Tracking the Pacific division – As of November 30, 2021

Another month of solid results for the Edmonton Oilers with the club ranking second in the Pacific division with 30 points in their first 20 games. Their 0.750 points percentage is tied with Florida for best in the league, due in large part to their special teams, which continues to be strong and is a key driver for their overall goal-differential of +22.

Below are the even-strength (5v5) numbers for each team in the Pacific division (sorted by the number of points they’ve accumulated) including goal-share results as well as the shot-share metrics that gives us a sense of which teams have the right processes in place and if the results are sustainable or not. I’ve also applied a basic heat-map to show which teams are doing well or struggling relative to their division foes. You can find a description of each metric at the end of this article. Also note that the shot-share metrics are score and venue adjusted based on Natural Stat Trick’s methodology.

The Oilers continue to struggle at even-strength (5v5), with their 48.31% goal-share ranking fifth in the division, which is even slightly behind Vancouver’s. A big reason for that is their goaltending, which ranks 25th in the league in terms of save percentage (91.23%) and it hasn’t shown any signs of progress so far. The other issue continues to be the depth, as the Oilers continue to get outplayed when McDavid isn’t on the ice. Also worth noting that the Oilers Expected Goals For% has gradually come down since the first month of the season – going from 53.13% at the of October to 48.31% – closer aligning with their Fenwick For%, which has been average so far.

The Flames appear to have even-strength figured out, now posting a +22 goal differential at 5v5, due in large part to strong goaltending and the ability to dominate when it comes to controlling the flow of play. The Flames rank second in the league when it comes to unblocked shot attempts, a proxy for scoring chances, and are allowing the third lowest rate of unblocked shot attempts against. Even if their goaltending slips slightly, the team is doing everything they can to maintain a fairly strong pace and finish higher up in the standings.

The one other team to keep an eye on is Anaheim. At the end of the first month, their shot share metrics were poor, which led me to believe their results weren’t going to be sustainable. However in the last 10 games, they’ve done a much better job at controlling the flow of play as reflected by their 51.41% Corsi For percentage – an indication that while the results might wane, their process is improving. Seattle and San Jose on the other hand have really struggled over their last ten games, posting Corsi For percentages closer to 45% – indicating to me that they’ll likely drop in the standings if things don’t improve.

As mentioned above, the Oilers are very dependent on their special teams, with their powerplay ranking first in the league, scoring 15.21 goals per hour (23 goals in 87 minutes of powerplay time) and their penalty kill ranking fourth in the league, having allowed only 8 goals in 108 minutes – a rate of 4.46 goals per hour. Plus the penalty kill has scored three times, which is more than they scored all of last season (2) and matching the number of shorthanded goals they scored in in 2019/20.

One thing to note is that while the Oilers were able to score 15 powerplay goals in their first ten games of the season (21.62 goals per hour), they came back down to earth and ‘only’ scored 8 powerplay goals in the second set of ten games (10.51 goals per hour). Scoring over 10 goals per hour on the powerplay is still exceptional, and is probably where the Oilers will finish the season. But I think it’s an important reminder that the Oilers powerplay can be handled and that the team’s even-strength play needs to be addressed quickly to prepare for any lulls the powerplay encounters.

Here’s a quick look at how the rest of the Pacific division teams are doing on their special teams. For the table below, I’ve combined the number of goals scored and allowed on the powerplay and penalty kill, as well as the shots all of the teams have generated across their special teams. The table is sorted by the Special Teams Goals +/-.

Team Special Teams Goals +/- Special Team Shots +/-
Edmonton 18 14
Anaheim 12 -5
Calgary 7 15
San Jose 3 17
Seattle 2 10
Los Angeles -2 27
Vegas -4 -20
Vancouver -14 8

When it comes to special teams goal differential, Edmonton and Anaheim are currently number one and two, respectively, in the league right now followed by Toronto (+8), Calgary (+7) and Colorado (+7). When it comes to shot differential, the Oilers rank 11th in the league with +14, while Toronto (+55), Pittsburgh (+34), Chicago (+27), Los Angeles (+27) and Colorado (+23) are in the top five. It’ll be interesting to see if the Kings can turn things around, especially when you consider their powerplay generates the eighth highest rate of shots, but struggle to finish their chances.

