Edmonton Oilers: This Year Vs. Last Year

Given the current predicament of the team, I thought it might be interesting to project their numbers as of today against their record from last season. This is an inherently imperfect project; after all, it’s usually winning or losing streaks that motivate me to run comparisons like this, but it’s still an interesting exercise.

 08-09 Record: 38 – 35 – 9

  •  Even Strength Goals: 156 for / 155 against: +1
  • Power Play Goals: 60 for / 8 against: +52
  • Short Handed Goals: 3 for / 75 against: -72
  • Totals (incl. EN and PS goals): 228 for / 244 against: -16
  • Shots: 2304 for / 2665 against: -361
  • Even Strength SH%: 9.2
  • Even Strength SV%: 0.921
  • Hits: 1393
  • Faceoff Percentage: 47.9%

 09-10 Projection: 36 – 41 – 5

  •  Even Strength Goals: 169 for / 169 against: Even
  • Power Play Goals: 56 for / 10 against: +46
  • Short Handed Goals: 0 for / 67 against: -67
  • Totals (incl. EN and PS goals): 231 for / 251 against: -20
  • Shots: 2066 for / 2804 against: -738
  • Even Strength SH%: 10.9
  • Even Strength SV%: 0.922
  • Hits: 1481
  • Faceoff Percentage: 47.2%


I don’t mean that title, since I don’t actually think the coaching is the problem. I’m just poking a little fun at the anti-MacTavish campaign last year, because while the coach made mistakes (handy list here, courtesy of yours truly) he was never the fool that so many denizens of the Nation took him for. The fact – and fact it is – is that the rosters assembled by Kevin Lowe and now Steve Tambellini since the 2006 Cup Run have never aspired to be better than mediocre. Regardless of the coach – enter Pat Quinn, who has missed the playoffs only twice in 17 seasons – the most important part of the equation is the players on the ice, and the Oilers’ front office has not done a good job in that department.

Looking at the projections up there, we see that Quinn’s team has scored more goals at even-strength, but unfortunately that’s off-set by allowing even more goals than last season’s squad. The story is worse than that though; the improvements in even-strength goals for are entirely attributable to the increase in shooting percentage, from 9.2 to 10.9%. If Quinn’s Oilers were firing at 9.2% (among the better conversion rates in the league last year) they’d be projected to score 143 goals – a 13 goal drop from MacTavish’s group. The fact that the team has allowed goals at a higher rate despite a nearly identical save percentage just shows that the defense has, if anything, become more porous, although some of that may be attributable to both a new system and extended slumps from players like Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov, as well as to the absence of Sheldon Souray.

Special teams, an area of concern last season and one of the chief complaints of the FMNF crowd, are running in place, with modest improvements on the PK being offset by modest declines on the power play. Again, there’s hope here: Sheldon Souray is bound to help, but coming off post-concussion syndrome he can’t be expected to do everything himself, and the lack of a big shot from the point hasn’t been the critical issue, since Lubomir Visnovsky also provides that.

That projection up there is downright gloomy; the results are poor despite increased luck in the percentages department (luck that is unlikely to continue over the whole season) but I don’t think the situation is hopeless yet. With the team ravaged by flu and with key veterans missing extended periods of time, on would expect an improvement when these players return to the lineup. So there should be improvements, but some are going to be necessary just to run in place.

No, if I had to guess, my guess would sound almost identical to my off-season predictions: this is a team with a similar roster, and it should post similar results. With some luck, they could make the playoffs; the absence of luck will mean another year outside of the picture.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    One stat you are missing. Man game lost to this point?

    Until that flu is gone I really can't make any judgement on this team. Before the flu they were playing some of the best Oiler hockey in years, then the flu comes we are playing some of the worse hockey.

    • Actaully, before the flu the Oilers were still getting outshot, but they were getting away with it because they had a totally unsustainable 15.2 SH% (almost 5% better than last year's league-best Pittsburgh Penguins).

