That's... not a good sign

Jonathan Willis
March 09 2014 10:57PM


The Edmonton Oilers have not been a particularly stingy defensive team over the last five or six seasons, which is something like saying that winter in Canada isn't especially balmy. But even against that bar, this year's edition of the team is primed for record-setting badness in at least one category.

Shots Against 

Shots against

The chart above shows two things: the number of games per season where the Oilers surrendered 40-or-more shot, and the number of times the total was 50-or-more. The numbers for 2012-13 have been projected over an 82-game schedule, as have the numbers for this season. 

Against Los Angeles on Sunday, the Oilers allowed 50+ shots against for the second time this season. It's the first campaign since 1994 where the team played more than one game in which they allowed that many shots on net, and with 17 games left to play Edmonton is on pace to match the franchise's all-time high for games allowing 50-or-more shots in a single season (in 1992-92 the team did it three times).

The Rebuild

Dallas Eakins 18

It's more than fair to wonder about the state of the Oilers' rebuild at this point. This season's group hasn't had better results than Tom Renney's crew in 2011-12, and the decision to can Ralph Krueger (keep in mind that his team only played games against Western opponents) has not had results.

We can talk about shot quality, as Dallas Eakins has in recent days, but the reality is this: when a team allows shot after shot after shot, it means they're pinned in their own end. That can be mitigated a bit by allowing low quality shots, and it can be further alleviated by tremendous goaltending (as Ben Scrivens has so excellently demonstrated lately). But hanging around in the defensive zone is a recipe for disaster.

Eventually, bad things will happen. Eakins described the puck deflected in off Philip Larsen as a heart-breaker; it's true, but that's what happens to teams that hang around in the defensive zone. 

And the worst part is that things are getting worse. Via, the following chart shows Edmonton's 10-game rolling Fenwick rating in 5-on-5 situations. That's a fancy way of saying that the line shows the percentage of unblocked shots Edmonton is taking at evens while the game is still within reach:

Edmonton Oilers 2013-2014 rolling 10-game 5v5 close FF%

They're winning games now, but that's only because Ben Scrivens is playing like Dominik Hasek. That can't last; it's good that he's capable of it but it's not enough to keep the team winning. And despite the wins, that chart is a decent argument that things are getting worse. Or, you know, the 50 shots Edmonton allowed against Los Angeles. 

That strong goalie play is masking extremely serious problems, or at least generally it's doing so. Sometimes, as with Sunday's game, even incredible goalie performances aren't enough because the team in front of that goaltender is being lit up like a Christmas tree by competent opposition. 


Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
#101 Towersofdub
March 10 2014, 04:18PM
Trash it!


Ference, Yakupov....I'm curious to know how closely you watch Oilers games if you don't know how the players names are spelled.

#102 Randaman
March 10 2014, 10:07PM
Trash it!
Zarny wrote:

Spare me your drivel.

At no point in time have I ever insinuated the Oilers are 1 or 2 moves away. They need to two top pairing D and 2 different top 6 F alone.

Dubnyk was not the sole cause of the team's collapse but last year he was solid while this year he was letting in beach balls from the blueline.

And in case you missed the memo, if you ignore the first 20 games the Oilers are 3 games below 0.500 which is exactly what they were last year.

Ignore the first 20 games? Do they do that when it comes to the standings at play-off time? Throw out your best and worst and take the middle sample to judge by, kind of like figure skating. Interesting concept. Did they do that where you played Junior "A"? Nothing like blowing your own horn to make people think you are knowledgeable. Admit it, Eakins and the rest of this inept coaching staff have caused a huge regression of all players in all areas. Admit the mistake, suck it up and correct that mistake and move forward! He must be fired or we will lose Yak to the KHL, Hall will want out, etc. etc.

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