Considering how most of the Pacific division clubs are posting average shot-share numbers at even-strength, I get the sense a lot of their results are going to be driven by special teams. It’s become a pretty competitive division and teams cannot afford to struggle on the powerplay and penalty kill and lose out on a playoff spot because of it. Definitely something to track this season.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

Glossary:

  • Points-percentage (Point%) – The total points accumulated divided by the points that were available, including extra time.
  • Corsi For percentage (CF%) – The proportion of all the shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Corsi For/(Corsi For + Corsi Against). This is used as a proxy for possession and is the best at predicting a team’s future share of goals (GF%). (Source: Hockey Great Tapes – Draglikepull)
  • Fenwick For percentage (FF%) – The proportion of all the unblocked shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Fenwick For/(Fenwick For + Fenwick Against). This is used as a proxy for shot quality and considers shot blocking a repeatable skill.
  • Expected Goals For percentage (xGF%) – This is a weighting placed on every unblocked shot based on the probability of the shot becoming a goal. This depends on the type of shot, location and uses historical shot and goals data to come up with the probability for each unblocked shot.
  • Goals For percentage (GF%) – The proportion of all the goals that the team scored and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Goals For/(Goals For + Goals Against).
  • Shooting percentage (SH%) – The percentage of the team’s shots on goal that became goals (i.e., total goals divided by the total shots on goal).
  • Save percentage (SV%) – The percentage of the team’s shots on goal against that were saved (i.e., 1-(totals goals allowed divided by the total shots on goal against).

Chasing goals

Good question asked by Walter Foddis recently on Twitter, asking people to vote on how many goals they think Leon Draisaitl will finish the 2021/22 season with.

So what is a reasonable expectation for Draisaitl? He has 20 goals so far in the first 19 games of the season – 9 goals at even-strength (5v5, 4v4, 3v3), 10 on the powerplay and one shorthanded. Can he score 40 more over the remaining 63 games and be one of only three players to reach the 60-goal mark since 2005/06? With the powerplay being what it is and generating even more shots and scoring chances than last season, could he push for 65 or even 70 goals? Dare we dream about him scoring 82?
Edmonton Oilers: Where does Leon Draisaitl rank among the European greats  after seven years?

To come up with a best guess, I split my analysis into three parts: one for even-strength, one for the powerplay and one for penalty kill. My main assumption of course is that Draisaitl remains healthy the rest of the year, he continues playing in the top six with skilled players against the other team’s top players, and the team around him doesn’t degrade in overall skill level.

Even-strength

At even-strength this season (5v5, 4v4, 3v3), Draisaitl is averaging 18:21 minutes per game and taking 1.79 shots on goal per game, which is almost exactly the same rate of shots over his previous five seasons. If he continues at this rate, he’ll take about 113 more shots over the remaining 63 games.

Now if he continues to convert 26.5% of his shots into goals like he has so far this season, he’ll score 30 more goals at even-strength over the last 63 games. But considering his career shooting percentage heading into this season has been 15.24%, that likely isn’t going to happen. Let’s say he cools off and regresses closer to his career levels – then we can expect him to score 17 more times at even-strength. My guess is that his shooting percentage by the end of the year is closer to 18.45% – which is what he’s posted over the last three seasons – and he scores 21 more goals at even-strength.

So far, here’s what we have projected for Draisaitl to finish the season with.

Situation Optimistic Realistic Pessimistic
Current total goals 20 20 20
Even strength goals (projected) 30 21 17
Powerplay goals (projected)
Shorthanded goals (projected)
Total projected goals 50 41 37

Powerplay

Looking at the powerplay, I would factor in Draisailt’s personal shooting percentage this season and his shooting percentage over the course of his career. But also what proportion of the team’s total shots on the powerplay with him on the ice are coming from his stick to determine how many more shots he’ll get this season. For this exercise, I’m also going to assume that the Oilers will continue to draw the same rate of penalties that they’ve drawn this season – which is the fifth lowest rate in the league.

Let’s start with the shots. So far this season, the Oilers with Draisaitl on the ice have generated 90 shots on goal on the powerplay, averaging 4.74 shots per game. Considering the team’s talent level and how well they are generating shot attempts and scoring chances after 19 games, I’m going to assume they continue at this rate and generate 298 more shots over the last 63 games of the season.

