The Edmonton Oilers are 7-1-0 after eight games and everything is coming up McDavid. Is everything as sunny as the won-loss record? It depends. When Connor McDavid is on the ice, things are gold. Off ice? Well…. We are too early in the game to be able to trust any of the numbers, but let’s have a look anyway to see how some of these things are trending.
One of the major stories this season is the team’s gap in quality when Connor McDavid is on and off the ice. Let’s use Corsi for and against at 5×5 to measure quality:
- Oilers 5×5 Corsi for-against: 323-361 (47.22)
- McDavid Oilers 5×5 Corsi for-against: 128-116 (52.46)
- Without McDavid Oilers 5×5 Corsi for-against: 195-245 (44.3)
That is a massive gap, and frankly leaves the Oilers badly exposed in case of injury. One of the things Peter Chiarelli was counting on after trading Taylor Hall was a second scoring line developing. That hasn’t happened yet, and I do believe we should monitor Leon’s handling at the first sign of a scoring slump by the Oilers. I suspect he will get moved up to the Nuge line in a quick damn hurry.
SEASON OVER SEASON NUMBERS
I am going to write these categories with the 2016-17 numbers and then put (2015-16 numbers in brackets).
- 5×5 Goals for Percentage: 60.0 (44.3)
Well, that is a spike for sure. Edmonton has gone from the bottom (No. 29 a year ago) to near the top in this category. The question we have to ask ourselves is in regard to sustainability, and there is some evidence that luck (Tyler Pitlick 3 goals, Nuge 0 goals) has played a part in both directions.
- 5×5 Shots-For Percentage: 49.1 (48.5)
This is a slight improvement, don’t think we can trust this as being an actual reflection of improvement—we need to wait until 20 games are completed to trust these things. It looks good, trending well, but beyond that, not much to see here.
- 5×5 Fenwick For Percentage: 47.8 (48.3)
A slight downturn, certainly not anything to fret about at this time.
- 5×5 Corsi For Percentage: 47.3 (48.8)
This is the metric I follow closely as the season rolls along, there is a tie between successful teams and good numbers in this category. Edmonton has been ahead in several games this season, so score effects are a factor—but you would like to see this number edging closer to 50.0 percent as the season rolls.
- 5×5 Shooting Percentage: 9.73 (7.17)
One of the things we are seeing this year is Edmonton doing well in areas where regression is likely. Shooting percentage is one of them, as hovering around 10 percent as a team isn’t something Edmonton does routinely. Shot volume is a favorite phrase of Todd McLellan, I believe the Oilers would have to increase the volume in order to score at current rates throughout the season. When we look at this after game 20, this number may be closer to last year.
- 5×5 Save Percentage: 93.75 (91.53)
Cam Talbot has been terrific this year (did you see that stop last night late? Lordy) and that performance is reflected in these numbers. Edmonton has had an easier schedule in October, with plenty of home games, short travel and adequate rest between contests. There is a good chance this number slides in November due to all kinds of factors, including luck.
- 5×5 PDO: 103.5 (98.7)
PDO is a fascinating stat discovered by a brilliant Edmontonian while bird watching in the Yukon. His name is Brian King, and his little statistic is often overlooked for one reason or another. Gabriel Desjardins framed PDO and its effectiveness perfectly in an article from 2011, and I am going to borrow liberally from it here. Gabe’s main points:
- Shooting percentage is primarily luck-driven
- Save percentage is primarily luck-driven
All PDO does (the metric, not the guy. The guy drives around a lot) is add shooting and save percentage together, and tells you how badly the crash will be when luck comes to town (or leaves it). If you are below 100 percent PDO, chances are a market correction will improve fortunes. Well above it? Look out below.