WWYDW: Scoring Woes

Jonathan Willis
January 11 2017 09:53PM

14-Eberle-7

Over the last 10 games, Patrick Maroon has scored seven even-strength goals, which is a fantastic total. The remainder of the Edmonton Oilers roster has scored just 10, which is a much less impressive number. Nix the goals that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl tallied, as well as that of injured forward Tyler Pitlick, and Maroon has as many even-strength goals in that span as every healthy bottom-nine forward on the team put together.

In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we ask what our readers would do to address the problem.

The good news is that the power play has done a lot to cover for the offensive outage elsewhere, which has bought Todd McLellan and his staff some time to figure out how to restart a sputtering attack. The figures before and after December 1 bear some attention:

  • Before Dec. 1: 32.3 shots/hour, 8.2 shooting percentage, 2.65 goals/hour
  • Since Dec. 1: 29.9 shots/hour, 7.2 shooting percentage, 2.17 goals/hour

Shooting percentage is part of the problem, though it’s hardly catastrophic. Edmonton is presently just above the league average by 5-on-5 shooting percentage, and even a 7.2 percent number would rank them 20th in the NHL. In other words, there’s not too much to see here.

The shot drop-off is a little more interesting. 32 shots per hour would be the fifth-best total in the league, and suggest a high-end offensive team. 30 shots per hour is much closer to league-average, and if that’s what the Oilers do the rest of the way it probably means they’re only an average offensive team.

Let’s boil this down to the individual level, though.

Edmonton’s Forwards

19-Maroon-4

Player Since Dec. 1 GP w/o EV goal GP w/o EV point
Patrick Maroon 19 GP, 11 PTS 1 1
Leon Draisaitl 19 GP, 10 PTS 1 1
Connor McDavid 19 GP, 9 PTS 7 1
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 19 GP, 7 PTS 3 0
Mark Letestu 18 GP, 6 PTS 8 2
Zack Kassian 19 GP, 6 PTS 34 0
Anton Lander 4GP, 1 PTS 1 1
Benoit Pouliot 17 GP, 4 PTS 13 0
Jordan Eberle 19 GP, 4 PTS 22 4
Milan Lucic 19 GP, 3 PTS 15 0
Drake Caggiula 19 GP, 3 PTS 0 0
Matt Hendricks 13 GP, 2 PTS 7 7
Jesse Puljujarvi 8 GP, 1 PTS 28 6

The chart above is ranked by even-strength points/game. It shows games and even-strength points since December 1, and also games without an even-strength goal or point. It isn’t hard to find the laggards.

At the top of the chart is the Oilers’ current first line. Connor McDavid is in a bit of a shooting percentage funk, but otherwise these three are doing just fine. After them, we should also give Ryan Nugent-Hopkins a bit of credit.

Then come the role players. Zack Kassian is in an epic goal-scoring drought, but he’s still picking up points, and it’s hard to fault either Mark Letestu or Anton Lander for their scoring over the last month and a bit.

27-Lucic-3

Then we get to the problems:

  • Benoit Pouliot has taken a lot of heat for his performance this season, and rightly so. He’s scored at a 19-point full season pace since December 1 and that’s not nearly good enough.
  • Jordan Eberle is also a popular target. Not only has he been less productive by points/game than Pouliot, but he’s done it with a lot more ice-time, including primo minutes with McDavid.
  • One doesn’t hear a whole lot about Milan Lucic’s struggles because until lately the power play has helped cover them up. He has history as a high-end 5-on-5 scorer, though, and this simply cannot be the new normal for him if Edmonton is to be a competitive team. Since December 1, his scoring pace works out to 13 even-strength points over an 82-game season.
  • Rookie forward Drake Caggiula had five points in his first 10 games but has just two in the 15 contests since, even with the help of power play minutes. He’s been given a top-nine forward spot basically by default but he hasn’t done much to lock it down.
  • Matt Hendricks, even at his best, didn’t score much. He’s now 35; very few role players last that long.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi, freshly dispatched to the minors, burnt a year of his entry-level deal and restricted free agency without scoring an even-strength goal.

That’s a snapshot of the recent scoring problems at both a team and individual level. This week’s question: If you had the power what would you, the reader, do about it?

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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.
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#51 SSB1963
January 12 2017, 02:43PM
Trash it!
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Jaxon wrote:

I like TMac's most recent line combos and would keep them for a few games to see if they start to click. They are a slight variation from recent games where the forward lines have dominated but not scored. I think they are on the right track. Adding a scoring RW like a Vanek at the deadline might be a good idea, or maybe a C like Hanzal if they want to keep Draisaitl on the wing.

Maroon / McDavid / Draisaitl
Pouliot / Nugent-Hopkins / Eberle
Lucic / Caggiula / Slepyshev
Hendricks / Letestu / Kassian (it's getting close to time for Hendricks to be moved aside for Khaira)

I would put Kassian with RNH and Eberle and move Pouliot down.

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#52 Delirious
January 12 2017, 05:05PM
Trash it!
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@MGD

The main problem with the ebs Mcdavid and lucic line was lucic. He cant grab a puck off the boards or when one of the other two would hit him with a pass he'd bobble it and lose it. Thus, making ebs and Mcdavid have to play more defensively because they were basically down a guy. Lucic has his advantages but they just arent suited for a line like that. More of a 2nd or 3rd line player.

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