Of those 90 shots the Oilers have taken, 30 of them have come from Draisaitl – so about 33.3% of the team’s total with him on the ice. If Draisaitl continues to get the same on-ice share of the team’s shots, he’ll get another 100 shots over the rest of the season. And if he somehow maintains a 33.3% shooting percentage, then he would score 33 more powerplay goals – crushing a few records along the way.

If we take a more conservative approach and look at his numbers over the last three season with Gulutzan running the powerplay, the number of powerplay goals Draisaitl can expect to score is closer to 18. Since the 2018/19 season, Draisaitl has taken 26.4% of the team’s shots with him on the ice. So if the Oilers generate the same rate of shots, Draisaitl should get another 79 shots over the course of of this season. And if his shooting percentage comes back down to the still-excellent levels he’s posted over the last three seasons, converting on 22.7% of his shots, he should score another 18 powerplay goals.

My thought is that with his success so far this year, the Oilers will continue trying to set him up for goals, so he should get a higher than normal proportion of the team’s shots – so maybe 29% – and taking 87 more shots. And if his shooting percentage ends up hovering around 25%, which he posted in the 2019/20 regular season – he could score about 21 more powerplay goals.

Situation Optimistic Realistic Pessimistic
Current total goals 20 20 20
Even strength goals (projected) 30 21 17
Powerplay goals (projected) 33 21 18
Shorthanded goals (projected)
Total projected goals 83 62 55

Shorthanded

Based on the rate of shots Draisaitl has taken and his shooting percentage this season, and if everything continues as is, we would expect him to score three more shorthanded goals. Although the Oilers are generating the second highest rate of shots per hour on the penalty kill, I’m not entirely convinced that the Oilers are going to continue deploying a more aggressive penalty kill and that we should expect Draisaitl to score maybe one or two more goals shorthanded. He scored once shorthanded last season, and three in 2018/19. Whatever he does on the penalty kill would just be a total bonus.

Situation Optimistic Realistic Pessimistic
Current total goals 20 20 20
Even strength goals (projected) 30 21 17
Powerplay goals (projected) 33 21 18
Shorthanded goals (projected) 3 1 0
Total projected goals 86 63 55

Summary

For Draisaitl to reach 70+ goals, a lot would have to go right. Anything is possible, but with 63 games remaining we can reasonably expect Draisaitl’s outputs to regress closer to his career numbers, especially when we factor in the rate of shots and personal shooting percentages he’s posted over the previous three seasons. Of course, there’s also the factors that are completely outside of his control like his team’s performance, injuries and how games are being called/managed/fixed by the referees.

I think realistically, Draisaitl could target scoring 65 goals, which is what Ovechkin posted in the 2007/08 regular season. It would obviously require a little luck and maintaining good health, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility when you consider his more recent numbers and how great the Oilers powerplay has been at generating chances. Whatever happens, whether Draisaitl scores 70 goals or “only” 50 goals, Oilers management should be relieved that they have a star player who can outscore the club’s other deficiencies.

Data: Natural Stat Trick, NHL.com, Behind the Benches

Oilers defencemen with the bottom six forwards

Edmonton Oilers' Bouchard Exceeding Expectations Early This Season

Can’t help but be astonished by how, once again, the Oilers are getting mediocre results at even-strength (5v5) largely due to their third and fourth line forwards.

After 17 games, the Oilers have a -2 goal differential at 5v5, a goal-share of 48.68% that has them 19th in the league and only ahead of San Jose, Seattle and Arizona in the Pacific division. With their top six on the ice (which would include at least one of McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, Puljujarvi), the Oilers have outscored opponents 29-19 (+10) – a goal-share of 60.42%. Without one of those four on the ice, which is about 34.3% of the team’s total playing time, the Oilers have been outscored 8-20 (-12) – a goal-share of 28.57%.

Oilers (5v5) Top Six Bottom Six
Corsi For% 52.44 49.04
Fenwick For% 50.72 48.05
xGoals For% 52.34 43.81
Goals For% 60.42 28.57
Shooting% 9.91 6.10
Save% 93.46 86.95
PDO 103.30 93.10

No question the Oilers bottom six is being cratered by some pretty shoddy goaltending, with club posting a team save percentage of 86.95% with them on the ice. But it’d help if the Oilers third and fourth lines weren’t playing so often without the puck and in their own end and not having enough shooting talent to help make up for the team’s goaltending deficiencies – which ranks 25th in the league with a 91.37 even-strength (5v5) save percentage.

