goalie last summer and still need to address it in the off-season. For now, Talbot has remained healthy and has provided solid minutes.
The tandem of Klefbom and Larsson has been good this season, providing quality minutes and playing well against the best competition. It’s a balanced pairing with Klefbom being the good, all-round defenceman who can move the puck well and contribute offensively, and Larsson excelling in his own zone. One thing I’ll do at the end of the season is see how they compare against similar tandems, in terms of offence and defence. I think they’ve been good in all areas of the ice, but it’s worth digging into the data to see if they’re real or not.