Reviewing the Oilers vs Flames

Another incredible series for Connor McDavid. The Oilers were dominant whenever he was on the ice at even-stregnth (5v5), outscoring the Flames 14-5 over the course of the series. Remove that first game, and the Oilers outscored the Flames 10-1 in games two to five with McDavid on the ice. Just outstanding.

And while the Oilers thrived with McDavid, the Flames really faltered because their star players struggled. Gaudreau, who had an incredible regular season, posted an on-ice goal-differential of -3 (4 GF, 7 GA) at even-strength, a 36% goal-share. In games two to five, Gaudreau’s on-ice goal-share was only 25% (2 GF, 6 GA) – posting a 53% Corsi For percentage, but only a 48% expected goals-for percentage. These are significant drops from his on-ice numbers in the regular season, when the Flames posted shot-share numbers above 58%, including an expected goal-share of 60% with Gaudreau on the ice.

Here’s how the two teams performed in the second round at even-strength (5v5):

Edmonton Oilers 5v5 Calgary Flames
42.75 Corsi For% 57.25
44.56 Fenwick For% 55.44
47.07 Expected Goals For% 52.93
55.88 Goals For% 44.12
+4 GF-GA -4
15.72 Shooting% 10.32
89.68 Save% 84.28
1.054 PDO 0.946

While it looks like the Oilers were out-shot by the Flames, it becomes evident when you dig into the data that the Oilers were the much better team when it came to generating quality chances as reflected in their expected goals for percentage, and they gradually improved over the course of the series.

Calgary put more emphasis on quantity, taking shots from lower probability scoring areas and trying to generate more rebounds and second chances. Their tactics did seem to be effective as their team shooting percentage was at 10%, slightly higher than what they posted in the regular season (8.52%, which is around league average) and more than double what their shooting percentage was against Dallas in the first round (4.65%).

And make no mistake, the Oilers goaltending was pretty poor against Calgary, with Mike Smith posting a 5v5 save percentage of 90.2% and a -1.65 GSAA. It was a concern heading into the series as the numbers he had posted in the first round were higher than expected, so regression was going to catch up eventually. Just never know when it’ll happen and how much will occur. The only saving grace for the Oilers is that Jacob Markstrom was significantly worse in the series, posting a 5v5 save percentage of 83.9% and a GSAA of -9.15. Both goalies were around the 92.5% mark in the regular season.

Here’s how the Oilers forwards and defencemen did against the Flames.

Pretty evident that McDavid was the key driver for the Oilers success this season, as the club out-scored the Flames 14-5 with him on the ice, but were out-scored 5-10 without him. And the Oilers struggled to generate shots and scoring chances without him over the course of the series, posting a Corsi For% of 39.60% and an Expected Goals For% of 44.27% . Having said that, the Oilers did gradually improve without McDavid, posting an Expected Goals For% over 52% in games four and five – something they can hhopefully build off of heading into their series against Colorado.

Expected Goals For% (5v5) Team With McDavid Without McDavid
Game 1 31.55 33.78 29.03
Game 2 43.70 60.40 37.50
Game 3 51.68 48.76 50.63
Game 4 55.17 52.60 52.25
Game 5 53.87 50.59 53.36

One player that stood out to me in the series against the Flames was Ryan McLeod who played against varying levels of competition, and posted a Corsi For% of 55% and an Expected Goals For% of 60%. In game five on the road in Calgary, McLeod playing just under five minutes against Gaudreau (about 38% of his total 5v5 ice time), and posted a Corsi For% of 76% (10 CF, 3 CA) and an Expected Goals For% of 85%. That’s the productivity the Oilers will need from McLeod and his linemates if they want to have success against Colorado. And if Nugent-Hopkins can continue anchoring a second line with Hyman and Puljujarvi, and if the Oilers can get league average goaltending, it should be a competitive series.

Data: Natural Stat Trick


One thought on “Reviewing the Oilers vs Flames

  1. Pingback: Closing costs: a review of the Oilers 2022 playoff run | The SuperFan

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