      All that's happened is that their SH% numbers have since gone the other way, down around the 5% mark, which has them at a still-high-but-not-so-crazy 10.9% (matching last year's Penguins).

      The hot start was an illusion, as is this cold streak, but the record itself is probably about right given this team's ugly shot totals, both for and against.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        I really don't care about those stats, because they were outshot by Nashville yet they pounded them 6-1. Stats only go far, I'm going off of their play.

        You can spin stats anyway you want, but watching the game will give you more.

          • Hemmercules

            I wonder how Bulin is feeling?? He's seen more rubber than any goalie in the league so far. A goalie like him will never last being constantly under fire like that. The Oil couldn't even outshoot the Avs and they get outshot by everyone too. Where do we sit in the blocked shots department in the league??

          • Khabibulin's exceeded my expectations by putting up similar numbers to Roloson last year (not quite as good; .910 isn't .915) but he's had a ton of injuries the last few years and I agree: it's hard to see him keeping up this pace given the workload.

            Fortunately, Deslaurier's looked good so far, but a goalie injury could make things worse in a hurry.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            At this rate by the time we are healthy as a team Bulin will be fatigued.

            It is nice to see that JDD is playing well when given the chance.

  • @Ogden Brother Jr.

    Also, if you're going to make that decision based on one game, did you know that Brian Boucher (the greatest goaltender in the modern history of the game) once posted five consecutive shutouts? In Phoenix?

    Weird stuff happens over single games, and over ten-game stretches. Over the course of a season, it doesn't last.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I haven't made any judgements on the team other then they looked better when healthy. And anyways 25 games is where I usually like to give an honest opinion of the team.

  • Hemmercules

    Bottom line is the Oilers need to get healty. However, I am not sure that even that will help this situation.

    I have a few questions:
    1) Is Storts actually playing that well that he deserves so much ice time?
    2) WTF is Nilson doing on the PP?
    3) Would it be a logical decision for the Oil to place Horc on waivers like so many people want?
    4) When is my favorite team actually going to be PO bound again? I don't think it will be this season. Frustrating to say the least.
    5) Should Tambs start making calls?

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I wonder if storts is getting all the extra time because he works hard. There is no real reason outside of the big body presence on the PP that he should be ther.

      Horc of waivers isn't happening.

      PO bound this year or next.

      Tambs is making the calls. No proof to this, but I would assume he is at least talking about different scenarios with different teams.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    @ Jonothan Willis

    "All that's happened is that their SH% numbers have since gone the other way, down around the 5% mark, which has them at a still-high-but-not-so-crazy 10.9% (matching last year's Penguins)."

    Well, that's not ALL thats happened. You can't deny that having Souray out all this time, a bunch of guys sick and now Horcoff out isn't part of the reason for the bad streak. But I do agree with pretty much the rest of what you said. I had low expectations going into this year and I still do. We can make 50 coaching changes, or we can focus on the real problem which is in the head office.

  • @ 5Cups

    1. Who gets Stortini's minutes if they're cut? To borrow from Armageddon: 'that's not a choice it's a lack of options'.

    2. Nilsson was very good on the power play last year (it was the only thing he was good at consistently). I can understand giving him some rope there.

    3. Horcoff on waivers makes no sense whatsoever. The team can't win faceoffs, kill penalties, or find it's rear end with both hands in it's own zone, and cutting Horcoff doesn't help those problems in the slightest.

    4. Maybe this year. Maybe next year. They're a bubble team.

    5. Tambellini should have been making calls in the summer, and not to people like Chris Neil, but rather to people like Rob Niedermayer and Sami Pahlsson. Maybe he did but had no luck, but there are obvious problems in the roster that the team did not move to fix in the off-season.

  • penner is really screwing up a good argument. this young core is in free fall regression and he claims that you can make a mistake and not be nailed to the pine, ergo he is playing bonerific and these kids are panic stricken.
    what the hell is up with that?

