Thoughts on the Oilers: Performance since the trade deadline, goaltending and special teams

Things have certainly turned around for the Pacific division teams since the trade deadline, with Los Angeles, Vegas, Vancouver (!) and Edmonton being the top four teams in the league when it comes to points percentage. Edmonton continues to perform well at even-strength (5v5), posting a 53% Corsi For percentage and Expected Goals For percentage in the 13 games since the trade deadline – which has them in the top-ten league-wide. Los Angeles’ shot-shares however have been better in this stretch, ranking second in the league with a 58% Corsi For percentage and first overall with a 61% Expected Goals For percentage. Vegas, while having excellent results, is over-performing a bit, as their shot-share numbers are well below league average, ranking 24th in Corsi For percentage (46%) and 30th in Expected Goals (44%).

What’s concerning for Edmonton is the goaltending, which hasn’t been great at even-strength since the trade deadline. They rank 22nd in this recent stretch with an 89.69% save percentage, while Los Angeles ranks third (93.76%) and Vegas ranks seventh (92.75%). And it’s been trending downward for some time now. Below is the Oilers team save percentage this season over rolling 25-game segments. The orange line represents the league-average save percentage.

Over this recent stretch since the deadline, Campbell ranks 56th among 61 goalies (minimum 100 minutes) with a 85.9% save percentage at even-strength. Skinner ranks 31st with a 91.2% save percentage.

It appears league-wide, goaltenders have seen their numbers take a hit with goal-scoring rates increasing; and the Oilers have been no different. The issue is that Los Angeles and Vegas (with multiple goalies) have been able to weather the storm and rank higher in the league, with their goaltending giving them a competitive edge heading towards the playoffs.

Where the Oilers do have a slight competitive advantage is their powerplay, which continues to perform well despite the departure of Tyson Barrie. They haven’t missed a beat with their rate of shots and goals remaining around the same levels, and at the top of the league. This wasn’t overly surprising as the Oilers powerplay has historically done exceptionally well with and without Barrie, who while is a useful player, isn’t one of the key drivers for the team’s powerplay success.

Oilers powerplay Games Shots per hour (rank) Goals per hour (rank)
Pre Trade deadline 62 65.77 (2nd) 13.08 (1st)
Post Trade Deadline 12 69.47 (3rd) 13.68 (2nd)

The penalty kill has been slightly better, going from costing wins to being good enough. Since the deadline, the Oilers have done a slightly better job reducing the rate of shots against, but the goaltending has declined and remains below league average.

Oilers penalty kill Games Shots against per hour (rank) Goals against per hour (rank) Save% (rank)
Pre Trade deadline 62 60.17 (25th) 9.31 (26th) 84.53% (25th)
Post Trade Deadline 12 55.08 (18th) 9.53 (22nd) 82.69% (21st)

Finally here’s a quick look at the on-ice numbers for the skaters at even-strength since the trade deadline. The tables below are sorted by the player’s time on ice.

Among the defencemen, the Ekholm-Bouchard partnership continues to excel. And they’re the only two defencemen with positive on-ice goal-differentials in this period. The Oilers tend to spend more time with the puck when they’re on the ice, playing just under 30% of their time against elite competition. It’s not the same proportion against elites as Nurse and Ceci, but it’s still a trusted pairing that’s performing very well.

Among the forwards, McDavid’s numbers stick out a little as he’s only posted a +1 goal differential at even-strength and a shots for percentage around 45%. The good news is that his on-ice Corsi For percentage and Expected Goals for percentage are around 50%, so I don’t think it’s the end of the world. But it does make you wonder how many points he could have accumulated had he had some better linemates and spent more time playing offence. Kane isn’t performing well at all, posting some of the worst shot-share numbers on the team, but still getting top six minutes. Part of it is the injuries he’s dealing with, but he’s also a fairly one-dimensional player that struggles defensively.

On the flip side, Draisaitl has been playing much better lately at even-strength and appears to be rounding into form ahead of the playoffs.  Before the trade deadline, Draisaitl was posting some of the lowest shot-share numbers on the team, just breaking even when it came to shots and scoring chances. Keep in mind too that Draisaitl is spending less time with McDavid in this recent stretch – only 20% of his total 5v5 time have they been together. McDavid’s numbers away from Draisaitl have been concerning – as he’s posted a 46% Corsi For percentage and a 47% Expected Goals For percentage.

Only 10 games left, so it’ll be important for the roster to stay healthy and for the coaching staff to figure out which combinations will perform well in the playoffs. And they’ll need the goaltending to bounce back and stay at league average levels. The western conference is looking far more competitive than earlier this season, with teams like Colorado and Los Angeles  emerging as legit contenders. Will dig into each club’s strengths and weaknesses later this week.

Data: Natural Stat Trick, Puck IQ


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