The Oilers even-strength (5v5) scoring issues remain a major concern, with the team only scoring 2.11 goals for per hour, ranking them 25th in the league. It’s only thanks to excellent goaltending and their ability to limit shots and chances against that their goal-share is a respectable 50.88% (14th in the league).
It’s great that the powerplay and penalty have helped keep their overall goal-differential just above break-even, and hopefully their special teams (especially the penalty kill) can remain at or above league-average rates. But it’s in the Oilers best interest to identify their underlying issues in the most time-consuming game state and try to generate more offence.
The biggest problem for the Oilers at even-strength has been their inability to generate scoring opportunities on a consistent basis. The team current ranks near the bottom of the league when it comes to shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts (used as a proxy for scoring chances) and expected goals, which uses historical data to give each shot a weighting to determine the probability of the shot becoming a goal.
|Oilers||50.21 (27th)||37.03 (29th)||2.06 (25th)||2.11 (25th)||7.74 (20th)|
It appears based on shot-location data that the Oilers are having major issues getting opportunities from high-probability areas this season – something we should expect the coaching staff – through potential system adjustments – and perhaps management, to address if the team intends on competing for a playoff spot.
What’s concerning is that this issue is a continuation of one of last season’s biggest problems, as the Oilers finished in the bottom five league-wide not only in goal-scoring, but also shots and scoring chances. In fact, the Oilers are currently slightly below the offensive rates they posted en route to a 79-point/0.482 point-percentage season in 2018/19.
|Oilers||51.90 (28th)||38.53 (29th)||2.13 (26th)||2.17 (26th)||7.68 (21st)|
It’s obvious that the Oilers are lacking the talent and depth to out-score opponents on a nightly basis.
But it’s worth noting that the Oilers top line featuring McDavid and Draisaitl is also having issues generating shots and scoring chances – numbers that are closer to league average rates. Below are their on-ice rates together at even-strength from this season (250 mins) and last season (805 mins).
The Oilers can take solace in the fact that McDavid and Draisaitl are putting up points and have an on-ice rate of 4.47 goals-per hour. But the fact that their on-ice rate of shot attempts and unblocked shot attempts have slipped should be a flag for the team. I’d expect the coaching staff to explore ways for their star players to get more shots and chances to sustain their current scoring rate and also to potentially push their production further. And part of the Oilers’ analysis has to include a review of their star players ice time, which continues to be one of the highest in the league.
Adjustments both to the roster and the tactics have to be made if the Oilers want to make a serious run for a playoff spot.