  • Ender

    Excellent article on the whole. I will pick at one minor corner of it, however; while I freely admit that I have not yet looked up the stat, that short-handed goals number looks very wrong for both years. Giving up 75 short-handed goals in a season? That's almost one a game; that can't be right.

  • misfit

    This team is having some tough luck with injuries and the flu, but it's not as if last year's squad was a healthy 23 men all year.

    Pisani – missed 44 games
    Visnovsky – missed 32 games
    Smid – missed 22 games

    It's pretty close to the equivalent of Souray, Pisani, and Staios' time out of the lineup this year, so it's not as if this year's injuries sway the comparison that much.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    What's shocking to me about the shorthanded totals is that – if it does include 4-on-4 play – that the Oilers only scored 3 SH goals last year. Maybe I wasn't paying attention, but that's the number that doesn't really sit right with me.

  • Chaz

    The scary thing for me is that in recent games, our level of compete has dropped down to last years level or perhaps even worse. If these guys don't start playing with some desperation and some purpose, then there's no way this is a PO team. Very hard to cheer for the type of effort I saw last night.

    And not to gripe too much, but Moreau's penalty last night should have had him benched for the rest of the game. The fact he was back on the ice late in the game sends a terrible message to the rest of the team IMO. I like Ethan, but he is not good enough to be an NHLer, let alone a Captain. Again, IMO….

    Considering our payroll, we may have one of the weakest lineups in the league, injuries or not. Where's my large paper bag…

      • Chaz

        I would agree if we were talking about a give-away or a missed assignment on D, but taking a blatant penalty like that 200 feet from your own end, just as your team is trying to build some momentum while the game was still within reach?

        I'm not sure if he was being overly agressive, or if he just didn't have control at the time, but either way it pretty much ended our push to get back in the game. As far as I'm concerned he should have been stapled to the bench after that.

      • I agree, but there's a difference between making one mistake and being sent out to correct it, and making the same crappy play pretty much every game.
        And there's also a difference between giving the puck away in the offensive zone because you passed when you should have shot, that's correctable, as compared to taking an ill-timed, nonsensical penalty 60 feet from your own zone in the last 10 minutes. I guess that's correctable too to an extent, but to me it's like apples and oranges.

        Either way I'd still prefer the method Quinn is using now as opposed to everyone being afraid to make the slightest mistake because they know they'll be benched.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            I don't know…

            Even if Quinn gave him a clean slate to start the year, there's been plenty of last year's Moreau to go around in the first few games of this year.

          • Librarian Mike

            In my mind, Moreau's run as captain is kind of like Buchberger's. He's a heart and soul guy who could play pretty well (Moreau was certainly better than Bucky though), but the fact is he's just not that good anymore. A captain shouldn't be a liability on the ice.

            I'm sure he's a great guy, but he's starting to look like a role on this team has passed him by.

          • And I don't think he is judging him on past play. But I think 16 games, in which 14 of them he took a bad penalty, is enough of a sample to realize that it's a habit, and not just an occasional brain cramp.

          • Librarian Mike

            These stereotypes take on a life form of their own.

            Moreau has 15 PIM this year, take out the five for "fighting" Iggy and he's got 5 minors in 16 games. How many of them are "bad" I bet not 5 (I also bet theirs 1-2 coincidental minors in there)

            Moreau bad penalty = Horcoff's wiffs

            Something that happen more then average, but so far blown out of proportion that it loses all relavance.

          • Well clearly I never said I didn't come into this season with preconceived opinions on all the players.
            And I guess if you really step back and take a look, Moreau hasn't been that terrible on a whole. Like you said all these losses and horrible efforts magnify things pretty far out of proportion.
            Maybe it just comes down to a matter of bad timing. Not only are the Oilers losing, but they are getting outplayed, and Moreau takes a penalty at the exact wrong moment making it look worse than it probably is.

