Shots Throughout The Kevin Lowe Era

Bruce Bennett

Have you ever wondered about the Oilers shot differential during the Kevin Lowe era? Of course you have.

This afternoon I saw an interesting tweet from @JaspersRink which included a graph showing the Capitals cumulative shot differential during George McPhee's time as the team's General Manager, to show the effects of each coach, their respective periods behind the Caps bench were also identified. This inspired me to create a similar graph showing the last eight seasons of Oilers hockey. As you can probably imagine the graph was ugly looking, basically a constant decline since the beginning of the 2006/07 season. I didn't break out the tenures of the five different Oilers coaches during this stretch because the team, more or less, sucked equally under all of them.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it might be fun to add a few more years to that graph. Instead of restricting it to the last eight years and getting a predictable graph that's equal parts sad and hilarious, I could get something that demonstrates how the Oilers have evolved during Kevin Lowe's time in the Oilers' front office. I don't think Lowe is the person most to blame for the current state of the Oilers, but he is the one constant over the last eight years and has been in a front office position since taking over as the team's General Manager in the summer of 2000, so it seemed logical to look at the entirety of the Kevin Lowe era (regular season games only).

Click the image below to enlarge.

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Seeing how the graph turned out I'm pretty happy that I did this. The Oilers shot differential during the Kevin Lowe era peaked at +691 on April 17, 2006, the last regular season game the team played before their magical two month trip to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. And it's been all downhill since that point. You can't make this stuff up.

A couple of other notes:

  • At the end of Lowe's tenure as the team's GM the Oilers cumulative shot differential sat at +28. They would play another six games before dropping below the break even point and haven't gotten back to even since. Even with his job security it's had to believe Lowe will be around long enough to see that happen, either the team continues to fail and he gets fired, or they succeed and he finally retires.
  • Since last making the playoffs the Oilers have a shot differential of -2904. That's an average of 4.7 shots per game. Good thing Tambellini signed a proven winner like Nikolai Khabibulin to help the team cover the shortfall.
  • Under Pat Quinn the Oilers had their best stretch since they last made the playoffs. Hands up, who saw that coming? For a 35 games the Oilers were nearly even, posting a cumulative -3 over that time. Looking closer though there were some very lopsided losses in that stretch so score effects probably played a part in the results.
  • The Oilers under Tom Renney had a nice run right at the very end of his tenure. Certainly better than anyone had done since.
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