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No one statistic will accurately tell you how a team is playing, or furthermore, how they will play in the future. I’ve learned from smart analytics people that you need to look at many stats, and then combine video, to try to make a more accurate projection. And even then, with around 35% of the game still luck based, it is very difficult to predict what will occur.

That is great, because it if became too predictable it would get boring. Well, except for those who bet on games. They would love it.

As the Oilers improved to 8-2-1 with a gutsy come-from-behind victory last night, I still received notes suggesting the Oilers are still not close to being a good because of some analytics.

So let’s look at those, while keeping in mind this is only 11 games.

Corsi: Tracks all shot attempts at 5×5. Shots on goal, missed shots and shots that are blocked. Corsi For is for shots taken, and Corsi Against is from the opposition.  

The Oilers are currently 24th in CF% sitting at 47.87% courtesy of Corsica.
They are -40, having attempted 449 shots and allowed 489.
So on average the opposition has fired 3.6 more shot attempt/game through 11 games.

Fenwick: Tracks all shots that aren’t blocked at 5×5. Both shots and missed shots for and against. Personally, I like Fenwick better than Corsi.

The Oilers are currently 21st in FF% sitting at 48.6%.
They are -19 having attempted 331 shots and allowed 350.
On average the opposition has fired 1.72 more unblocked shot attempts/game.

Shots F%: This tracks only shots on goal for and against.

The Oilers are currently 19th in SF% at 49.19%.
They are -8 having attempted 242 and allowed 250.
The opposition has averaged 0.72 more shots per game.

GF%: This stat tracks goals for and against at 5×5.
The Oilers are currently 14th at 51.28%
They are +1 having scored 20 and allowed 19.
They are outscoring the opposition by 0.1 goals per game.

It is interesting to note that the Oilers improve from Corsi, to Fenwick to SF% to GF%.

More Metrics

PDO: It adds a team’s Shooting % and Save %. The theory behind PDO is that eventually most teams will be around 100 when things even out. 

The Oilers at 5×5 are ranked 13th via Corsica.
They sit at 100.66. Right around the mean.
I’ve heard people suggest their overall PDO is the issue, because they are second in the NHL at 103.3.

They have had very good special teams, but even with their special teams losing the battle last night against Washington, they managed to win the game.

SH%: The percentage of goals to shot ratio.
The Oilers sit 12th in 5×5 SH% at 8.26%.
It is amazing to me they are there considering so few forwards have scored at 5×5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jujhar Khaira, Alex Chiasson, Riley Sheahan, Colby Cave, Gaetan Haas, Tomas Jurco, Joakim Nygard, Patrick Russell, Josh Archibald, Markus Granlund and Sam Gagner have combined for ZERO goals at 5×5.

They have combined for 80 shots at 5×5 in a 896:50 of icetime. Unreal. It is truly remarkable. They can only improve.

The four forwards who have scored are Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Zack Kassian and James Neal.

Draisaitl is at 20%. Do you know what his 5×5 SH% was last year? It was 20%. He could be a player who carries a high SH%.
McDavid is at 13% this season. He was 15.29% last year.
Kassian is at 23% with three goals on 13 shots. His will come down.
Neal is at 17.6%. He too will likely come down to around 11% based on his career average, but it is also important to point out his shots/60 rate is at 6.9, but he’s been over 9.28 in seven of the past eight years. Last year in Calgary he was 8.26. So you expect he will shoot more. His SH% will come down, but with his shot volume going up his 5×5 goal production likely won’t change very much.

The Oilers team SH% will likely be a bit higher than other teams, simply because Draisaitl and McDavid can score a lot of goals despite massively high shot volumes. I don’t see that changing this year or in the near future.

SV%: The percentage of saves to shot ratio.

The Oilers sit 13th in 5×5 SV% at 92.4%.
They are getting solid goaltending, but dropping just 1% would put them 20th. It isn’t like they are rolling along at 94 or 95%.

