Tracking the North division – As of February 1, 2021

The North division has been a lot of fun so far this season. Not the best quality of hockey with teams having shortened training camps and no pre-season games and still getting into form. But we’re seeing lots of high-scoring games and some fun rivalries building over these short series.

The Edmonton Oilers currently rank sixth in the division, 23rd in the league, with a 0.455 points percentage, and have been outscored 38-41 in all situations. The Oilers offence has been stellar, averaging 3.45 goals per hour, ranking seventh in the league, but only fourth in the division behind Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver. They’re also allowing the third highest rate of goals against with 3.72, just barely better than the Senators who allow over four goals per hour.

TeamGPPoint %Goal differential
Montreal80.750+12
Toronto100.750+4
Winnipeg80.625+4
Vancouver110.545+2
Calgary70.500+3
Edmonton110.455-3
Ottawa90.167-22

A big reason for the Oilers early-season struggles has been their play at even-strength (5v5), where they’ve been outscored 21-26 – a 44.68% goal-share, which has them sixth in the division and 23rd in the league. They’re scoring at a league average rate of 2.44 goals per hour, but are allowing just over three goals per hour – the fourth highest rate in the league. The goaltending, which was not adequately addressed in the off-season, is one of the problems as they rank 27th in the league with a 90.55% save percentage – and there’s little reason to believe it’ll get better considering Koskinen’s workload and the lack of options. But so to is the team’s inability to control the flow of play and prevent scoring chances against. And that’s going to need some attention from the coaching staff and management if they intend on making the playoffs.

Below are the even-strength (5v5) numbers for each team in the North division including goal-share results as well as the shot-share metrics that gives us a sense if teams have the right processes in place and if the results are sustainable or not. I’ve also applied a basic heat-map to show which teams are doing well or struggling relative to their division foes. You can find a description of each metric at the end of this article.

While the Oilers are spending a lot of time without the puck over the first eleven games, posting a Corsi For% of 47.13%, they are just breaking even when it comes to quality scoring chances. And the big driver for this is McDavid. With him on the ice, the Oilers have posted a 55.94% CF% and a 63.88% xGF%. Without him, a 43.00% CF% and a 42.46% xGF%. A little concern around that Draisaitl line – they’re just under 50% when it comes to shot-share metrics, and running a PDO over 107. We can probably expect their results to slow down. It’s the other two lines that while showing some signs of improvement, remain a large black hole. Without McDavid or Draisaitl on the ice, the Oilers have been outscored 3-15 at even-strength. And that’s due in large part to posting a 39.40% CF% and a 37.09% xGF%.

It’ll be interesting to see what Toronto’s numbers are like in a month or so. They’re doing well controlling the flow of play, but it’s not translating into a higher share of scoring chances. Calgary looks like the team to watch as their underlying shot-share numbers are fine and goaltending looks solid, but they’re struggling to score goals posting the second lowest shooting percentage in the league. Montreal looks like they’re in full control – dominating when it comes to shots and scoring chances and getting results. While we can expect them to come back down to earth a bit, they still look like the team to beat considering how much time they spend with the puck. Vancouver’s getting some luck right now, as they’re getting outshot pretty regularly, but somehow have a goal-share above 56% thanks to a higher-than-average shooting percentage – expect them to fall back down. Winnipeg is also holding their own, posting good shot-share numbers and positive results – but might get sewered by their special teams. That brings me to my next table.

Here’s how the North division teams are doing when it comes to scoring goals on the powerplay and penalty kill. What I’ve done here is added the rate of goals-for on the powerplay and penalty kill, and then subtracted the rate of goals against in each game state. For context, when the Oilers were dominant on the powerplay and penalty kill last season, their combined special teams goal rate was +4.19.

TeamSpecial Teams – Combined goal rates
Toronto+6.83
Montreal+5.22
Calgary+1.62
Edmonton+0.23
Vancouver-2.66
Winnipeg-3.18
Ottawa-6.87

The Oilers powerplay does appear to be turning the corner, now ranking 11th in the league scoring 10.25 goals per hour and generating chances at just above a league average rate. But their penalty kill is giving that success back, now ranking 25th allowing just over 10 goals per hour and allowing the sixth highest rate of scoring chances against. If they can’t get results at even-strength, special teams needs to be a factor and soon. At least one of the four North division clubs that makes the playoffs will be propelled by special teams, and there’s going to be a lot of attention on the Oilers coaching staff if they can’t replicate last season’s success and miss the playoffs as a result.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

Glossary:

  • Points-percentage (Point%) – The total points accumulated divided by the points that were available, including extra time.
  • Corsi For percentage (CF%) – The proportion of all the shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Corsi For/(Corsi For + Corsi Against). This is used as a proxy for possession and is the best at predicting a team’s future share of goals (GF%). (Source: Hockey Great Tapes – Draglikepull)
  • Fenwick For percentage (FF%) – The proportion of all the unblocked shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Fenwick For/(Fenwick For + Fenwick Against). This is used as a proxy for shot quality and considers shot blocking a repeatable skill.
  • Expected Goals For percentage (xGF%) – This is a weighting placed on every unblocked shot based on the probability of the shot becoming a goal. This depends on the type of shot, location and uses historical shot and goals data to come up with the probability for each unblocked shot.
  • Goals For percentage (GF%) – The proportion of all the goals that the team scored and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Goals For/(Goals For + Goals Against).
  • Shooting percentage (SH%) – The percentage of the team’s shots on goal that became goals (i.e., total goals divided by the total shots on goal).
  • Save percentage (SV%) – The percentage of the team’s shots on goal against that were saved (i.e., 1-(totals goals allowed divided by the total shots on goal against))

One thought on “Tracking the North division – As of February 1, 2021

  1. Pingback: Tracking the North Division – As of March 12, 2021 | The SuperFan

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