The Edmonton Oilers powerplay has been one of the few bright spots in a dreadful 2018/19 season.
After 78 games, the Oilers have scored 46 goals with the man-advantage, scoring at a rate of 7.95 goals per hour – good for eighth in the league. They’ve also done a pretty good job at generating offensive opportunities, thanks in large part to their high-end talent, ranking 12th in the league with 52.17 shots on goal per hour and ranking 6th in the league with 23.15 high-danger scoring chances per hour. The Oilers have been fairly consistent throughout the season on the powerplay, posting scoring and shot rates typically above league average rates.
|Tampa Bay Lightning||78||50.83||16.44||11.01|
|San Jose Sharks||79||59.62||25.33||8.81|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||78||61.89||34.44||7.87|
The Oilers have relied quite heavily on their top end talent, as we’ve rarely seen the powerplay without McDavid, Draisaitl or Nugent-Hopkins on the ice together. In fact, Draisaitl, who currently leads the team in total powerplay ice time, has been on the ice for 76.73% of the team’s powerplay ice time and 43 of the team’s 46 powerplay goals. If that ice time sounds high, and that goal-share disproportionate, it is.
Across the entire league, the Oilers rank second overall when it comes to deploying their first powerplay unit. To figure this out, I had looked at the total powerplay time for each team and used their forward with the most powerplay minutes as a proxy for the first powerplay unit. Based on this method, on average team’s have had their top powerplay unit on the ice for 63.72% of their total powerplay time this season. The Capitals currently rely on their first powerplay unit the most, having Alex Ovechkin on the ice for 88.65% of their total time.
|Team||GF/60 – 1st PP Unit||GF/60 – 2nd PP Unit||TOI% – 1st PP Unit|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||12.20||7.60||74.2%|
|New York Rangers||8.39||4.87||62.8%|
|Los Angeles Kings||7.18||3.56||61.7%|
|New York Islanders||5.83||3.60||61.2%|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||9.69||5.18||59.5%|
|San Jose Sharks||9.27||8.14||59.4%|
|St Louis Blues||7.72||6.43||58.7%|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||5.86||4.34||58.5%|
|New Jersey Devils||6.64||5.54||58.5%|
|Vegas Golden Knights||6.96||4.98||56.1%|
|Detroit Red Wings||7.39||4.95||51.3%|
I also wasn’t sure if getting three goals from the Oilers second powerplay unit (i.e., ice time that did not have the team leader in ice time on the ice) was bad or average. Over the course of 80.80 minutes without Draisaitl on the ice, the Oilers have scored at a rate of 2.23 goals per hour, which is actually the lowest rate compared to every other team’s second powerplay units. Again – the second powerplay unit is when the team’s ice-team leader in powerplay minutes is not on the ice. On average, second powerplay units score at a rate of 5.00 goals per hour, with team’s like San Jose, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Florida and Pittsburgh – all of which have top ten powerplays this season – getting over 7.00 goals per hour from their second powerplay units.
Doing some quick math, if the Oilers were getting a rate of 5.00 goals per hour from their second powerplay unit, they would have approximately four more goals. And if they were getting 7.00 goals per hour – they would have approximately seven more goals. Small increases that don’t impact the overall -37 goal-differential much , but they could have had an additional win in the standings. Combine that with a competent penalty kill, and the Oilers could have been a little more competitive.
There’s plenty of issues for the Oilers to work through this off-season, making it imperative that they collect as much information and insight as they can to better inform their decision-making process. While the powerplay may seem like a positive, management needs to apply a critical lens to their current situation and figure where else they can squeeze out more goals from. It’s great that the Oilers have the high end talent to make the first powerplay work, but it’s obvious that they need to either spread their offensive talent more efficiently or find some depth scoring (even a third or fourth line player) this off-season that could potentially give that second powerplay unit a much needed boost.
Data: Natural Stat Trick
Appendix: Time-on-ice (TOI) proportion of first powerplay units (using team leader in powerplay TOI as a proxy)