Rather than again pointing to the poor job the Oilers have done at identifying professional-level talent and constructing the bottom end of their roster, I thought it’d be worth looking into how each of the Oilers defencemen have done at even-strength (5v5) with the top six forwards and with the bottom six forwards. Knowing the significant impact McDavid and Draisaitl have had on the team’s overall results, it’s good to know which defencemen are posting positive numbers away form the star players and bringing value to the team.

Included in the tables below are each defencemen’s individual proportion of ice-time with the two groups of forwards along with the team’s 5v5 shot-share metrics like Corsi, Fenwick and Expected Goals with them on the ice.

A few things jump out when seeing the defencemen’s on-ice numbers split this way.

  • While it’s not surprising to see every defencemen have great results playing with the top six, it’s wild that when Barrie has been on the ice, the top six forwards see a drop in their shot-share metrics, getting out-shot and out-chanced when he’s on the ice with them. Barrie’s posting similar numbers with the bottom six and getting terrible results – so that might be the reason why the coaching staff continues to give him lots of ice time with the top lines who have the talent to overcome his deficiencies.
  • Nurse is definitely seeing a higher proportion of his ice time (76.45%) with the top six forwards compared to the other defencemen, posting great shot-share numbers with them and getting excellent results. Prior to his injury, I did wonder if he should get a higher proportion of his ice time with the bottom six forwards as the group does somewhat better with him on the ice with them – posting a Corsi For% and Fenwick For% over 48.0%. Considering how much the Oilers are paying him, you would have hoped the numbers away from the star players would have been better.
  • The one player that really stands out is Evan Bouchard. The bottom six forwards do significantly better with him on the ice with them, posting a Corsi For% and Fenwick For% above 57.0%. He really should be getting more ice-time as the team has a better chance of outscoring opponents when he’s on the ice.
  • Ceci and Keith have been pretty bad playing with the bottom six, posting poor shot-share metrics and getting terrible results. Considering the cost of acquiring the two and Holland’s expectations of them to take on meaningful roles, it’s pretty disappointing to see that they’re so dependent on the top lines.
  • Something worth monitoring is the play of rookie defenceman Philip Broberg and how he fares with the top six forwards and the bottom six. Obviously a lot of pressure on the player to secure a role on the team, but if he can be an even-strength play driver soon, it would solve a lot of the Oilers long-term cap issues.

As much as we want to point to the bottom six forwards and the lack of scoring depth, I think it’s important to add a critical lens to the blueline that Holland has put together. All four of the professional players that Holland signed or acquired this off-season – Barrie, Keith, Ceci, Koekkoek – aren’t strong play drivers and are part of the depth scoring issues for the team. Considering that all of them are on multi-year deals, it’s critical that the Oilers get contributions from their defensive prospects as soon as possible – especially if they want to improve their even-strength (5v5) goal-differential.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

Goal goals

Oilers' revamped third line providing much-needed balance

While the overall results have been excellent, one area for concern is the Oilers goal-differential at even-strength (5v5) – a metric that Ken Holland referenced as his go-to “analytic” this past summer (Source: The Athletic).

After 11 games, the Oilers have just barely outscored opponents 25-24, a goal-share of 51.02 that ranks 16th in the league and fifth in the Pacific behind the Calgary, Los Angeles, Vancouver and San Jose. And it’s really been on the defensive side of the game where they’re having issues as the club is scoring the fifth highest rate of goals per hour in the league (2.80), but allowing the seventh higher rate of goals against (2.69).

The Oilers goaltending currently ranks 23rd in the league at even-strength (5v5) with a 91.86% team save percentage, which is only better than Seattle in the Pacific. One issue is how much offence they’re giving up, allowing the seventh highest rate of shots against per hour (32.3) in the league and the tenth highest rate of expected goals against per hour (2.50) (note that both metrics have been score and venue adjusted to reflect how much time the Oilers have spent playing with a lead).

It’s likely a spot of bother for management and the coaching staff as they finished with a -16 goal differential at even-strength (5v5) two seasons ago and a -1 goal differential last season.

