Oilers Scoring Chances At The All-Star Break

A guy who can move the puck in the right direction defends against someone who can't.

In this midst of the chaos of a five-year long rebuild, an unexpected story is developing.  Taylor Hall is expected to be great and Jordan Eberle has the hype.  Magnus Paajarvi's emigration caused a half-TWh drop in wind power generated in Sweden and Linus Omark dipsies, doodles and dangles enough to make the Hanson Brothers record another album. And while those four have been at the center of the Edmonton media machine, the real story, at least since December 27th, has been the play of Jeff Petry.  Petry has already surpassed nearly everyone's expectations in his young career:

But since coming to Edmonton, Petry has been extremely impressive.  He's playing almost seventeen minutes per night at EV, another three on the PP and some limited time on the PK as well.  That's a lot more ice time than some of the veterans are seeing and a lot for a rookie defender at any time, and at this early stage, he looks fantastic.

Not only does Petry look fantastic, his numbers at even strength indicate the kid may have some sustain.  It's possible Petry's ascent is a matter of serendipitous timing - the Oilers have slowly and quietly turned their even strength numbers around since the quarter pole - or it may be that Petry himself has hand a hand in driving those results.  Below is a table showing the Oilers' scoring chances for and against and the chance percentage in three different periods, with "A.P." designating the period after Petry's promotion to the NHL.

Games SCF SCA CH%
1-21 221 300 0.424
22-49 393 420 0.483
A.P.
212 204 0.510

 

The Oilers were absolutely destroyed at even strength during the first quarter of the season and only Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky held their own as the rest of the team drowned.  Since then the team's chance percentage has improved by six points to .483 - an extraordinary improvement.  However, in the period since Petry was promoted, the Oilers are outchancing their opponents at even strength with a chance percentage of .510 and it's Petry leading the way.

After the jump we'll look at the season scoring chance totals.  A scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area - loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots (nicknamed the Home Plate), though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score.

Dennis King at MC79hockey.com, has been counting scoring chances for the Oilers for two seasons and thanks to by Vic Ferrari of timeonice.com and his tracking tools, compiling the data is simple.

I've sorted the chances by forward and defenseman.  TSC = total scoring chances, TSCA = total scoring chances against, CF/15 = chances for per 15 minutes of even strength time, CA/15 = chances against per 15 minutes of even strength time, SCDIFF = scoring chances difference, DIFF/15 = scoring chances difference per 15 minutes of ice time.  The table is sorted by DIFF/15.

*This table is sortable by column, simply click on the header.

Player  TSC TSCA CH% CF/15 CA/15 DIFF/15
S. HORCOFF  122 102 0.545 4.869 4.071 0.798
D. PENNER  203 185 0.523 4.641 4.229 0.411
T. HALL 258 241 0.517 5.273 4.926 0.347
A. HEMSKY  135 126 0.517 4.782 4.463 0.319
J. EBERLE 175 180 0.493 5.149 5.297 -0.147
S. GAGNER  210 239 0.468 4.608 5.245 -0.636
Fowards
1852 2156 0.462 4.076 4.746 -0.669
Z. STORTINI  45 59 0.433 3.097 4.061 -0.964
A. COGLIANO  163 204 0.444 3.839 4.804 -0.966
L. OMARK 53 74 0.417 3.261 4.553 -1.292
M. PAAJARVI 145 203 0.417 3.596 5.034 -1.438
G. BRULE  88 131 0.402 3.210 4.779 -1.569
C. FRASER 67 106 0.387 2.833 4.482 -1.649
R. JONES 91 169 0.350 2.793 5.188 -2.394

 

At the quarter pole, the forward average diff/15 was -1.396 and at the time I noted it was much worse than the 2009-10 group:

Overall, the forward group has a chance differential of -1.396 per fifteen minutes of even strength ice time, significantly worse than last season's -.886 per fifteen.

Since then, the number have changed significantly.  Overall, the even strength numbers for the forwards have improved to a great degree.  -.669 per fifteen is a slight improvement on last year's numbers The chances reflect the obvious - the Oilers have some wonderful top-end forwards and little depth in the bottom six.  Scott has demonstrated the error in using "top six - bottom six" but in the case of the Oilers, it holds.  Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle lead the way in chances for, but as is the custom of rookies, they are giving it back to a great degree.  The three rookies plus Sam Gagner and Ryan Jones are the least effective players in their own zone, at least by the chances.  Speaking of Jones, I know he's a fan favorite because he has lots of hair, looks like he hustles because he falls down often, and he scores some goals, but there's a distinct possibility he's sub-replacement-level.  Look at his chance over the same periods described above

Games SCF SCA CH%
1-21 28 54 0.341
22-49 63 115 0.354
A.P.
39 61 0.390


Even during this run where the Oilers are winning the overall battle, Jones' sub .400 chance percentage sticks out like a sore thumb.  Ben likes to talk about Jones as a chaos player, but that implies a positive side to his game.  Jones gives so much more back in his own end that the offensive chaos and occasional goals are not worth it.

On defense, the story is all about Peaches.

*This table is sortable by column, simply click on the header.

Player  TSC TSCA CH% CF/15 CA/15 DIFF/15
J. PETRY 72 59 0.550 4.595 3.765 0.830
T. GILBERT  240 263 0.477 4.197 4.599 -0.402
R. WHITNEY 168 193 0.465 4.284 4.922 -0.638
L. SMID  192 223 0.463 4.130 4.796 -0.667
Defense
1229 1444 0.460 4.055 4.765 -0.709
J. STRUDWICK 74 92 0.446 3.892 4.839 -0.947
T. PECKHAM 189 239 0.442 3.788 4.790 -1.002
K. FOSTER 157 198 0.442 3.935 4.962 -1.028
J. VANDERMEER 102 138 0.425 3.994 5.404 -1.410

 

Petry leads the defense in chances for and chances against, playing nearly all of his minutes with Ladislav Smid.  Petry's impact on Smid's game is drastic as demonstrated by this WOWY.

 

Smid WOWY SCF SCA CH%
With Petry 57 48 0.543
W/O Petry 135 175 0.435

 

Speaking of chaos players, Jim Vandermeer's CA/15 is the worst on the team.

The tables below contain the irregulars, the infirmed, and the replacements.

Player  TSC TSCA CH% CF/15 CA/15 DIFF/15
J.F. JACQUES 39 46 0.459 3.127 3.688 -0.561
L. REDDOX 38 45 0.458 3.806 4.507 -0.701
S. MACINTYRE 8 17 0.320 2.198 4.670 -2.473
R. O'MARRA 12 29 0.293 2.183 5.277 -3.093

 

 

Player  TSC TSCA CH% CF/15 CA/15 DIFF/15
T. CHORNEY 22 18 0.550 4.176 3.417 0.759
S. BELLE 13 21 0.382 2.658 4.294 -1.636

 

The Oilers have turned it around at even strength, and by the chances should be a winning club.  But special teams and goaltending continues to do them in.  If management wants a playoff team next year, they should look into a bottom six capable of treading water at evens with a specialization in the penalty kill.  They might want to pick up a couple of bottom pairing defenders capable of killing penalties and a veteran backup to Devan Dubnyk.

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