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Roundtable Question: Special Teams Improvement

It's no secret that the Oilers' have had some of the absolute worst special teams in the league over the last few seasons.  Last year alone, they were 55 goals worse on special teams than the league average. Over the last three seasons, the Oilers rank 22nd in the league in power play goals and 30th in the league in penalty kill goals against.  Things can't get much worse, can they?

Today's question focuses on the Oilers' special teams.

Our lineup this time includes Pat, from Black Dog Hates Skunks, the blogosphere's version of David Mamet, Jeff Chapman, the big brain behind Oil On Whyte, Shepso and BCB, the philosopher kings from Bringing Back The Glory, Jerconjake, the insightful man behind Oil Acumen, Smokin' Ray, the only man covering the Oilers, Barons and Thunder and he does it all at Oilers Jambalaya, dawgbone98, 'sphere regular and resident lacrosse and hockey tactics expert, and sumoil, Copper & Blue's resident CHL tracker, the only man breaking down the top CHL prospects through detailed statistical tracking.

Today's Roundtable Question:  Which of the Power Play or the Penalty Kill is more likely to improve?

BCB:  The penalty kill is the safest answer; with Ryan Smyth & Eric Belanger being added to the penalty kill the Oilers now have more than comrade Horcov to kill off some of Teddy’s smash mouth plays. No, Ryan Jones cannot play on the PK—but if the Oilers are playing Jones on any special teams I might want to stab out my eyes. The power play will get better as well (since it cannot get worse) but not playing the damn-diamond for 40 games and adding two veteran forwards is only going to help. Hell, even Andy Sutton might help the PK, and there is no defenseman that was brought into to help the power play.

Shepso:  Really, the PK? Are you drunk or just mentally unstable? Sure, the PK has new help at forward, but have you seen the D? And quite frankly the goaltending is still the ultimate question mark and that impacts PK success more than anything else in my opinion. And another, Cam Barker may help the PP. He has potential.

BCB:  I said ‘help’. Cam Baker does not ‘help’ anything.

Shepso:  Cam Barker is on his last chance contract. He can help himself by not sucking and getting a lot of 2nd assists on the PP to save his career. If he helps himself, he helps the Oilers.

Dawgbone:  I think the PP. Young players typically don't do well on the PP as rookies and we saw that last year. With the kids all being a season older, I think we'll see a stark improvement over last season. The addition of Smyth should offset the loss of Dustin Penner, and without the big boomer from the blueline, maybe the primary tactic won't be get it to the point at all costs.

That's not to say the PK can't improve. Better goaltending throughout the season will almost guarantee that it doesn't suck as bad as last year, but I think that if you base it on where the team was at the end of the season, the PP had much more room to improve.

SumOil:  From a straight percentage improvement, I think PK is most likely to improve. In fact we saw last season that once we went away from the diamond formation, the improvement in PK was more than noticeable. I expect to continue with the last season’s improvement and a full season away from the diamond should definitely show an improved percentage over last season.

However I expect our PP to be better as well. With a complete season of Taylor Hall and Linus Omark and the sheer talent of our forwards corps should make the PP more exciting to watch. For some reason(maybe its Bruce’s depressing article about Oilers PP since lockout) that I have no faith in our coaching staff to actually employ very good strategies with respect to the PP.

BDHS Pat:  PK because of Belanger and Smyth.

Jeff Chapman:  Power play is abysmal, but the PK is right next door. Going to put this one on the PK, I think Eric Belanger will outplay his contract by a great length and help the PK become a little nicer in 11-12.

Jerconjake:  The powerplay will improve because all of the Oilers' offensive contributers will be a year more experienced and thus faster in their decision-making. Also, the best players that have been added over the last number of years are all offensive minded. Getting Ales Hemsky and Ryan Whitney back healthy will help a lot, and so will Ryan Nugent-Hopkins if he makes the team. Penalty killing is a bit more cerebral, since it's play away from the puck. The Oilers don't have enough experience to be very good at it just yet.

Smokin' Ray:  I would expect both to improve after a terrible year last season. But I would suspect the PK to improve the most with the additions of Smyth, Belanger, Barker and Sutton. Nevermind the fact that Jordan Eberle and Theo Peckham are a year older.

The PP will improve to. The young kids have gained experience and now know what to expect. While it won't be one o the best power plays in the league, it will be a step up from last season.

Follow our roundtable on Twitter:  @blackdogpat@dawgbone98@oilersjambalaya@oilonwhyte@sumoil,