"We keep a very close tally on chances for and chances against and where the scoring chances are coming from and with that, we've been able to cut that down into half here in the last three weeks and we're going to continue to have that focus."
- Oilers' Assistant Coach Wayne Fleming talking about the Oilers defensive zone coverage on November 27th.
I thought that this was a pretty interesting comment from Fleming. As most you probably already know Dennis King has been tracking scoring chances for the Oilers so far this season. According to his numbers the Oilers have allowed an average of 16.76 chances against at even strength over the first 25 games. In the last three weeks (games from November 8th on) they've allowed an average of 18.00 chances against at even strength per game.
So, relative to their season average they've actually regressed over the last three weeks. However, in the four games prior to November 8th they averaged 20.25 chances against per game so it could be that Fleming is talking about the team improving after having a particularly poor stretch. He may also be talking about scoring chances from a particular area or in a particular situation (i.e. through pressure in the zone rather than off the rush) in which they've improved greatly. I also haven't checked these in terms of ice time. It's possible the Oilers have been doing better over the last three weeks on a per minute basis. Finally, it seems likely to me that the Oilers have a more narrow definition of what constitutes a scoring chance and so it's possible that the Oilers have been giving up much fewer "five-bell" chances over the last three weeks compared to the rest of the season. At any rate, I find this kind of discussion interesting; it would be fun to sit down with Fleming and ask him about the Oilers' scoring chances work.