The Good: The Oilers Are Better Than Last Year
by Sunil Agnihotri
Coming off of a shootout win against the Islanders, the Oilers have now collected 17 points (0.708 points percentage) and sit on top of the Pacific Division, five points ahead of the Sharks, Ducks and Kings. Their +8 goal differential (all situations), ranks them third in the Western Conference, only behind Chicago (+12) and Minnesota (+11). After scoring twice on the powerplay in three attempts, the Oilers now rank 15th in the league with the man-advantage with 19.4%. They also rank 2nd overall when it comes to the penalty kill, sitting at 91.7%. Special teams performance fluctuates throughout the season, but that’s a nice way to end the week.
This team might cool off over the course of the month, especially with a tougher schedule coming up, but up until this point the Oilers are actually posting some numbers that indicate that they might be contending for a playoff spot in March. The Oilers rank 16th in the league when it comes to score adjusted Corsi For percentage (CF%), at 49.27%. This is up by a 1.18% from last season, when it was 48.09%, 20th in the league. (Source: Natural Stat Trick)
Why is Corsi For percentage important this early in the season? Because, as Charlie O’Connor of Broad Street Hockey demonstrated recently, it’s a good predictor of rest-of-season Corsi For percentage. And Corsi For% over a number of games is a good predictor of goals, which I hear is important for winning games. Here’s a list of the top 10 teams from 2015/16, ranked by their adjusted Corsi For percentage.
|Los Angeles Kings||56.85|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||52.65|
|St Louis Blues||52.38|
|San Jose Sharks||51.9|
|Detroit Red Wings||51.78|
We can also have a little more confidence that we’re looking at the ‘real’ Edmonton Oilers now as their PDO sits at 100.3. Both their shooting percentage (7.87%, 15th) and team save percentage (92.41%, 14th) at even-strength is right around league average again.
Having a CF% of 49.27% puts them right around where some of the playoff bubble teams, like Boston, Philadelphia, New York Islanders and Florida, were sitting last season. This doesn’t guarantee teams anything, but it increases their chances of making the playoffs considerably by having good possession numbers. Carolina, for example, had a great possession numbers throughout last season, but they also had the second worst team save percentage. Toronto was in a similar situation as they did well possession-wise, but they were sunk by poor goaltending and the worst shooting percentage at even-strength. The Oilers are a in a good spot with good goaltending from Cam Talbot (as long as he stays healthy), and enough skill up front to finish their scoring chances. If they can maintain a good CF%, by using the right on-ice tactics and deploying players properly, they should be able to compete for a playoff spot.
The Bad: Please Stop Hurting Us
by Minnia Feng
This is a plea to the gods, all the gods, mostly the hockey ones, but any will do.
On behalf of Edmonton Oilers fans across the globe, I beseech you to stop harming the innocent bodies of the players on this team. I know we have offended you for whatever reason— truly, we are sorry, no matter what the offense may have been. Please accept our heartfelt apology and refrain from further additions to our disabled list.
We have lost many good men, and now we have lost more. In addition to our lost brothers Matt Hendricks, Iiro Pakarinen, Drake Caggiula, Brandon Davidson, and Mark Fayne, we now keep in our prayers new victims Zack Kassian, Jesse Puljujarvi :], and Kris Russell, all three eager young souls who were really beginning to find their game of late.
Why must you punish us when we see a glimmer of happiness, year after year, when we have suffered through so much? Is the collective pain of this fanbase not enough to satiate your greed? Gods, help me to understand what I must do to abate this flow of pain— shall I sacrifice some stuffed Rilakkuma bears at the shrine in Kyoto tomorrow? Shall I make an offering of the snack “Nutella & GO!” every day at 4:55pm? There must be a way to undo this curse!
Until then, we will solemnly hope for the quick recovery of these lads. Please, no Klefbom-style trickery with freak injuries thrown in, please. If there’s one thing that’s taken the biggest beating these few years, it’s been the delicate little souls of poor Oilers fans everywhere. Please collect our tears and be kind.
The Ugly: Connor McDavid’s Kick Pass
by Ryan Batty
<sarcasm>We’re a dozen game into Connor McDavid’s second NHL season, but because of an injury last year he’s yet to play even 60 games in the best league in the world, and still there is a very real possibility that he’s already the best player on the planet; if he’s not at the very top of your list, he certainly is close. As soon as McDavid jumps the boards, his speed and play making abilities instantly tilt the ice towards the opposition’s net. It’s amazing to watch and I’m thrilled that he’s going to be a member of the Oilers for a very, very long time.
But we need to talk about this kick pass for a second. I’m sure that you know the pay that I’m talking about, the one from the game against the New York Rangers on Thursday night. I guess for those who might have missed it, or those who just want to see it again, take a look below. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that that kick is intentional. He turns his foot and directs that puck right to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the first goal of the game.
McDavid can even set up goals without his stick... pic.twitter.com/F5yZC7xWIn— #HockeyFightsCancer (@NHL) November 3, 2016
If you want to spend your entire life working towards the goal of not just making the NHL, but being the best player in the game, that’s fine. To each their own. But when you stop using your stick and are still collecting first assists like this, well now you’re just showing off and nobody like a show off. </sarcasm>