Thoughts on the Oilers’ post-season + Radio spot (TSN 1260)

handshake_Oilers_at_Ducks

I joined Lowetide on Monday morning on TSN 1260 to talk Oilers and their offseason plans. Clip is below and starts around the 20 minute mark.

Something I mentioned on air to Al which I should probably expand on is the disappointing post-season run.

Maybe I shouldn’t complain that we got to see playoff hockey after 11 years and 13 games in total. We did get some fantastic performances from Cam Talbot and Leon Draisaitl and Oscar Klefbom. And the club was one win away from the conference finals.

But make no mistake, this was a missed opportunity.

The western conference, in my mind, was wide open with no clear favorites all season. If there was a year to go all in, this was probably the one. Instead, the Oilers didn’t make any significant trades to improve their chances and I think some of their flaws, that were evident all season, cost them against the Ducks.

The defence in particular, while more experienced and healthier than years past, was an issue for the team, yet it wasn’t addressed going into the playoffs. Instead,  the Oilers gave away some of their depth to shore up their center position, which didn’t exactly work out either.

In their 13 playoff games, the Oilers were outscored 24-21 at 5v5, a pretty weak 46.67% goal-share. Their shot-shares were one of the worst among the playoff teams, with a score-adjusted Corsi For% of 48.73% and a Fenwick For% of 46.92%. Their 93.18% team save percentage at 5v5 was around league average, and was a big reason why, along with their powerplay, they won seven playoff games.

Now to get back into the same position, they’ll have to replicate the success they had in the regular season (i.e., two players in the top 10 league scoring, top 10 goaltending, +26 goal differential at 5v5) and hope that the roster stays as healthy as it did in 2016/17. We see how quickly championship windows can open and close because of injuries (Tampa Bay) and poor roster management (Dallas), so it’s crucial that the Oilers do everything possible to make the most of their opportunity with McDavid on the roster.

I want to remain optimistic that the Oilers can be in the same spot as they were this year. But losing four of their last five playoff games, allowing one of the highest rates of shots against and absolutely collapsing in game five is concerning. This off-season has to be about addressing their needs, especially on defence, and building a legitimate contender.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

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