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Edmonton's Defensive Collapse - Is Corey Potter THAT Important?

Copper & Blue readers are often a very astute bunch. Take BusDriver, for example. When I pointed out the enormous gains at even strength due to the Oilers' defense, not the offense, he asked:

can you compare the first 15 games and last 14? I suspect the defense is getting worse.

And off to the numbers we go. The table below shows the splits requested by BusDriver as well as the season totals. Note that scoring chances for game 30 were not available at the time this article was written.

CF/60 CA/60 SC%
First 15 games 13.238 13.153 0.502
Last 14 games 15.233 18.113 0.457
Total 14.191 15.521 0.478

BusDriver's suspicions were bang on. The defense, which was surprisingly strong through the first 15 games has not been very good since. While the offense has picked up the pace to the tune of 2 additional chances per 60, the defense has collapsed, surrendering 3 additional chances per 60. The offense over the last 14 isn't quite up to par with the 2010-11 season average of 15.792 and the defense over the last 14 is nearly as bad as 2010-11 -- the Oilers gave up 18.240 chances per 60 last season. After breaking even through 15, the Oilers have only managed to tally 45.7% of the chances since - worse than 2010-11's 46.4%

Some of this was expected. Remember, the Oilers early season schedule was ridiculously soft and they couldn't draw patsies all year long. Corey Potter's injury meant increased minutes for Theo Peckham and Colten Teubert, Andy Sutton's suspension meant cameos by Alex Plante and Taylor Chorney. Add in the return of zombie Ryan Whitney sans feet and it's a recipe for disaster on the back end.

Corey Potter is due back within the next week and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation is furiously searching for a pair of replacement legs for zombie Ryan Whitney. If either one pans out, the Oilers should be able to reverse their fortunes, even if only slightly.