With McDavid on the ice this season, and the team often controlling the flow of play and outshooting opponents (57.16% Corsi For% and 57.12% Expected Goals For%) the Oilers have outscored opponents 12-9 at even-strength (5v5). Without McDavid, they’ve been outscored 13-15 largely due to the fact that they get outplayed by opponents and spend more time without the puck and in their own zone – as reflected by their 47.44% Corsi For% and 44.34% Expected Goals For%.

When we look at each individual forward and their on-ice shot differential, expected goal differential and goa differential, we see how it’s once again the depth forwards that are allowing more goals than they’re scoring. That has to be frustrating for a front office that has spent so many assets over the last few seasons to address their even-strength (5v5) issues.

Below are each forwards on-ice shot differential, expected goal differential and goal differential at even-strength (5v5) this season, ranked by their on-ice goal-differential. I’ve applied a basic heatmap to each metric to show how each player compares in relation to their teammates.

In terms of actual results (i.e., goal differential) it’s the depth forwards that Holland himself either acquired or re-signed that are currently having issues including Foegele, Ryan, Kassian, Shore and Turris. What’s especially concerning is that these players are also allowing more shots and chances than they’re generating, which doesn’t give a lot of confidence that their on-ice results will improve.

It’ll also be interesting to see if Hyman’s numbers improve. He’s been good at driving play, with the team doing a better job of generating shots and chances when he’s on the ice, but the goals haven’t been coming. On the flip side, Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl look like their on a bit of a heater, the results of which are masking some of their poor on-ice shot-share metrics. I’d expect their goal-differentials to slide, but perhaps some extended time with someone like Hyman or even Puljujarvi can help them sustain their current results.

Worth highlighting too how the defence core is doing, which is significantly different than last season. Again, the players below are sorted by their on-ice goal differential with a heatmap applied to to each metric to show how each player compares in relation to their teammates.

Really encouraging to see Bouchard have positive results supported by solid on-ice shot-share numbers. And I’d aspect Nurse’s results to improve considering he has McDavid on the ice with him for 55% of his ice-time. Barrie on the other hand, not sure what to say. His poor on-ice shot-share numbers are consistent with his recent seasons, so the Oilers should’ve been aware of this before signing him to a three-year contract this past off-season. Keith and Ceci are posting okay results, but it’s likely to slide considering the Oilers get outshot and outchanced with them on the ice, and they need to have McDavid with them for positive results to occur. And it’s not surprising to see Koekkoek’s poor on-ice numbers considering his performance the last few seasons and the fact he’s spending a lot of time with the depth forwards.

If the Oilers want to have sustainable success, they’ll need to find a way to get better results at even-strength. It’s a recurring issue with their depth players, one that Holland has publicly addressed, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Oilers approach this – either by changing up the line combinations, making a call to Bakersfield or looking at the trade market.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

Also posted at The Copper & Blue.

CBC Radio Active: Oilers are fun to watch but is it sustainable?

I joined Rod Kurtz on CBC Radio Active to talk about the Oilers and their start to the season. Full segment is here: CBC Radio Active (2021, November 9).

Topcis we covered:

  • Team and fan expectations of the Oilers this season.
  • The potent powerplay and if it’s sustainable.
  • Stuart Skinner starting his second NHL game.
  • Issues at even-strength and what they’ll need to address to have sustainable success.

Thanks to the team at CBC for putting it all together!

The SuperFan Podcast – Episode 33 – Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL)

A little deep dive on the Calgary Flames with Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL) from The ScorchStack. We talked about their great start, what the key factors have been and if their success at even-strength (5v5) and special teams is sustainable or not. Mike also shared his thoughts on the Flames roster construction, where they could make improvements, and what the club is doing well tactic-wise this season.

Full segment below:

Couple links that were mentioned in the show:

  • Killing time: What we can learn from tracking the Calgary Flames’ penalty kill (Mike Pfeil, SeaHAC, 2019) (Link)
  • Hockey plays and strategies – Ryan Walter and Mike Johnston (Link)

Podcast channels:

Music: Anitek. “Show me.” Anitek Instrumentals Vol. 4, 2010. Jamendo.com

Tracking the Pacific division – As of October 31, 2021

Oilers improve to NHL-best 5-0 with win over Golden Knights

It’s been a great start for the Edmonton Oilers this season as they currently rank second in the Pacific division banking 12 points in seven games. Thanks to an incredible powerplay, the Oilers have a +9 goal differential and a division-leading 0.857 points percentage.

