Is it good for the Oilers for Oscar Klefbom to target 250 shots?

taLast season, the Edmonton Oilers established themselves as one of the top offensive teams in the league. The club scored 247 goals, ranking third in the Western Conference. They posted a plus-35 goal differential and came within two points of winning the Pacific Division title.

What they also did really well was generate shots on goal. Across all game-states, the Oilers averaged 30.65 shots per hour, good for ninth in the league. At even-strength (5-on-5), the Oilers generated 30.12 shots per hour, good for 10th overall and first in the Pacific. And on the power play, the Oilers generated 54.19 shots per hour, ranking them second in the Western Conference.

Their ability to get shots-on-goal was a big improvement from seasons past, as it was the first time in a long time that the Oilers posted a shot-rate above the league average.

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It’s early into the 2017-18 season, and there are plenty of score-effects occurring, but after their first five games, the Oilers have posted a rate of 37.1 shots on goal per hour — one of the highest in the league. Considering that the most a team has averaged in a single season since 2007-08 is 34.1 (posted by the Sharks in 2014-15), it’s likely that the Oilers won’t maintain a rate in the 40.0 range.

However, there’s still a good chance that the Oilers finish the season with one of the best rates of shots on goal in the league. Along with the Connor McDavid factor, the Oilers have at least two other things going for them: the growing offensive abilities of defenceman Oscar Klefbom and the coaching staff’s history when it comes to generating shots.

Following an excellent 2016-17 season where he played top pairing minutes and was a key piece on the power play, Klefbom appears to be ready to take another step in his development. Here’s what he had to say to Chris Wescott from EdmontonOilers.com following the win against Calgary, a game in which he had nine shots on goal.

“I told myself last year to shoot the puck a lot and it was effective, right? Obviously, when you play with some really good guys on the ice it helps,” Klefbom told EdmontonOilers.com. “I just want to continue and focus on my game here, shoot the puck and play my game and even develop even more in my offensive game.

Full article is at The Athletic Edmonton.

The Oilers are taking a big risk trying to replace Andrej Sekera from within

taThe Edmonton Oilers are heading into the 2017-18 season without one of their most important defencemen. Andrej Sekera could potentially be on injured reserved until January as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in last spring’s playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks.

It’s a significant loss that wasn’t adequately addressed during the off-season.

The veteran ranked second among Oilers defencemen in total time on ice and ice time per game, playing a key role whether at even strength, on power play or on the penalty kill. He’s been relied upon since the day he arrived in Edmonton to regularly play against top competition.

One of Sekera’s best assets has been his ability to do a little bit of everything. He skates well and can move the puck out of his zone at a decent rate. Defensively, he’s extremely reliable, pressuring forwards and being in the right spots to not only clear the front of the net, but also to get the puck moving out of the zone and into transition to generate offence.

There really hasn’t been anything that he couldn’t do for the Oilers. Now the Oilers coaching staff has to figure out a plan to deal with Sekera’s absence.

Full article is at The Athletic Edmonton.

Establishing a new baseline for the Oilers

taBased on how well they did last season and the presence of an elite-level player like Connor McDavid on the roster, expectations are understandably going to be much higher for the Edmonton Oilers. The club is coming off of a 103-point regular season, finishing second in the Pacific Division and was one win away from the Western Conference final. Their plus-35 goal differential across all game states, and a 54.25 per cent goal-share at even-strength in the regular season put them in the top 10 league wide. And it’s reasonable to expect the Oilers to pursue a similar finish again.

Another 100-point season really has to be the target for the Edmonton Oilers. And they can look to previous 100-point teams to identify success factors and establish some reasonable baselines.

Full article is at The Athletic Edmonton.

Joining The Athletic Edmonton

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Happy to announce that I’ll be doing some freelance work for The Athletic Edmonton this upcoming season. Really looking forward to working with a talented group of writers, including Jonathan Willis, Allan Mitchell, Minnia Feng and Pat McLean.

Related: At long last, The Athletic Comes to Edmonton – The Athletic Edmonton (2017, September 8)

The primary focus of The Athletic is to provide quality content and analysis, and moves away from the traditional, ad-dependent business model of sports media companies. The Athletic requires a subscription to access their full content, but I can assure you that it’s well worth the cost. The Athletic has hired experienced writers to focus on various teams and provide outstanding hockey coverage. It’ll be a lot of fun to be a small part of it.

A big thank you to The Athletic, James Mirtle and Jonathan Willis for the opportunity. And thank you to everyone who has reached out to me, it means a lot. Should be a fun season!

Couple links to check out regarding The Athletic:

  • Letter from the Editor: Why The Athletic Has a Paywall – The Athletic (2017, February 27)
  • The Athletic is bringing subscription-based local sports coverage to a city near you – Tech Crunch (2016, July 8)
  • As ESPN Falters, Sports Startup Chases Fans Tired of ‘Old Fluff’ – Bloomberg (2017, July 24)
  • The Athletic, that local sports startup with no advertising, raises $5.4 million and scoops up Sports Illustrated’s former top editor – Nieman Lab (2017, July 7)

Please note that I’ll continue using this web site as a centralized repository for all my hockey-related work. Along with The Athletic, you’ll continue to find my work on The Copper & Blue, as well as on the CBC Edmonton News.