How Bad Have The Oilers Been At Even Strength?

Bruce Bennett

None. None more worse.

We talked yesterday about the Oilers' struggles at even strength and the hole that Dallas Eakins must dig out of to be competitive on a nightly basis. The depth of the problem is revealed in Fenwick Close data taken from Behind the Net:

Year Fenwick Close NHL rank Head Coach
2007 45.17 28th Craig MacTavish
2008 46.68 25th
2009 45.63 30th Pat Quinn
2010 43.25 29th Tom Renney
2011 48.08 24th
2012 44.48 28th Ralph Krueger

Over the last six seasons, the best the Oilers even strength team the Oilers put on the ice ranked 24th in the NHL. That's the best team, from 2011, under Tom Renney. Why am I using Fenwick to measure even strength effectiveness? Eric T. explains at Broad Street Hockey:

The result is that, although it may be counter-intuitive, if you want to predict a team's future winning percentage, you'll do better by looking at their current shot differential (ignoring shooting percentages) than looking at their current goal differential or their current winning percentage.

Yes, that's strange. Everyone's first instinct is to think that some teams will get higher quality shots than others, and looking at shot differential ignores that. And that's true, but it turns out that the differences in shot quality aren't very large, and so over the course of a season team shooting percentages are driven more by random streaks than by talent.

Unless the Oilers are going to bring back 32-year old Dominik Hasek, they have no chance of being competitive with these sorts of even strength results. The team needs to improve personnel, tactics and strategies right away. They're already through Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle's ELCs and in the final year of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' ELC. Time's a wastin'.

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