Team Record Points Point % Goal diff
Calgary 6-1-1 13 0.813 +14
Edmonton 6-1-0 12 0.857 +9
San Jose 5-3-0 10 0.625 +3
Anaheim 3-4-3 9 0.450 -3
Vegas 4-4-0 8 0.500 -6
Seattle 3-5-1 7 0.389 -5
Vancouver 3-5-1 7 0.389 -3
Los Angeles 3-5-1 7 0.389 -3

The rest of the Pacific is looking a little weak overall as most expected. Three teams currently have a goal-differential above 0, with Vegas and Seattle starting poorly along with Vancouver, Los Angeles and Anaheim having their own issues. Compare this to the Metropolitan division where every team currently has a goal-differential above 0 except for the Islanders who rank second-last with a -1 goal differential.

It’s become apparent that the main driver for the Oilers success this season has been the powerplay, which has scored 11 times in about 30 minutes of ice-time – an incredible rate of 21.45 goals per hour. For context, a rate of 10.00 per hour is what the top powerplays finish a season with. Worth noting that the mythical second powerplay unit has been excellent as well, scoring two goals in under five minutes of total ice-time. We can expect the first powerplay to get over 85% of the team’s total powerplay time for obvious reasons, but it’s good to know another unit is ready to go in case they struggle or deal with injuries. I’m also curious to see if teams eventually figure out a way to stop the Oilers powerplay, similar to what Montreal and Toronto did last season in the North division. Both clubs held the Oilers to under seven goals per hour, with Toronto doing a really good job limiting the Oilers scoring chances.

The concern the Oilers should have is that the powerplay results are masking some of the Oilers deficiencies at even-strength (5v5), where they have scored 13 goals, but allowed 14. The Oilers rate of goals against is ninth highest in the league, as they’re allowing the fourth-highest rate shots against (33.78 per hour) and have a team save percentage that currently ranks 17th in the league with 92.63%.

Below are the even-strength (5v5) numbers for each team in the Pacific division (sorted by the number of points they’ve accumulated) including goal-share results as well as the shot-share metrics that gives us a sense of which teams have the right processes in place and if the results are sustainable or not. I’ve also applied a basic heat-map to show which teams are doing well or struggling relative to their division foes. You can find a description of each metric at the end of this article. Also note that the shot-share metrics are score and venue adjusted based on Natural Stat Trick’s methodology.

Calgary has by far been the best team in the Pacific at even-strength (5v5), posting a goal-differential of +9 with very strong shot-share metrics to back up their success. It’s not likely they’ll finish the season with a goal-share above 60% – only one team has done that since the last lockout, when Washington finished with a goal-share of 61.38% in 2016/17. And their goaltending is obviously the biggest driver right now, with Markstrom in better form than last season. But the Flames are spending a lot of time with the puck as reflected by their 57.09% Corsi For percentage and are dominating in terms of scoring chances as indicated by their 55.60% Fenwick For percentage. It’ll be something to monitor if they can continue their success, especially with their penalty kill looking solid right allowing the third lowest rate of shots against per hour and the tenth lowest rate of goals against (5.38). Their powerplay has been very good as well, scoring at a rate of 10.76 goals per hour at this point.

Edmonton has looked decent when it comes to shot-share metrics, especially their Expected Goals-for percentage which factors in shot quality. But I’m a little skeptical that this number will stay high considering their Corsi For% and Fenwick For% (which also serves as a proxy for scoring chances) are a few percentage points lower. Last season, the Oilers had similar numbers after 10 games – a Fenwick For% of close to 50% and an Expected Goals-for percentage closer to 52%. By game 25, the Oilers Expected Goals-for percentage eventually dropped down to 50%, closer in line with their Fenwick For% which hovered around the 50% mark all season.

And not to sound the alarm too early, but the Oilers are having some of their usual depth issues right now. With McDavid on the ice, the Oilers have posted a +1 goal differential and without him, their -2. That could change quickly, but it’s worth noting the team’s shot share metrics with and without their captain. Definitely something that needs to be monitored, considering how much focus it had in the off-season and the assets that management spent to address it.

