The Edmonton Oilers On The Penalty Kill: Good News

Jonathan Willis
March 22 2012 09:08AM

The Edmonton Oilers have been much better on the penalty kill this season than they have been in virtually forever. After years of being a punch line while down a man, they currently sit 19th in the NHL in terms of killing penalties. While 19th out of 30 is hardly the stuff people typically put on resumes, it does represent a step up.

Unfortunately, of late the penalty kill has started sliding. Just before Christmas, the Oilers were killing off 83.5% of penalties they took. Today, that number sits at just 81.6%. Is the magic gone?

In a word, no.

Ryan Batty at Copper and Blue took a long look at the penalty kill back in January, so we can use his numbers, compare them to full-season totals, and figure out what’s going on. All numbers come in 4-on-5 situations and are courtesy of Batty or Behind the Net.

Segment 4v5 GA 4v5 SA 4v5 TOI 4v5 SA/60 4v5 SV%
First 49 games 31 260 307.5 50.7 88.08%
Last 24 games 12 74 100.9 44.0 83.78%

What do those numbers mean?

Firstly, looking at time on ice we can see that the Oilers have spent less time on the penalty kill. Bruce McCurdy looked at this and saw a sharp drop off in penalties called both for and against the Oilers and league-wide.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, the Oilers recent difficulties are entirely save percentage driven. It’s not a result of the Oilers penalty-killers allowing the team to get barraged by shots. This is a good thing – save percentage fluctuates up and down in the short-term, and this is probably a temporary lapse. The fact that the team is still preventing shots at a better rate than they have the last few years is huge.

The Oilers’ PK save percentage this season as a whole is 87.1%, just slightly below league average (87.8%). In two of the last three seasons, the team’s save percentage in 4-on-5 situations has been in the 87.5% range, so this should be considered business as usual and something that can be counted on going forward.

The Oilers shots against totals the last few years have ranged between 55-60 shots against over an average hour shorthanded. This year, the team is sitting at around 49 shots again per hour 4-on-5; that’s a big improvement and the biggest reason that their penalty kill has improved overall.

In short: unlike the power play, these improvements are worth banking on for next season.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
March 22 2012, 11:28AM
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@Clyde Frog

I admire what Duncan Keith did to Sedin. It takes alot of balls to do what he did and handle the oncoming attention that came his way. He did what needed to be done and the Blackhawks got the two points. A job well done i'd say. The instigator rule alone will screw the Canucks to no end. It's something the twins are use to by now i'm sure.

The Oilers need to initiate some well placed violence. As the Oilers sit today, they'll still have the proverbial lambs to the slaughter thing happening.

Peckham should send Stamkos through the glass tonight and stir the pot. Throw that first punch, stir the pot or be stirred.

Some guys (Duncan Keith) just want to win more than others.

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#2 friday the FISTeenth
March 22 2012, 09:18AM
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Im not a big fan of PP...so this article was better than the other one. Thanks

hehe...PP..

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#3 Big
March 22 2012, 09:29AM
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So if our penalty kill is so much better and our power play is so much better why are we still a last place team?? If these stats are the same next year what changes??

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#4 Clyde Frog
March 22 2012, 09:56AM
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On a completely unrelated note, is it bad if I wish our Sarich response was exactly what Duncan Keith did?

Instead of having Peckham follow him around like an angry poodle yipping, just drop an elbow right on Camalleri's jaw... And don't worry about making it look organic, just do it the second you get within 3 feet of him?

I hate cheap play, but hate watch the kids get run so much more and firmly believe fighting does nothing to deter these boys.

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#5 Team EHH
March 22 2012, 09:59AM
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One of the problems affecting win/loss is that the Oilers are not getting enough penalty calls. Time and again referees ignore obvious infractions against them ...especially to Hall and Eberle. Give the Oilers more powere plays and the wins will increase.

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#6 Dman09
March 22 2012, 10:33AM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

On a completely unrelated note, is it bad if I wish our Sarich response was exactly what Duncan Keith did?

Instead of having Peckham follow him around like an angry poodle yipping, just drop an elbow right on Camalleri's jaw... And don't worry about making it look organic, just do it the second you get within 3 feet of him?

I hate cheap play, but hate watch the kids get run so much more and firmly believe fighting does nothing to deter these boys.

In the 80's fighting helped but that was also before the penalties for instigating and coming off the bench for the scrum were made. I hate to say it because like you I don't like the dirty hits like Keith's but how else can these guys respond. If your going to get 2 mins for instigating you might as well just elbow a guy and make the 2 mins worth it. There is not justice on the ice and the refing doesn't do Sh*t especially when they decide not to call anything. I'm all for on ice justice as long as it doesn't come to a Bertuzzi like move but is an elbow to the jam much different.

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#7 Simpsonite
March 22 2012, 10:40AM
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Big wrote:

So if our penalty kill is so much better and our power play is so much better why are we still a last place team?? If these stats are the same next year what changes??

5 on 5 has been atrocious I think...I'm not sure what the improvement has been on that side of the blue line at all...pp is better, pk is better, EV not quite. Curious if we have been in more 1 goal games this year than last as well. That would indicate some sort of improvement I bet...

If our EV improves a bit more next year and the pp and pk stay the same then I bet we will see an improvement somewhere in there...

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#8 Simpsonite
March 22 2012, 10:44AM
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Simpsonite wrote:

5 on 5 has been atrocious I think...I'm not sure what the improvement has been on that side of the blue line at all...pp is better, pk is better, EV not quite. Curious if we have been in more 1 goal games this year than last as well. That would indicate some sort of improvement I bet...

