Comparing 2010-11 With 2009-10

While the addition of some quality young players to the team has made Oilers games more watchable than last year, I’ve been curious to see how the team has a whole has improved from last season’s debacle. After all, the point of a rebuild is to slowly improve, and ideally we’d see this team making gradual steps forward.

One quarter through the season, how does this group compare with the 2009-10 Oilers?

The following chart shows some of the key places we might look for team-wide improvement:

Season 2009-10 2010-11
Points 62 62
GF/Game 2.51 2.48
GA/Game 3.39 3.86
SF/Game 28.3 25.5
SA/Game 33.1 35.6
PP% 17.3 13.6
PK% 78 67.5

To recap what that chart says: compared to the 2009-10 Oilers, this year’s team a) scores marginally less, b) gets scored on more frequently, c) gets fewer shots, d) sees more shots against, e) has a worse power play and f) has a worse penalty kill.

I sincerely hope that’s the most damning thing I ever say about this team, because despite my modest expectations I was disheartened when I looked up the actual data.

The special teams shift has been this club’s biggest problem. Not only are both special teams units significantly worse this season than they were last year, but the Oilers spend less time on the power play (down to 3.86 power-plays per game from 3.98 last season) and more time killing penalties (from 3.72 kills per game up to 3.95) than they did one year ago. After allowing 67 goals while short-handed, they’re currently on pace to allow 105, and after scoring 52 power play goals a year ago they’re on pace to tally just 43. That shift has hidden marginal improvements at even-strength, where the Oilers are on pace to be minus-50 after putting in a minus-52 performance one season ago.

It’s still early, and so there is still an opportunity for this team to turn things around. But to date the influx of talent and change in coaching staff hasn’t had the desired result, because if the Oilers keep up this pace it will turn out that last season wasn’t rock bottom after all.

  • Keep in mind the 09/10 team wasn’t sucking the hind banana until after we lost Khabi and Hemsky. Anyone remember winless in January? (Sorry if I opened up any repressed memories.) The 09/10 stats will get MUCH worse when this comparision is done at the 40 or 50 game mark. I’ll admit it, I am too lazy to look it up myself to prove my point.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    It might be the same next year. I don’t think Tambo really cares where we end up in statistics. It looks like he already into the next draft. Which he will repeat year after year into we are exactly like the the Black Hawks model. Then elite players from all over will want flock to Edmonton to play on the Oilers. Then We make a serious campaign to make the playoffs but then experience some other road blocks like the Sens did for a whole decade and then we go full circle right back to the beginning again when the next bargaining agreement comes to past. Tambo’s and KLowes’s (The village idiots of NHL management) master plan.

  • Ender

    I think the reason it doesn’t feel like we’re worse this year is that after the debacle that was last season, our expectations dropped so low that it’s almost impossible not to meet them. Can’t score? We expected that. Got a bantam-team defense? We expected that. Goalie’s got a back-strain from fishing the puck out of his net? We expected that.

    You’re right, JW; seeing on paper that we’re actually worse than last year is a bit of a slap. I guess the only question now is, if last year wasn’t rock bottom, how far away from it can we possibly be?

    I used to think I knew.

    • MoJo

      But unlike last year, we’re intentionally sucking. We should be taking pride in the fact that our GM said to himself “I don’t want all these hot-shot rookies upsetting my plans for another Top 2 Pick – better take out some insurance”. Hence Fraser, Foster and Vandermeer.

      The numbers say it’s working too . . .

        • Horcsky

          Artfully crafted tank job? There’s nothing artful about out of the playoffs by December. It’s more of a bludgeon a small animal to death with a large club for several minutes after cardiac arrest type of tank job IMO.

        • MoJo

          I’ll reserve my complete judgement until the team starts to improve, but if he can intentionally build a winning team just as well as building a losing team, then we’re in safe, safe hands.

  • MoJo

    I interpret the rolling of lines and miserable PK as an intentional tank job – insurance for a bottom 5 finish.

    Perhaps the Diamond PK system can work with the right personnel – but the right personnel aren’t currently on the Oilers roster

  • misfit

    Who needs progress when you’ve got high draft picks?

    Looking at the rosters, this team probably should finish worse than they did last year with Souray/Visnovsky being replaced by Whitney/Foster, Penner not having an all-star start, and 4 rookies in the lineup in full time roles. Even with Hemsky and Khabibulin in the lineup (for the most part), this team should still be expected to not perform as well.

  • If you look at the NYI as an example of a complete tear down and rebuild (which we did not do), there are more lean years to come yet. However, we have a leg up because we kept some semblance of a team from before – Horc, Hemmer, Penner are legitimate NHLers. Brule/Gilbert/Gags/Fraser/Jones/Storts are further along in development. That’s why we will do a bit better than NYI in year 2. Even this year 1 of rebuild, we will probably be better than them, because we kept some veterans.
    So this is not a complete rebuild at all, but phase 1 of a rebuild.