Ideally the Oilers should be posting shot-share metrics at or above 50% without their star player on the ice, but that has yet to happen since McDavid’s been here. I do expect the Oilers goal-share without McDavid to improve considering their PDO is close to 93.0 thanks to some poor goaltending. But I’d feel a little more confident if they were playing with the puck more often and generating chances more consistently.

Some other observations of the Pacific division:

  • San Jose and Anaheim – I think it’s safe to assume they’ll come back down to earth a little considering their possession numbers are so poor, hovering around a score-adjusted Corsi For percentage of about 46%.
  • Vancouver looks like a mess right now as their results are in line with how poorly they’ve been playing, posting possession and scoring chance numbers similar to San Jose and Anaheim.
  • Vegas should start to get better results once they get some of their key players back, but I’m starting to think they have some depth issues.
  • And I’d expect Seattle’s results to gradually improve as they’re doing alright when it comes to controlling play, but appear to be having issues in net as the team save percentage ranks second last in the league. Grubauer has been poor starting most of Seattle’s games with his overall save percentage (89.6%), which is below his career average (92.0%).
  • Los Angeles is the most interesting to me, as their goal differential is actually better than Edmonton’s right now and they have some really good underlying numbers as well. Definitely some issues finishing chances as reflected by their team shooting percentage of 6.39% which ranks 26th in the league, but I suspect their results will improve considering they have the puck more often than opponents and are generating chances – currently posting the 5th highest rate of shots in the league, and the 3rd highest rate of expected goals.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

Glossary:

  • Points-percentage (Point%) – The total points accumulated divided by the points that were available, including extra time.
  • Corsi For percentage (CF%) – The proportion of all the shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Corsi For/(Corsi For + Corsi Against). This is used as a proxy for possession and is the best at predicting a team’s future share of goals (GF%). (Source: Hockey Great Tapes – Draglikepull)
  • Fenwick For percentage (FF%) – The proportion of all the unblocked shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Fenwick For/(Fenwick For + Fenwick Against). This is used as a proxy for shot quality and considers shot blocking a repeatable skill.
  • Expected Goals For percentage (xGF%) – This is a weighting placed on every unblocked shot based on the probability of the shot becoming a goal. This depends on the type of shot, location and uses historical shot and goals data to come up with the probability for each unblocked shot.
  • Goals For percentage (GF%) – The proportion of all the goals that the team scored and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Goals For/(Goals For + Goals Against).
  • Shooting percentage (SH%) – The percentage of the team’s shots on goal that became goals (i.e., total goals divided by the total shots on goal).
  • Save percentage (SV%) – The percentage of the team’s shots on goal against that were saved (i.e., 1-(totals goals allowed divided by the total shots on goal against).

The SuperFan Podcast – Episode 32 – Avry Lewis-McDougall (@avry)

Joined by Avry Lewis-McDougall (@avry) to talk all things Oilers, their recent success and how things might shake out in the Pacific division. We also talked about fan experience and how the Oilers and the NHL can do a better job growing and promoting their product. We also shared our thoughts on Kyle Beach’s bravery and what impact he’ll have on the game and society.

Full segment below:

Podcast channels:

Music: Anitek. “Show me.” Anitek Instrumentals Vol. 4, 2010. Jamendo.com

The SuperFan Podcast – Episode 31 – Dennis King (@dkingbh)

Joined by Dennis King (@dkingbh) on the show to discuss the Oilers start to the 2021/22 regular season, what they’ve done well and where they need to improve. We focused on the players that have stood out, positively and negatively, and the impacts of Holland’s approach when it comes to building and optimizing a roster.

Full segment below:

Podcast channels:

Music: Anitek. “Show me.” Anitek Instrumentals Vol. 4, 2010. Jamendo.com

The SuperFan Podcast – Episode 30 – Jason Adams (@adamsonhockey)

Joined by Jason Adams (@adamsonhockey) on the show to discuss the Oilers’ start to the 2021/22 regular season, what they’ve done well and where they need to improve. We talked about Holland’s off-season moves on the blueline and some of the early struggles there. We also talked about Jesse Puljujärvi, how important he is today and going forward – plus lots more.

Full segment below:

Podcast channels:

Music: Anitek. “Show me.” Anitek Instrumentals Vol. 4, 2010. Jamendo.com