Thoughts on the Oilers Penalty Kill and McLellan’s results in San Jose

coppernblue.com.full.54273It’s wild to think that the Oilers playoff hopes are slipping this early in the season. But it’s a harsh reality considering the hole they’ve put themselves in and how difficult it is to make ground in the NHL because of three-point games.

What makes matters worse is that the Oilers poor results on the penalty kill is what’s absolutely sinking them and may end up costing them a season. Considering how high the expectations were following a playoff run, this is incredibly disappointing.

First it’s important to note that the Oilers are one of the least penalized teams in the league, having been on the penalty kill for just over 75 minutes, which is the 7th lowest in the league. They’ve taken 39 penalties so far, fifth lowest in the NHL.

When they are on the penalty kill, they’ve been a disaster. The team has allowed 14 goals now, third highest in the league, which translates into a 11.13 goals against per hour – the worst in the league. To put things into perspective, in the past three seasons no team has finished the year with a goals against per hour higher than 10 on the penalty kill.

Two things always worth digging into when analyzing a team’s penalty kill: the rate of shots against and the team save percentage.

Team’s are trying to block shots getting towards the net – a pretty standard task assigned to penalty killers who are pressuring puck carriers and disrupting passing lanes. So it makes sense to look at the rate of unblocked shot attempts against. And teams are doing everything possible to make sure shots don’t actually hit their net, as this creates second opportunities and chaos that could turn into scoring chances. So it makes sense to look at how well the team is limiting actual shots on goals against.

The good news for the Oilers is that they’re currently allowing 72.08 unblocked shot attempts per hour and 52.7 shots on goal per hour. This has them right around league average when it comes to both metrics.

Team save percentage on the other hand is what appears to be a significant issue on the penalty kill.

The Oilers currently rank 30th in the league, only ahead of the Coyotes, with a 80.56% team save percentage. This is far below where they were last season when the team ranked 11th in the NHL with an 87.75% team save percentage.

When the Oilers were bleeding shots against early on last season, Talbot, who started 73 games, bailed the team out with some outstanding performances, posting a 87.21 save percentage – one of the best in the league. Right now Talbot has a disappointing 81.82% save percentage, one of the worst in the league among starters.

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

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