    • I’d argue that this team is in Season Five of the rebuild. The rebuild started the minute Kevin Lowe sent Chris Pronger away for magic beans.

      The problem is that management didn’t realize it until about the halfway point of last season.

      • DSF

        If management didn’t realize it and took steps to counteract it (trading for Visnovsky and signing Khabibulin for example), the rebuild did not start five years ago.

        In fact, other than drafting, which is a normal course of events for all teams, the rebuild hasn’t even started yet since tearing down the roster is not complete.

        I guess you could start the clock ticking when Tambellini announced two thirds of the way through last season that he was indeed the GM and started purging contracts but that job isn’t finished yet.

        Bear in mind he still believes Khabibulin is the team MVP, JFJ and other AHL quality players still populate the roster and he is still sitting on “assets” that are not suited to a long term strategy.

        Using the example of the latest “rebuilt” team, the LA Kings, Lombardi moved out every player he thought had no long term future with the team ( Visnovsky, O’Sullivan, Frolov) and started plugging holes with players who fit his window to win.

        The Oilers are still in the tear down phase because Steady still hasn’t made those decisions and acted upon them.

        While he finally chose a couple of goalies after mulling it over for a year and a half, he still has major decisions to make among the small forwards, Eberle, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule can’t all play in the top six where they are most suited and yet they’re still on the roster and the team seems determined to turn Paajarvi into a mule

        Rebuilding the defense is not underway either unless you believe Vandermeer and Strudwick are the answer. Any fool can see each and every Oiler defenseman is playing at least one level above their capability and until that is addressed by acquiring two top pairing defensemen, WYSIWYG.

        Those defensemen do not exist on the roster or likely in the system unless Marincin reaches above his projected potential and he is years away.

        Steady needs to start using his assets to acquire players who will fit a window to win and, unfortunately, his only truly valuable assets are Hemsky and Penner and Gagner if he can trick someone.

        So far, the team is nothing more than a smoking hole in the ground with a couple of nice rookies to help sell tickets.

        The rebuild begins when he starts adding the pieces the team needs long term.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          “the rebuild hasn’t even started yet since tearing down the roster is not complete.”

          I don’t think you ever see a roster that is “completely torn down”, and I’d guess the Oilers have been stripped away as far, or farther then any of the rebuilds we’ve seen recently.

      • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

        I know you’re a fan of adjusting numbers to the mean when you feel there’s an anomaly present (ie abnormally high shooting percentage, SV%, etc).

        Do you feel that the last 5 games played by the Oilers are an indication of things to come this season?

        If not, how do your 82-game season projections change if you normalize the numbers a little?

        I guess what I’m getting at is… I don’t see this season as being full of 8-2 and 5-0 losses. This past 2-week period has to skew the projections at least a little.

        • Frankly, I expect things to get better. Khabibulin’s butt-ugly PK numbers are the biggest reason this team has been so bad, and because they’re historically awful I don’t expect them to continue.

          So modest improvement is probably still a reasonable goal, particularly once the first unit PP gets things going and as the kids continue to adjust.

          But the kind of adjustemnt your suggesting is hard to do; the Oilers have lost by 5+ goals on five occasions this season, and only two of them have happened in the last five games.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            I think you’re absolutely right. What happens if you adjust Khabibulin’s PKSV% to something moderately respectable (like, .800?) for the first quarter of the season?

            Obviously that pumps up the PK numbers a little bit and pares down the GA/game.

            Something about these stats just seems a little off. I realize they’ve been losing, but by my eye they’re easily a better team than last year.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            Wait, I may have misunderstood. Are you saying that Khabby’s PKSV% is historically awful so you don’t expect him to improve, or that he’s been historically decent so you don’t expect this recent debacle to continue?

      • MoJo

        Almost shocked when I see or hear someone mention the fact this is Season Five sans playoffs. Listening to local radio and reading MSM, it seems years 1-3 in that period are being forgotten as per the corporate narrative mandated by Oilers management. That’s okay though. As someone on the message board here replied to me once, “real fans know this rebuild is the way to go” or something to that effect. When you can’t build a winner, purposely building a loser feels like a win I guess.

  • D-Man

    Let me be the FIST to say that this was a good article… A bit obvious in the sense that our special teams require a huge overall… I do think as the kids develop – we’ll see some better stats on the PP… Can’t say that our PK will get better; we don’t have the personnel yet and I don’t believe our specialists in Reddox and O’Marra would make that much of a difference..