Ryan Smyth is leading the Edmonton Oilers with 30 PIMs on the season - Dale MacMillan
With shots on goal on the rise, the Oilers need to address their penalty troubles.
The Oilers pulled off a convincing comeback win over Colorado on Saturday night, and the team has now fired the puck on goal 92 times in their past two games. Their issues in being constantly outshot seem to be turning, but in order to sustain that success they'll need to stop parading to the penalty box.
As of this writing the penalty kill hasn't been an issue as it is operating at 86.8% (5th in the league), but even in beating Colorado the Oilers took another four penalties and allowed a powerplay goal. What's more, killing a penalty cannot, in itself, win a hockey game.
Only Montreal, New Jersey and Dallas have been shorthanded more times than the Oilers' 68 in 2013. The Oilers have spent 4:38 more time killing penalties than on the powerplay so far this season, which is in the bottom third of the league as well. And even though the Oilers are killing off most of that time shorthanded, it's a big reason why they have been getting outshot.
The Oilers have allowed 107 shots against while killing penalties (7.6 per game) and fired 81 shots while on their own powerplays (5.8 per game). It doesn't sound like a huge difference, but it's a swing of around 86 shots over a 48 game season.
What this all boils down to is that the Oilers are taken out of offensive situations and forced into a defensive stance when on the PK, and the Oilers' greatest strength is in their skill players. Especially in a shortened season it will be important to spread out ice time, and being forced to overplay the penalty killers will lead to poorer results.
As much as anything, it's penalty trouble that has taken the offensive flow out of the Oilers' game. If and when they sort it out, they'll be a step closer to the playoffs.