Well, that was less than ideal. As we all know Edmonton was embarrassed and eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night.
While other writers have covered the series and what happened in these short playoffs, I thought I would look back and memorialize the Oilers 2019-20 and how they even got to playing Chicago.
Edmonton finished the season as the 12th-best team in the NHL based on points percentage. They were seventh in terms of points. The Oilers scored the 12th most goals in the league (223, 3.14 GPG) and gave up the 12 most goals (215 GA, 3.03 GAPG).
The Oilers operated the best power-play in the league scoring on 29.5% of their chances. It was the fourth-best in NHL history and the est since the 82-83 Oilers posted a 29.3 powerplay percentage. Edmonton’s penalty kill was no slouch, either, posting an 84.4 per cent success rate which was second-best in the league.
The Oilers special teams work this year was tremendous and was a big reason they had such a successful regular season.
If games got beyond regulation, Edmonton struggled. In overtime, the Oilers went 4-7 and an even 2-2 in the shootout which ranked 26th and 20th, respectively.
This year the road saw much more success than at home for Edmonton. They posted the 11th best road record at 20-14-3 and the 17th best home record at 17-11-6.
Another big reason for their success in the regular season was their record against the Eastern Conference. They posted the fifth-best record going 17-7-3 largely in thanks to a dominant 11-2 record against the Metro.
Within their own conference and division, however, Edmonton didn’t fare quite as well. Their 20th best 20-18-6 record against the west isn’t very good and leaves room for improvement, especially after going 9-9-2 against a tough Central division.
What is interesting to note, too, is that Edmonton played well in tight games. In games decided by one goal, the Oilers held the ninth-best record in the league going 15-4-9. The aforementioned OT/SO losses can largely be to blame there.
Edmonton had a high shooting percentage this year, 10.6%, good enough for fourth overall. Looking at overall save percentage, Edmonton’s .905 was 14th overall, and ever-so-slightly above average and their 5v5 save percentage of 91.23 was 25th in the league.
At 5v5, Edmonton struggled to control play for much of the season. Their 47.87 CF% was 27th in the league and their 5v5 goals for percentage wasn’t much better at 47.32 per cent.
The big picture
The Oilers had a very good season. There’s no other way to put it. But when you pick through the details there are certain flaws in the Oilers game. Their 5v5 play was once again brutal, but special teams shone and helped drag the Oilers to a top finish in the league.
Edmonton jumped out of the gate with a strong start to the season going 9-4-1 in October outscoring opponents 42-37. It featured a five-game winning streak to start the season and was about as much as anybody could ask for.
Come November, you could see the wheels starting to be a bit janky. Edmonton went 7-5-2 outscoring opponents 46-45, which by no means was a terrible stretch. With Mike Smith starting seven of those games, he went 3-4 and that was a big reason why we saw some struggles.
In December, the Oilers really struggled. They closed out the 2019 calendar year with a dismal 5-8-1 record and those pesky, terrible Oilers we’ve grown accustomed to came to play. Edmonton got outscored 37-52 and things… things were not looking good for the team. The moral seemed to be low, the team couldn’t buy a win, but everything seemed to change on New Year’s Eve.
Now, maybe it was the fact that it was the first game I watched post-move to Edmonton, but I’m inclined to believe it was actually the recall of Kailer Yamamoto and the creation of the dynamite line.
The Oilers won that NYE game against the Rangers in dominant fashion toppling them 7-5 as I sat and drank some bubbly.
You could say it was a turning point of sorts for what had become a mediocre season. Edmonton lit the league up down the stretch. In January, they posted a 6-1-2 record outscoring teams 37-25. February was another solid month going 7-5-2 with a 42-42 goal pace.
Edmonton rounded out the regular season in March going 3-2-1 before COVID-19 happened and shut things down.
We all know how the season ended with an embarrassing dismissal by the Chicago Blackhawks and now, the Oilers will have months and months to reflect on what just happened.
In the first year of head coach Dave Tippett, we saw him do what he does by turning around a middling team into an instant contender. Undoubtedly there was some concerns coming into this year, and while he had the Oilers playing some of their best hockey in the last 15 years, he still managed to outcoach himself in the playoffs leading to an early dismissal from the quest for the cup. I reckon he’ll be spending lots of time analyzing just what went wrong.
The Oilers had a strong season, but there are still some major holes that need to be plugged. Over the next few days, I’m going to dive deeper into the Oilers forwards, defencemen, goaltenders, the prospects and what we can expect from the Edmonton Oilers moving forward.
If I had to guess, it could be an offseason where Ken Holland has his work cut out for him. An early look shows a lack of veteran leadership and a still leaky, albeit young, defence. In net, the Oilers have as many questions as they do answers.
Nonetheless, here lies the big picture of the 2019-20 Edmonton Oilers regular season.
On Twitter: @zjlaing