Reviewing the Oilers vs Kings (2023)

Pretty entertaining first round series against the Los Angeles Kings who didn’t quite have the tactics, depth or goaltending to overcome the Edmonton Oilers. The Kings managed to get some positive results earlier in the series, but eventually dropped three straight games.

The Oilers were pretty dominant at even-strength (5v5) over the course of the series, controlling the flow of play as reflected by their 54% Corsi For percentage, and consistently out-shooting and out-chancing the Kings. Their expected goal-share was second best among the teams in the first round (second only to Vegas), and they were able to translate this territorial dominance into actual goals. The Oilers team save percentage ranked fifth in the playoffs, while their shooting percentage ranked sixth.

Edmonton 5v5 Los Angeles
54.64 Corsi For% 45.36
56.30 Fenwick For% 43.70
55.70 Expected Goals For% 44.30
57.69 Goals For% 42.31
15-11 GF-GA 11-15
8.21 Shooting% 7.03
92.97 Save% 91.79
1.012 PDO 0.988

Here’s how the Oilers skaters performed in the first round, sorted by their time on ice.

The Kings did a pretty good job slowing down McDavid, who finished the series with goal differential of zero. His main success occurred playing with Draisaitl, who he was re-united more regularly with after game three when the Oilers were trailing in the series.

Below is a breakdown of how the Oilers performed with and without McDavid and Draisaitl. The captain is definitely due for a breakout as his personal shooting percentage (5v5) so far has been 6.67%, significantly lower than his regular season shooting percentage of 15.31% and his career shooting percentage of 13.73%. Last year in the playoffs, it was 14.29%. His career shooting percentage in 37 playoff games prior to this year is 11.95%.

And while the 11-7 strategy is working great for the Oilers coaching staff and was a key driver for their series win, it does increase the workload for the Oilers top players. Currently, McDavid, Kane and Draisaitl are top three in the league among forwards when it comes to 5v5 ice time per game (all over 18.5 minutes per game). It’ll be interesting to see if this continues, and if we see any sort of performance drop off or injury issues due to the workload.

Worth noting how well the depth players, including McLeod, Foegele, Ryan and Kulak performed, due in some part to having Draisaitl mixed in with them as-needed to create some mismatches against the Kings depth. Over the six game series, the Oilers posted a positive goal differential (4 GF, 3 GA) without either of McDavid or Draisaitl on the ice. The teams Corsi For percentage was 51.62%, while their Expected Goals for percentage was 55.92%.

The concern I have with the roster is the play of the other top six players, and if they could either (a) be trusted with more minutes against other top lines or (b) at least play and produce with McDavid, which would allow him and Draisaitl to be on separate lines, spreading the offence. Most of the remaining playoff teams are deeper than the Kings, so the onus really has to be on guys like Nugent-Hopkins, Hyman and Yamamoto, and I guess Bjugstad, to improve their overall play. In the series against the Kings, the Oilers allowed the highest rate of shots and chances against with them on the ice. The coaching staff had to revert to the McDavid/Draisaitl option when things got tough, which says a lot about how the rest of the top six was producing. I also wouldn’t mind seeing McLeod get some more responsibility, as he’s done well in the past against tough competition in small doses.

Quick note on special teams. The Oilers powerplay was again outstanding, scoring 9 times in the series, but they also allowed one shorthanded goal and seven more on the penalty kill. So their special teams was only +1 in goal differential against the Kings. A lot of that had to do with the goaltending, which despite playing behind a group that allowed the sixth lowest rate of shots against shorthanded, posted a 75% save percentage that ranked second last in the league (only ahead of the Kings).

Plenty of work ahead with some issues to address.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

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2 thoughts on “Reviewing the Oilers vs Kings (2023)

  1. Pingback: Previewing the Oilers vs Golden Knights (2023) | The SuperFan

  2. Pingback: Shots from defencemen | The SuperFan

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