If our EV improves a bit more next year and the pp and pk stay the same then I bet we will see an improvement somewhere in there...

And by somewhere in there I mean the standings...

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#9 A-Mc
March 22 2012, 10:49AM
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Big wrote:

So if our penalty kill is so much better and our power play is so much better why are we still a last place team?? If these stats are the same next year what changes??

Our 5 on 5 numbers aren't that good. Special teams play has been good, but our 5 on 5 isn't the greatest.

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I could be wrong, but I don't think our PK was that bad last year. Sure it sucked to start, but I somehow thought it was about average from December on.

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#11 FastOil
March 22 2012, 11:59AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

I admire what Duncan Keith did to Sedin. It takes alot of balls to do what he did and handle the oncoming attention that came his way. He did what needed to be done and the Blackhawks got the two points. A job well done i'd say. The instigator rule alone will screw the Canucks to no end. It's something the twins are use to by now i'm sure.

The Oilers need to initiate some well placed violence. As the Oilers sit today, they'll still have the proverbial lambs to the slaughter thing happening.

Peckham should send Stamkos through the glass tonight and stir the pot. Throw that first punch, stir the pot or be stirred.

Some guys (Duncan Keith) just want to win more than others.

Watched the game, Keith was reacting to a shoulder to the head late by Sedin a few shifts before. Keith is a smaller guy, so I guess he sent a message - run me and I'll be coming. Messier would be proud.

The Sedins seem to have become pretty dirty players. I guess Burrows is rubbing off. The cheap shot on Keith, lots of slashing etc.

Looks like the Canucks are getting ready for the playoffs. Taking the first cheap shot and then getting hysterical and self pitying when the other team kicks their butts. Burrows is a weasel of the highest order. The way he face washes, pulls chin straps in the scrum and avoids an actual fight is something.

Kassian is a real piece of work. The Oilers should have made that deal if they wanted more grit. He made some pretty good plays as well.

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#12 Truth
March 22 2012, 12:08PM
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@Clyde Frog

I could not agree more.

Isn't it funny that no single Canuck would go and try to drop the gloves with Keith but Burrows, Kesler, Bieksa, etc. would all go after him at the same time after the whistle. That is why no one likes you, Canucks.

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#13 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
March 22 2012, 12:15PM
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FastOil wrote:

Watched the game, Keith was reacting to a shoulder to the head late by Sedin a few shifts before. Keith is a smaller guy, so I guess he sent a message - run me and I'll be coming. Messier would be proud.

The Sedins seem to have become pretty dirty players. I guess Burrows is rubbing off. The cheap shot on Keith, lots of slashing etc.

Looks like the Canucks are getting ready for the playoffs. Taking the first cheap shot and then getting hysterical and self pitying when the other team kicks their butts. Burrows is a weasel of the highest order. The way he face washes, pulls chin straps in the scrum and avoids an actual fight is something.

Kassian is a real piece of work. The Oilers should have made that deal if they wanted more grit. He made some pretty good plays as well.

Oh, so it was the Sedins who chose to stir the pot. Thanks FastOil, never seen the game last night.

If the Sedins are delivering the first blows now, then the Canucks have learned something from last yrs playoff loss. Could be a long disappointing spring for anti-Canucks nation.

Hall,Hopkins and Eberle take notice.

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#14 FastOil
March 22 2012, 12:58PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Oh, so it was the Sedins who chose to stir the pot. Thanks FastOil, never seen the game last night.

If the Sedins are delivering the first blows now, then the Canucks have learned something from last yrs playoff loss. Could be a long disappointing spring for anti-Canucks nation.

Hall,Hopkins and Eberle take notice.

Not to worry. Vancouver was flattered by that score. They are not playing well at all. If Crawford played better the Hawks would have blanked them.

Chicago has some really nice forwards. They are going to pay the price though for not addressing goal, and not finding some depth for the D. Things get pretty shaky after Keith and Seabrook, and Keith is still struggling with D zone coverage.

Oduya scored the winner (on a great feed from Boland) but was terrible overall. The Canucks played his side all night and the majority of their chances (including the goal) were on his watch. Brutal. The Hawks (and Canucks) will be in tough to go far. Toews coming back would help Chi a lot.

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@Jonathan Willis

From Dec 2 to the end of the year they were 80.8%. From March 1st to the end they were 80%.

The 67% that we were to start the year is what was brutal.

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#17 Smokey
March 23 2012, 09:36AM
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It says to me the Oilers need to upgrade the penalty killers, and bottom 6 forwards. Need another 3rd or 4th line winger who can skate, hit, and kill penalties. Or teach MPS to use his speed to kill penalties.

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#18 Smokey
March 23 2012, 09:44AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

I admire what Duncan Keith did to Sedin. It takes alot of balls to do what he did and handle the oncoming attention that came his way. He did what needed to be done and the Blackhawks got the two points. A job well done i'd say. The instigator rule alone will screw the Canucks to no end. It's something the twins are use to by now i'm sure.

The Oilers need to initiate some well placed violence. As the Oilers sit today, they'll still have the proverbial lambs to the slaughter thing happening.

Peckham should send Stamkos through the glass tonight and stir the pot. Throw that first punch, stir the pot or be stirred.

Some guys (Duncan Keith) just want to win more than others.

Takes balls to elbow to the head? Matt Cooke balls must drag 6 feet behind him then. It was cheep and cowardly and selfish. So they got two points, last time I checked the Hawks are thin on defence, their missing their best player and he's now gone 5 games. Now his team has to play without their second best player and they haven't sealed up a playoff spot.

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@Smokey

Hopefully that is something MPS will get in the AHL.

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