No Really, The Oilers Team Defense Is Driving The Turnaround At Even Strength

EDMONTON, CANADA - NOVEMBER 30: (L-R) Tom Gilbert #77, Ladislav Smid #5 and Eric Belanger #20 of the Edmonton Oilers combine to stop Cal Clutterbuck #22 of the Minnesota Wild at Rexall Place on November 30, 2011 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In my article "It's Defense, Not Offense Where the Oilers Have Improved At Even Strength" I posited:

When it comes to even strength play, it's not team offense that has helped drive team improvements, it's team defense.

Frequent commenter bhommy pressed for more info:

What’s the difference in even strength chances against per 60? Does it bring the level of play between the two years closer, or separate 2011 more? It seems to me that special teams has been the biggest difference between this team and previous editions.

In the table below, I've listed the chances through 29 games from 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Period CF CA CF/60 CA/60
2010-11 first 29 325 430 13.786 18.240
2011-12 first 29 320 350 14.191 15.521

The offense is essentially the same. The Oilers have created .405 more chances per 60 minutes of even strength time. Over the course of a season, and all things we currently know being equal, this increase will account for ~3 more even strength goals. This is approximately half of a win, or 1 point.

But on defense, the change is enormous. They Oilers have allowed 2.719 fewer chances per 60. Over the course of a season, this decrease means the Oilers should give up ~23 less goals at even strength compared to 2010-11. This is approximately 4 wins, or 8 points.

Should they continue the current pace, the Oilers are on pace for a 26 goal turnaround at even strength, the bulk of which is driven by fewer chances against via better team defense.

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