WRAP UP…

Oct 16, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Ethan Bear (74) celebrates a first period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

I wrote earlier this week that the Oilers winning % will come down. Virtually every team winning seven of 10 games will eventually see those win totals diminish. But I don’t see the Oilers analytics ridiculously out of whack. I will openly admit I’m not the biggest fan of Corsi — I prefer FF% or SF% and in those two cases the Oilers are not being dominated. They can improve, you bet, but being outshot by under one shot/game at 5×5 isn’t a big deal for me.

The biggest improvement on the team is their support all over the ice. Their breakouts are much smoother, and more efficient, because the forwards are giving the defence better and closer outlets, and the defence is moving the puck better.

Ethan Bear has played a major role in this. His patience and poise has been very impressive. Last night I counted eight different times where under pressure, he made a quick outlet pass and the Oilers were out of the zone.

Better zone exits don’t guarantee more shots on goal, they simply eliminate times in the defensive zone, and I believe that reflects with the Oilers masssive reduction in goals against. And it isn’t just because they are getting great penalty killing, although no doubt that helps. The Oilers have been shorthanded the 10th most times so far this season, but they are 16th in time shorthanded per game at 3.27. Right now their PK is solid, allowing only five goals against. But if they allowed even just one more they’d be tied for 14th in PP goals against.

So their PK has been really solid, but not so great that you should expect a massive plummeting down the standings.

Their powerplay was good last season, and it remains that way, despite not scoring a PP goal in three games. But with the talent on their PP, it should be in the top-ten. They aren’t overachieving in that regard.

I think it is important to dive deep into the numbers. They can offer us a good insight into some things the human eye can’t always see in real time, or even on replay unless you dissect every play.

What are you seeing when you watch the games and/or crunch the numbers?

PARTING SHOT…

Last night was the first time Dave Tippett addressed the lack of depth scoring. He has known about it all along, but he has always talked about the positives of those players. Smart coaching — keep them thinking positive. But last night he addressed the elephant in the room.

“It is a concern,” said Tippett. “Those guys are working hard, and there is a lot of talk within our group to find ways to improve our offensive game. I like their work ethic, their penalty kill, but at some point, we have to start chipping in a bit.”

Ken Holland’s plan was to allow Kailer Yamamoto, Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody and other young forwards many months of time in the AHL to keep developing, and specifically in the case of Yamamoto, to get some offensive mojo back. He would still like to stick to that, but if the depth scoring drought continues he will have no choice but to make a call-up.

Brandon Perlini has asked for a trade out of Chicago. The 23-year-old has only dressed in one game this season. He scored 12-3-15 in 46 games with the Hawks last season after being acquired from Arizona.

In his rookie season in 2016/2017 he produced 14-7-21 in 57 games. The next season he scored 17-13-30 in 74 games, and last year combined for 14-7-21 in 68 games. There seems to be a player there, but I wonder what the issue in Chicago is.

He is 6’3 and 210 pounds and he can skate. He is in the final year of his contact and he has just under a $875,000 cap hit. If I’m Ken Holland I’m calling Stan Bowman right away to see what type of return he is looking for. That is always the challenge in a trade. You often want a player, but are you willing to match the asking price?

In his two and a quarter seasons in Arizona he had the third most goals on the team with 33, behind only Clayton Keller (37) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (40). He has some skill, and I got two Pacific conference scouts to give me their assessment of him.

“He’s big, can skate and has a really good shot. Doesn’t have great playmaking vision. For his size and speed his work ethic can be inconsistent,” texted the first scout.

“When he wants to play he can be really good, but he doesn’t always want to. He has a lot of talent, but needs his ticker (heart) to beat more consistently. He could score 25 goals in this league if he wanted to.”

Many will wonder if you’d trade Jesse Puljujarvi for him. Perlini was the 12th pick in 2014, so like Puljujarvi he was a high pick. An ex-GM told me he wouldn’t trade Puljuarvi straight up for Perlini. He still believes Puljujarvi can be a player, and evaluating what he did at 18-20 when he wasn’t NHL ready can be misleading.

If the asking price is right, I’d for sure take a chance on Perlini.

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