Put 77 and 5 together and good things happen.
Defensive pairings are the only scoring chances left to grind through. The segments and WOWYs, isolated the players who were driving the play, the power play and penalty kill chances showed that the Oilers' special teams have miles to go, while the even strength totals showed just how poor the depth is on the roster. After working through the scoring chances by line combination, it only makes sense to draw out the chances by defensive pairing.
As always, thanks to Dennis King at MC79hockey for recording all of this information.
TCF = season total even strength chances for; TCA = season total even strength chances against; CH% = scoring chance percentage
- Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid were a very good pairing this season, playing against fist and second-level minutes. A first-pairing defenseman remains their biggest need, and though Jonathan Willis believes they need two defenseman, I'm comfortable with Smid - Gilbert against second minutes, though I'm not comfortable with the depth of the rest of the roster.
- Smid and Jeff Petry also had a nice showing, mostly against second and third minutes, but it reinforces the thought that Smid needs a right-side partner capable of moving the puck on his own. Gilbert and Petry both fit the bill for Smid long-term.
- I've talked about Theo Peckham's struggles against top-flight competition before, and it shows here through both Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney. One of the big reasons for bringing in a first-pairing defenseman is to limit Peckham's minutes to third-tough minutes, a la Matt Greene in 2005-06.
- Limiting Kurtis Foster to third minutes and seventh defenseman duties would make the defense more effective and limit Foster's exposure.
Jim Vandermeer varied from great (with Gilbert) to terrible (with Peckham), but wouldn't be a bad addition at $750,000 or thereabouts.
Here are the chance percentages in matrix form: