In the cards

The Edmonton Oilers are currently tied two games apiece in their series against the Vegas Golden Knights after a dominant win on Wednesday night. Vegas was completely flattened, generating only four even-strength shots in the first two periods of game four, while the Oilers generated 21. It was also good to see McDavid and Draisaitl playing on separate lines, which limited the amount of time the Oilers didn’t have one of the two on the ice. That appeared to benefit the depth lines, as they out-shot and out-chanced Vegas by a significant margin.

Below is a summary of how both teams have performed at even-strength this round, and what their results have been like.

Edmonton 5v5 Vegas
54.08 Corsi For% 45.92
51.88 Fenwick For% 48.12
48.37 Expected Goals For% 51.63
7-10 GF-GA 10-7
41.18 Goals For% 58.82
7.99 Shooting% 11.34
88.66 Save% 92.01
0.966 PDO 1.034

Over the first four games, the Edmonton Oilers have done a better job controlling the flow of play as reflected by their 54% Corsi For percentage. But they haven’t been able to convert their puck possession into actual scoring chances, with Vegas holding a slight edge. Of their 172 shot attempts against Vegas, only 87, or about 50% of those, have been shots on goal. In the regular season, the Oilers were one of the league’s better teams at this with a little over 55% of their shot attempts being shots on goal.

The good news is that the Oilers have gradually been getting better at this, as the club appears to be adjusting to Vegas’ defensive schemes. In game four, for example, 65% of their shot attempts were actual shots on goal, and likely a big reason why they out-scored Vegas 3-0 at even-strength in the first two periods. That’s a big improvement from game one when only 38% of their attempts were shots on goal. Note that in the graph below, the orange line represents the Oilers 2022/23 regular season proportion.

The other positive from game four was the lower proportion of shots that were coming off the sticks of defencemen, an issue I covered after game three. Of the 24 shots the Oilers took in game four, 19 were from forwards (79%) – a significant improvement from the first three games of the series when defencemen were getting a higher-than-normal share. If the Oilers can continue breaking through Vegas’ structure and avoiding taking shots from lower probability scoring areas, they should be able to have more success at even-strength.

Here’s a quick look at how the Oiler’s skaters have performed against Vegas at even-strength, and the team’s results with them on the ice.

Somewhat surprised to see Kane’s on-ice numbers in the red considering he’s spent 73% of his ice time with either McDavid, Draisaitl or Nugent-Hopkins. His main issue is that in the 27% of his ice time that he isn’t in the top six, his on-ice Corsi For% and Expected Goals For% plummets to around 35%. He basically needs to be playing top six minutes to provide any sort of value to the team. If you’re Vegas, you can definitely continue targeting him and some of the secondary forwards, including Yamamoto, Bjugstad and Kostin who’ve all posted poor on-ice shot-shares in the series. On the plus-side – nice to see Foegele and McLeod performing well, the latter of which is well suited for more responsibility if need-be.

Quick review of the Oilers special teams, which has had excellent results against Vegas.

Starting with the Oilers powerplay – Vegas is actually doing a pretty good job limiting shots and chances against, holding the Oilers to a rate of 59 shots per hour (about 8 shots lower than their regular season rate, which was the highest in the league). Issue of course is the finishing talent of the Oilers who have converted on 24% (!) of their shots, which is an increase from the 19% shooting percentage they posted in the regular season – which was the highest in the league. Hard to see the Oilers powerplay slowing down any time soon.

The Oilers penalty kill continues to perform well in front of the goaltending, allowing 56 shots against per hour, which is around the regular season league average. And in this round, the Oilers are finally getting good goaltending with the team posting a 92% save percentage. That’s a significant improvement from the first round against Los Angeles when the Oilers were doing a really good job limiting opportunities against, but were let down by their goaltending that stopped only 75% of the shots against.

Should be an interesting best-of-three series. If the Oilers intend on moving on to the western conference finals, they will need their special teams to be an area of strength, and hope that their even-strength results (i.e., goal-share) improve. Main concern should be around the goaltending and Skinner’s play, as there’s been some inconsistency in his game – something that may have carried over from the regular season. And the secondary forwards, who Vegas’ coaching staff can target more often with home-ice advantage.

Data: Natural Stat Trick


One thought on “In the cards

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s