A Look Into the Oilers’ Declining Possession Numbers

Now that the Oilers have clinched a playoff spot, the question is how far can they possibly go.

Heading into last night’s game, the Oilers ranked 7th in the league, and 3rd in the Western conference behind Minnesota and Chicago, in even-strength goal-share with 53.93%, having out-scored their opponents 151-129. The Oilers powerplay has been very good as well, ranking second in the league when it comes to goals for per 60. And it appears their success is sustainable with the man-advantage as the club generates the sixth highest rate of unblocked shots-for per 60.

The one issue for the Oilers is that possession wise, they have slid down to 19th in the league sitting at a 49.66% Corsi For percentage, which indicates their goal-share at even-strength might not exactly be sustainable. What’s even more concerning is that over their last 25 games, which would go back to the end of January, the team’s Corsi has been 47.46%, a number that the bottom-feeders of the league typically post. To make matters worse, while the team continues posting a respectable Corsi For% with McDavid on the ice, over the last 25 games, without McDavid the Oilers have a Corsi For% of 45.48%.

20170328 - Team CF

Why does Corsi For% matter?

What we’ve seen from the past three playoff tournaments is that team’s increase their odds of winning a championship if they can post a respectable Corsi For% over the final stretch of games heading into the post-season. By no means are teams guaranteed success, but it’s a positive indicator if you’re out-shooting the opposition and posting better possession numbers.

Here’s a a quick glance at the four conference finalists from the past three playoffs, and what their Corsi For% was over their final 25 regular season games.

2016

Tampa Bay – 51.5%
Pittsburgh – 54.9%
San Jose – 52.7%
St. Louis – 54.7%

2015

Tampa Bay – 50.9%
New York Rangers – 48.7%
Chicago – 52.4%
Anaheim – 52.0%

2014

Montreal – 46.9%
New York Rangers – 53.2%
Chicago – 55.8%
Los Angeles – 57.3%

Only two of the last twelve conference finalists posted a Corsi For% less than 51%: the 2014 Montreal Canadiens and the 2015 New York Rangers. Worth noting that both of these clubs had elite goaltending in those seasons, ranking in the top three at even-strength save percentage, that may have been masking their issues. While the Oilers do have a solid netminder in Cam Talbot, the team’s overall save percentage at even-strength this season has hovered around league-average for the most part. And it’s doubtful, at this point, that it would be enough to cover the team’s larger deficiencies.

If we break out the rate of shot attempts for and against over rolling 25-game segments, we see that while the team’s ability to generate offence has dipped, it’s remained around league average for the most part. And that’s thanks in large part to McDavid, as the club generates 60.8 shot attempts per 60 with him on the ice, and only 52.51 without him.

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

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