There's no greater pleasure in being a sports fan than watching your team win, especially when they're beating up on an arch rival like the Oilers did to the Calgary Flames. Twice. In three days. And though we all knew that the Oilers were over achieving and some of the opposition was terrible, the optimism was palpable among the fans. Being a fan means that it brings me no joy to disclose that the Oilers were still a terrible team statistically during that hot streak, but it's impossible to avoid.
Below is a breakdown of the Oilers' underlying numbers from the five game winning streak of March 26th to April 3rd, and a comparison to their numbers from the rest of the season (excluding those five games):
|Winning Streak||Rest of the Season|
|Goals For||25 (5 per game)||73 (2.2 per game)|
|Goals Against||7 (1.4 per game)||96 (2.9 per game)|
|Shots For||127 (25.4 per game)||900 (27.3 per game)|
|Shot Against||151 (30.2 per game)||1092 (33.1 per game)|
|Team Shooting %||19.7%||
The Oilers were still getting outshot by nearly five shots per game during their five game winning streak. In fact, they outshot the opposition in only two of the five wins, one of which came against a depleted and demoralized Flames squad in an 8-2 drubbing on April 3.
The team certainly was due for some puck luck. Up to that point, Taylor Hall had just seven goals on 93 shots (7.5% shooting) and during the winning streak he had 6 goals on 17 shots (35.3% shooting). The truth lies somewhere in between, as Hall will not continue to be as lucky as he was during the winning streak or as unlucky as he was before that. The whole top line enjoyed a nice run, as Jordan Eberle had 5-3-8 during the winning streak and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had 1-9-10.
As a team more than twice as many shots were going in for the Oilers. Statistically the powerplay was better while the team was winning, but three of their four powerplay goals in those five games came against Calgary on April 3rd. Finally there was some even strength production, but too much to be sustainable.
On the other end, Edmonton's goalies combined for a 0.953 save percentage in the streak, and 0.912 outside of it. Goaltending hasn't been the reason that the Oilers have struggled this season, but it certainly helped contribute to the wins in their best run of games. That's something like what happened at the start of last season, when the Oilers went on a 9-3-2 tear on the back of 0.948 Sv% goaltending. The difference is that the track is much shorter in 2013, so a win streak of any significant length makes the team appear closer to the playoffs than they really are.
It's a worrisome bunch of numbers. Oilers management will no doubt be as encouraged by the results as the fans were, and falsely believe that the team is better than before when it clearly is not. Talent may eventually overcome inept management, but it'll be tough to win a Stanley Cup.