NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 22: Jeff Petry #58 of the Edmonton Oilers blocks a shot in front of Nick Spaling #13 of the Nashville Predators and Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk #40 on March 22, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Sports writers and radio/television personalities who cover the Oilers spent a fair amount of effort highlighting the increase in blocked shots in 2011-12. The increase supposedly reinforced a commitment to a new team concept, and words like "heart", "effort", "desire" and "sacrifice" framed both narratives. Ladislav Smid's shot-blocking abilities were named as the core reason to his new effectiveness, though I'm still not sure how that works.
At a tactical level, dawgbone looked at the downside of trying to block everything in two separate articles:
Yesterday at NHLNumbers, I looked at the best shot blockers in the league, broken out by forward and defense. In the tables below, I've done the same for the Oilers. I've listed even strength shot attempts against, even strength blocks and the ESBS Ratio (% of even strength shot attempts blocked by an individual player), as I'm calling it until someone comes up with a better name. One caveat to these numbers - I'm using total even strength blocks, not away even strength blocks, which will leave a heavy tinge of scorer bias. But since I'm comparing teammates, that SHOULD wash out.
Smid and Sutton were amongst the league leaders, but everyone outside of Peckham and Potter were above average league-wide.
Perhaps the defensive was seemingly adept at blocking shots because the forwards, as a group, were not. It's possible that Tom Renney's man-to-man system creates less shot-blocking opportunities for forwards when compared to zone coverage, but I'll defer to dawgbone for that answer.