An area that I expected the Oilers to improve upon this season was overall shot generation and creating chances around the opponents net. This was mainly due to the fact that Todd McLellan had a lot of success in San Jose relying heavily on volume shooting to control the possession battle and win games.
Volume shooting, I don't know what that does to Corsi or Fenwick because I don't even know what those things are, but volume shooting is important. I think it breaks down defensive zone coverages, gets players out of position, taxes the opposition, makes them play more minutes in their zone. - Todd McLellan (Source)
Couple things to keep in mind when it comes to McLellan's volume shooting. From my own analysis last summer, I found that a higher proportion of shot attempts (i.e., Corsi) came from the defence core in San Jose when McLellan was coaching. It was also found in the data from zone entry projects that McLellan's Sharks weren't very strong in the neutral zone, but found success by dumping the puck frequently and generating chances off of that (Source: Hockey Graphs).
So far it looks like the Oilers have implemented McLellan's tactics and have improved when it comes to overall shot attempts per 60 minutes at 5v5. The issue is that they still allow a lot of shot attempts, so they haven't exactly seen their share of shot attempts improve much (Source: Corsica Hockey).
Here we see that the Oilers have gradually improved and are even hovering around the league average when it comes to shot attempts/60. I've included the Sharks history as well to get a sense of just how good they were under McLellan, who was coach between 2008/09 and 2014/15. Oddly enough, the Sharks have been in a steady decline, with their first season without McLellan being one of their worst when it comes to this metric.
If the shot attempts are improving, I thought it'd be worth seeing if this has translated into more frequent rebound attempts, something that McLellan has emphasized referring to players "attacking the blue paint". And it makes sense as a lot of goals come from rebounds in and around the crease. Please note that rebounds are defined by Corsica Hockey as "any shot taken within two seconds of uninterrupted game time of any other shot by the same team".
Here we see again that the Oilers have improved in a facet of the game that is important to the coach and critical for scoring goals.The problem for the Oilers right now is that they continue to allow a lot of shot attempts as well as rebounds, ranking near the bottom of the league when it comes to both of these metrics. I've included the Sharks numbers again just to get a sense of how well the club played with McLellan behind the bench from 2008-09 to 2014/15. McLellan had his team consistently near the top of the league when it came to shot attempts and rebounds, for AND against, which the Oilers can hopefully continue to improve upon going forward.
We can also take the rebound stats one step further and start to get a sense of which individual players are good at attacking the blue paint. Below is a sortable table listing all of the Oilers forwards this season (minimum of 25 games played), with their individual rebounds/60 at 5v5. I've also included the team rebound rate per 60 when they're on the ice.
|Player||GP||TOI||Individual Rebounds||Individual Rebounds/60||On-ice Rebounds For/60|
I'm not too surprised to see Hall and Yakupov at the top, as they've been leading the team when it comes to overall high danger scoring chances from the slot this season. Our good friend Lauri Korpikoski is near the top when it comes to rebounds for, which might explain why McLellan continues playing him despite his deficiencies. The problem for Korpikoski is that he ranks first overall on the team when it comes to the rate at which rebounds occur in front of his own net when he's on the ice. Have to say that I'm a little surprised to see Eberle in the bottom five, as he plays a lot of minutes, often with the best linemates. Worth reviewing again at the end of the season.
Below is a breakdown of each player's on-ice rebounds-for per 60 and rebounds against. I've sorted the forwards by highest to lowest when it comes to rebounds for, with McDavid, Eberle and Hall ranking at the top. As mentioned above, we see that while Korpikoski is on the ice for a lot rebounds, and often has the rebound attempts coming from his stick, the club sees a high number of rebounds against when he's on the ice.
For the defencemen, since it's their job to clear the crease and prevent rebounds, I've sorted them by rebounds-against, from lowest to highest. Here we see Davidson and Klefbom at the top. Sekera appears to be on the ice for a lot of rebounds against, which is a little concerning as he plays a lot of minutes against top opponents.
Todd McLellan obviously had a much better roster in San Jose, with way better luck when it came to injuries. But we know from the data that his teams relied on shot volume to create second chances and really control the play at even-strength. What we've seen up until this point is that the Oilers have improved when it comes to generating shot attempts and rebounds, and should continue to improve with a healthy lineup going forward. On the flip side, the team continues to allow far too many shots and rebounds, ranking near the bottom of the league. It's my hope that Chiarelli recognizes this and makes adjustments throughout the roster this summer, especially on defence and the bottom six.