            I think most of us are just frustrated. Moreau is a guy that we've seen can bang and crash, chip in a few points and help set the tempo of the game, but for the last few seasons he's been on a downward slide. And with this team playing as badly as they are a lot of fans are looking for someone to step up and help turn things around. And if your captain is one of the worst offenders for playing constantly mediocre hockey, we the fans are not going to be happy seeing him continue to get a pass.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Smid wasn't playing as well last year as he is this year, and scaling up Souray's GP to games missed demolishes Visnovksy's total last year (this goes for Pisani as compared to himself last year and Staios as compared to himself last year, too). That still leaves the whole issue of man games missed to flu unaddressed.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    If khubby is so good our D-men should move up and cover the half boards to keep the puck in their end and lets see more shots who cares if we get one on ones we have a wall! right

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Anyone else having issues with Patty O on the point for the powerplay? He doesn't exactly have a booming shot and he's not exactly the best at holding the blue line under pressure from the PK forwards. With his quick release I think he'd be better suited one-timing passes from Hemmer down low.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I'd like to note that #2 from your FMNF blog was duplicated by Quinn.

    (side note, Pardy also played LW for a game for the Flames last year under similar circumstances…. ie it's something NHL coaches will do.)

  • misfit

    I don't think it's wise to assume that just because someone uses stats to get the point across that they don't also watch the games.

    As for the "You can spin stats anyway you want, but watching the game will give you more." comment, that's only true if the person actually knows what they're watching.

    • thats the entire.. I played the game and my opinions more worthy argument personified. In the end it comes down to a dick measurement but its part of the culture of the "real" fan, the "poser" etc. etc. etc. Call it what you will but its embedded in the canadian culture and it wont be going away any time soon.
      If it was easy to objectively watch a hockey game and project useful analysis then the gaffs that are a scouting departments record would be less common rather than commonplace.

      my 2c

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Your right Jonathan, there where obvious holes on this team last year and Tambo has done nothing to address them, so now they still remain this year. Its seems all the Oilers management does is make excuses! So if the Oilers fail to make the playoffs yet again this year is it time to get rid of Tambo?

    Kevin Lowe made some brutal trades and signings (Horcoff, Pisani), but he also made so great deals to! What has Tambo done? Signed Comrie! Good job FTNF!

  • Jmask5

    I spent many hours last year arguing with fellow fans on different message boards about the fact that this wasn't Mact's fault and that the team needed to be fixed big time. I just got called a Kool aid drinker but it seems I was right all along.

  • Willis, I need assistance with something I can't figure out on my own.

    I'm no Horcoff hater, nor am I good at The Stats.

    But what I'd like to know as a "fun stat" is this:

    Since the lockout, what's the Oil's record with and without certain players in the lineup, specifically the oft-injured, but otherwise roster-secure ones such as Moreau, Horcoff, Souray, Pisani and possibly Hemsky for the sake of analysis (not sure if he's missed as many games as the others).

    Seems to me, there's no sense in arguing who scores, who wins faceoffs, who fights, who takes late penalties. Ultimately, only wins matter. So all I want to know as a fan is, when they're gone – who does the team actually/b> miss?

  • 1st time poster, be nice……

    For those of you about to jump off the band wagon, I heard Calgary got a team, just be careful, that same band wagon might run you & your new Calgary buddies over once the flu & injuries clear up. If any of you out there ever had a physical job, you might have an inkling of what might be causing all the Oilers "effort" related problems & "brain cramps" right now! Regardless of how much elite athlete's they are supposed to be!

  • Tooles

    You know, I'm sensing a spectacular comeback à la a few years back when we went on a tear down the stretch. I think Quinn has a little too much pride to let the team continue to let loose pucks float around until the bad guys pick 'em up to score with. It might not be five games from now, or even ten, but I think there's a boisterous spirit we haven't seen lurking just beyond the horizon.