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The First 10 Games

Establishing a line in the sand.

Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

With training camp completed and the regular season set to begin, there remains questions about the roster and how competitive they will be in 2015/2016. Depending on your tolerance and distribution of risks, you could make a case that goaltending and defence are the teams biggest weaknesses. There's plenty of inexperience at both of those positions, with defence especially lacking NHL calibre depth.

It's been made obvious by GM Peter Chiarelli that they'll be assessing the roster regularly, with the phrase "10 game segment" being uttered again today. There are plenty of question marks around the roster with players such as Justin Schultz, Griffin Reinhart and Anton Slepyshev needing to prove themselves at the NHL level. It's my hope that this team remain competitive past December, and that management makes roster adjustments as needed.

I put together some high-level metrics using the past performance of the Oilers division rivals to establish some reasonable goals for the first month. What we know from extensive research is that teams that have the puck more often, that outscore their opponents and that get average goaltending tend to remain competitive. It's not a guarantee that you'll win the cup, but there's a good chance you can make the playoffs if you have a few of these boxes checked.

Below is a sortable table detailing how the teams in the Pacific division did in the first month of the 2014-15 regular season, which equates to about 9-12 games. I went with Corsi For%, Goals For%, On-ice Shooting%, On-Ice Save%, and, just to factor in luck, PDO (Source: War on Ice).

As expected, the Oilers were completely dreadful. I won't dwell on this too much, but the team was not up to NHL standards (i.e., Leon Draisaitl was the second line center) and the goaltending was atrocious. A poor start pretty much sunk any chances of competing for the playoffs, let alone making the playoffs.

October 1, 2014 - October 31, 2014 (Even-strength)

Team CF% GF% OSh% OSv% PDO
L.A. 51.3 56.7 6.9 95.3 102.2
VAN 51.1 46.5 8.4 90.0 98.3
ARI 49.5 30.6 5.6 86.7 92.3
EDM 49.3 39.5 7.9 89.7 97.6
S.J. 48.2 52.2 9.0 92.8 101.8
ANA 48.1 53.3 6.1 94.6 100.7
CGY 42.9 57.1 8.3 94.8 103.1

Based on how the division did last season, here's what I think the Oilers should be targeting in the first month. I think these are reasonable, but feel free to dissect.

Targets 50.0 52.0 7.5 92.0 100.0

I don't expect the Oilers to reach all of these targets. Really, it's a matter of how far away they are from reasonable expectations. The nice thing is that you can drill-down into each stat and begin to uncover which players are potentially effecting the team's overall performance. Meeting these goals won't guarantee a playoff berth, but at least we can start to see where the improvements are as well as the weaknesses.