Tonight should be fun.
If there’s any key takeaways so far, it’s that the post-season is a chaotic tournament where anything is possible. As long as you make it to the playoffs, you can do some damage. Injuries, hot streaks, cold streaks, bad bounces – these are all factors at play in the post-season and can derail any team.
This year’s playoffs is another reminder that the Oilers, even with McDavid at the helm, aren’t guaranteed a title. All we can ask for is for management to establish a proper window by building a strong roster, and put the team in a position to do well. From there, it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens in the playoffs.
A couple things that have stood out for me this series. First a quick breakdown of the 5v5 numbers over the six games.
A big reason why the Oilers are in a game seven has been the play of Cam Talbot. He’s had his moments, but as it sits today, the Oilers have the best team save percentage in the second round. Anaheim on the other hand hasn’t had as strong goaltending as they did in the regular season, ranking 7th among the eight teams. And it’s been their goaltender’s play on the penalty kill, which takes me to my next point.
The Oilers powerplay has been dynamite in the second round, scoring at a rate of 7.41 goals per 60, first among all the second round teams. They’re scoring around the same rate they were in the regular season (7.72 GF/60, 6th in the league), converting 15.2% of their powerplay shots against the Ducks into goals, which is only slightly higher than what they were converting in the regular season (14.4%).
They’ve also maintained a very good rate of unblocked shot attempts (i.e., Fenwicks) per hour. In the regular season, they finished 10th with 75.3 FF/60. Against the Ducks, they’re down slightly, sitting at a rate of 72.62. What this tells us is that their powerplay is good, and it’s success is sustainable.
Worth noting that the Ducks penalty kill in the regular season allowed the 10th highest rate of unblocked shot attempts against and relied heavily on their goaltending. Thanks to a 90.2% save percentage, the Ducks finished the regular season with the 4th best penalty kill unit. Now that their goaltending is sliding a bit, their penalty kill has been exposed for what it really is: mediocre.
Back to 5v5. Here’s how the Ducks forwards have done against the Oilers so far, ranked by Corsi For%.
Have to wonder if potentially losing Nate Thompson is really a big deal for the Ducks. While the team as a whole is crushing the Oilers in Corsi For%, the Ducks post a 42.25% share of shot attempts with him on the ice. This is also a really good reason why the Oilers need to have offence on all four lines, so that they can expose these types of weaknesses. Draisaitl is obviously a big part of the line combinations, but the depth players need to be better at 5v5.
Here’s how the Oilers forwards have done at 5v5, again ranked by CF%.
You’d think if RNH ever breaks out of his slump, it would be tonight. He’s done well by the shot and possession metrics, but just can’t buy a goal. And if you’re wondering why the Ducks were okay with moving Perry up to the top line, it’s because they really don’t have to worry about the Oilers depth players.
Data: Natural Stat Trick