After reviewing the North division and analyzing how the Oilers did head-to-head against each Canadian team, I was curious to know how well the Oilers and Jets finished their regular seasons and what we could expect in their first round playoff series.
The Oilers results were obviously excellent, going 17-6-2 in their final 25 games for a 0.720 points percentage, while the Jets went 12-12-1. As we see in the table below, the Oilers success was largely driven by special teams in these final 25 games, as they posted a -5 goal differential at even-strength (5v5), a goal-share of only 47.47%. Note that the shot-share metrics (i.e., Corsi, Fenwick, Expected goals) have been score and venue adjusted.
|Last 25 games, 5v5||Oilers||Jets|
Thankfully the Oilers powerplay scored 21 goals, a rate of over 12.0 goals per hour over this final stretch, consistently generating shots and converting on their chances. And the penalty kill allowed only five goals, leading the league with a goals against rate of 2.90 per hour. Worth noting that the Oilers penalty kill gradually improved defensively, allowing league average rates of shots against over the final twenty five games, but still finished the year well above league average.
The Jets were a different story over their final twenty five games. They had excellent results at even-strength, posting a +11 goal differential (a 56.18% goal-share), and were closer to league average shot-share levels than the Oilers, gradually improving over the course of the year. They also had a little bump in their team shooting percentage – it’ll be interesting to see if they can carry some of that into the playoffs while missing some of their key players. The Jets goaltending was excellent all season at even-strength, and ended the year ranking as one of the best in the league – definitely expect that to be a major factor in the series.
Special teams is where the Jets broke-even to close the regular season. While they still scored 14 goals on the powerplay, a rate of 6.56 goals per hour that’s just under the league average rate, they allowed 13 on the penalty kill. Worth noting that the Oilers penalty kill will likely be tested as the Jets led the league in shots per hour on the powerplay over the final stretch of the season. The good news for Edmonton is that the Jets also allowed the third highest rate of shots against on their penalty kill. Not exactly where the Jets want to be against the Oilers powerplay, making it even more critical that they win the goal-share at even-strength and avoid bad penalties. The good news for the Jets is that they had the ninth lowest rate of penalties against in the regular season. Against the Oilers this year, they drew 28 penalties and were called for 26 – their best results against North division teams.
One other thing I wanted to see was how the players on each team did in terms of on-ice shot and goal differentials at even-strength (5v5) over the final twenty five games. Below are all of the Oilers skaters, sorted by their on-ice goal differential, with McDavid leading the way in all categories. We already know how poor the Oilers depth has been without McDavid on the ice, a problem that persisted all season. But it’s also a little concerning that Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Yamamoto – key top six players – each only had a +1 on-ice goal differential, and were posting lower than average shot differentials.
Defensively, I’d be a little concerned about the top pairing of Nurse and Barrie. While they both posted positive on-ice goal differentials, they ended the year with negative shot-differentials. Considering they spent so much time with McDavid, I would have expected their numbers to be a little better. Nice to see Kulikov posting good numbers just in case things fall apart for Nurse and Barrie. In ten games since being acquired by Edmonton, Kulikov has played 147 minutes with Larsson at even-strength, posting a Corsi For% of 57.28% and a goal-share of 65.95%. Bear should be getting regular minutes as well considering his solid on-ice shot-share numbers. And I can sort of understand why the coaching staff might be reluctant to play Jones or Russell and instead going with Koekkoek. Both players posted negative shot-differentials and goal-differentials to end the season.
Looking at the Jets skaters, there’s a few players including Scheifele and some of the third and fourth line options who were riding percentages to close the year. As noted above, goaltending was the driver and I think its safe to assume it’ll continue to be strong. Missing Ehlers and Dubois to start the series is going to hurt the Jets considering the team did so well controlling the flow of play with them on the ice. Dubois especially, if he gets healthy and plays, might see a market correction to his on-ice results considering he posted one of the lowest PDO’s on the team. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of match-ups happen and who gets assigned the McDavid minutes.
Should be an entertaining series and a lot closer than I think people are expecting. How much of the regular season carries over is anyone’s guess, but it will probably come down to how well the Oilers can play without McDavid on the ice at even-strength, the goaltending matchup between Hellebuyck and Smith and if the Jets can avoid getting burned on the powerplay. Looking forward to it!