Mediocrity 37 games, the Oilers are 10th in the western conference with a record of 18-16-3. They’ve collected 39 points – a points percentage of 0.527 – and are two points out of a wild card spot.

At even-strength (5v5), the Oilers have a -4 goal differential (64 goals-for, 68 goals-against) – a goal-share of 48.48%, which ranks 20th in the league. The team has struggled offensively, scoring at a rate of 2.15 goals per hour – the sixth lowest rate in the league. The Oilers have a done good job preventing goals – allowing a rate of 2.29 goals against per hour, ninth best in the league – due in large part to some good goaltending that ranks 10th in the league with a 92.44% even-strength (5v5) team save percentage.

On special teams the powerplay (5v4) currently ranks 8th in the league with a goals-for per hour rate of 8.25, and their penalty kill (4v5) ranks 22nd in the league with a goals-against per hour rate of 7.76.

The Oilers’ results after 37 games have them in a playoff race for sure, but there’s really nothing about them that indicates they’re anything better than a wild card team. Almost every metric at even-strength and on special teams has them either at or below league average numbers, suggesting that if they are to have any success it’ll be player/luck driven – either a league leading team shooting percentage or team save percentage.

When it comes to shot-share metrics at even-strength (5v5) like Corsi, which we use as a proxy for possession, and Fenwick, which we use as a proxy for shot quality, they currently rank 16th in the league – 49.86% Corsi For% and 50.26 Fenwick For%. And it’s not like they’re good at either generating shot attempts or preventing them – just around or below league average when it comes to shot rates per hour.

If the results aren’t great and the underlying shot share metrics that we use to predict future results are average, you’d hope there would be something, anything else at even-strength that the Oilers are good at – something that they could build off of. But it just doesn’t exist right now.

The Oilers rank 22nd in the league when it comes to their total share of scoring chances with 48.37%, generating 25.46 scoring chances per hour (19th in the league) and allowing 27.17 scoring chances per hour (21st). Generating high danger shot attempts remains to be a problem for the Oilers, as they rank 25th in the league when it comes to their share of the total high danger shot attempts with 46.31%. They have the seventh lowest rate of high danger shot attempts for with 9.92 and rank 23rd in the league when it comes to preventing them with 11.50.

It’d be nice to point to the Oilers powerplay as a sign of progress, but that hasn’t been the case either. While the Oilers currently do have the eighth best powerplay (5v4) in the league, it’s likely not sustainable and will probably finish closer to league average goal scoring numbers. The team just hasn’t been very good at generating unblocked shot attempts, currently ranking 19th in the league with 67.35 per hour, really struggling with consistency. The team shooting percentage is one of the highest in the league right now and will likely regress toward league average.

The penalty kill (4v5) is one area where the team has done well. The results have been below average as they rank 22nd in the league, but the Oilers do a decent job limiting unblocked shot attempts against sitting sixth in the league with a rate of 61.08 per hour. I’d expect the overall results to improve but only if the goaltending remains consistent.

It really is incredible that the Oilers are in the position they are in considering they’ve had a few seasons to build a team around the best player in the world. I don’t know how any organization – whether it be in professional sports or a real-world business environment – can look at the results and look at the performance drivers under the current management regime and feel confident in their situation going forward.

Data: Natural Stat TrickHockey Reference

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.


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