Checking in after the first month


Not exactly what most of us were expecting.

After the first 10 games, the Oilers are 3-6-1, having posted a goal share of 47.06% at even-strength (a -2 goal differential) and sit near the bottom of the league.

Before the season started, I set out some targets that I thought the Oilers should try to achieve. As I indicated at the time, achieving these targets didn’t mean that they would be cup contenders. But it would give us a sense of where were the Oilers were at and if they were on the right track. The main thing I was looking for was production without McDavid on the ice, and the ability to generate shots on the powerplay and suppress shots on the penalty kill.

Below are the metrics I had in mind with the targets along with the actuals after 10 games.

Metric Target Actual
5v5 GF% without McDavid >50% 35.29%
5v5 CF% without McDavid >50% 54.89%
5v5 Team CF% >51% 54.80%
Powerplay FF/60 >75.00 78.76
Penalty Kill FA/60 <70.00 71.81

The good news at 5v5 is that the Oilers are posting some nice possession numbers with and without McDavid. There’s definitely score effects at play here as the club has trailed a lot, but even if we score and venue adjust the numbers, they’re still above 50% in terms of shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts and even scoring chances.

The problem right now is that the team is posting a 35.29% goal-share without McDavid. With him on the ice, they’ve outscored opponents 10-7 (a 58.8% goal-share). Without him, they’ve been outscored 16-18. Team shooting percentage is ridiculously low right now and should eventually regress towards the mean. I’m just skeptical that they have enough skill and shooting talent to make things happen.

Another positive from the first month is that the team ranks in the top 10 when it comes to generating shots on the powerplay. And they’ve been pretty solid at limiting the number of shots against. Doing either of these things is typically a good sign that your club will have success on special teams, but that just hasn’t been the case for the Oilers. Their powerplay shooting percentage is one of the worst in the league and were missing Draisaitl for a bit. And they’re not getting the level of goaltending we expect from Talbot on the penalty kill.

I’m still optimistic that the Oilers will start to string together some wins. I just don’t see where the offence will be coming from. My other concern now is that the team is going to do something irrational and trade away (another) one of their key players to address their issues.

Something else I wanted to look at was how the rest of the Pacific division is doing after the first month. What I’ve done below is list the team by their division rank, along with their adjusted shot-share numbers at even-strength (5v5) to see how each is doing process wise. If a club is posting greater than 50% when it comes to shot attempts (proxy for possession) or Fenwick (proxy for shot quality), the coaching staff is probably doing something right. I’ve also included each team’s even-strength shooting and save percentages, as well as their PDO to get a read on the external factors (i.e., luck) that each is experiencing.

Pacific Division - As of Oct 31 2017

Couple things that stand out.

  • Both the Sharks and Oilers appear to have the right tactics in place, getting a higher proportion of the total shot attempts and chances. But the reasons for their poor showings are different. Both clubs are having issues burying their chances, while the Sharks goaltending appears to also be struggling.
  • The Kings look like they’re back on track. They’re doing well when it comes to possession, like they usually do every season, but now they’re actually converting on their chances. This is a team that posted the worst 5v5 team shooting percentage last season (6.26%).
  • Have to say, I’m a little surprised that the Canucks are a 50.81% Corsi For% team. Did not see that coming.
  • No surprise that the Golden Knights are one of the worst possession teams in the league as they lack NHL-calibre talent, but it’s odd to see the Ducks not too far behind them. Both rank near the bottom of the league when it comes to the shot-metrics, and I think we can expect them to come back down to earth a bit, especially the Golden Knights.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

One thought on “Checking in after the first month

  1. Pingback: PHT Morning Skate: We’ve been pronouncing Conor Sheary’s name wrong all along – ProHockeyTalk

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