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Turning Edmonton into a High-Event Team

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Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most entertaining teams to watch this season have been the Dallas Stars. With a well constructed roster, they're near the top of the league when it comes to goals and points percentage, and have also posted some excellent underlying numbers as well at even-strength (Source: War on Ice and Hockey Reference).

Dallas Stars - 2015/16 (5v5)

Record 35-15-5 3rd
Points% 0.636 2nd
Goals For% 52.8% 5th
Corsi For% (Adjusted) 53.8% 2nd
Scoring Chances For% 54.5% 2nd
Shots For% 52.8% 5th
Save% 91.9% 20th
Shooting% 8.1% 6th

The Stars really rely on being a high-event team, meaning they generate a high number of shots that are well above the league average, but they also allow shots, which has them closer to the league average. They currently rank second overall in total shot attempts per 60 (both for and against), but are one of the few teams, really in the history of the league, that are on the ice for that many shots but still posts a Corsi For% above 51%. This makes for some very entertaining hockey as they don't seem to mind exchanging chances with opponents, playing more of a high risk, high reward style, and are having success scoring goals.

It's my hope that with McLellan behind the bench the Oilers can become one of these high event teams and still maintain strong possession numbers. During his seven years as head coach of the Sharks, the club posted strong possession numbers and really didn't mind playing a style similar to Dallas exchanging shot attempts with the opposition to have success. As we see below, his teams were well above the league average when it came to shot attempts for/60, but when it came to shot attempts against/60, the Sharks were at times above the league average.

There's obviously no guarantee that the Oilers will emulate exactly what the Sharks did under McLellan. But for those of us that like watching teams like the Stars, this should be  highly encouraging. The issue for the Oilers will be adding enough skill and experience to the defence core and really finding players that can not only force low-risk shots, but also move the puck out efficiently. I think the Oilers do have enough talent up front to play this style, and the goaltending with Talbot as the starter is good enough to handle the extra workload.

Takeaway

I'd love to see the Oilers become a high-event team, similar to the Stars. It's a highly entertaining style of hockey that I hope to see other teams emulate. Having said that, it might get frustrating for fans as high-event teams could win games 5-1 or lose games 5-1 on any given night. The other issue is that the team would need to change how they construct their line up, which would require three scoring lines and a defence core with more than one puck mover. Something I hope Chiarelli can work on at the trade deadline and in the summer.