Improvement

One of the things I’m looking for from the Oilers this season is gradual improvement.  I wrote the team off as a playoff contender before the season began based on the roster, but that doesn’t mean I was without optimism; the Oilers have an extremely young roster and I viewed this as a development year.

Looking for improvement, I decided to go back through the scoring chance data collected by Dennis King and published at mc79hockey.com.  There’s a noticeable trend in every aspect of the Oilers game.

The following charts show what percentage of the scoring chances the Oilers have logged as a team. 50.0% means that they had as many scoring chances as their opposition; 60.0% is a dominant effort while 40.0% is an underwhelming one.  I’ve broken these down into three sections: overall, even-strength and special teams.  The black line indicates the current trend.

Encouraging signs.

The Oilers still aren’t a 0.500 team by scoring chances, but they’ve shown improvement in all areas of their game.  This is particularly remarkable given the current injuries to key veterans Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff.  I’d suggest that were those players still healthy, the scoring chance data would be even more positive, as the young players on the roster seem to be getting better every night.

There is still a long way to go, but so far this season is easily the highlight of the Tambellini dynasties. 

  • Lowetide

    With the great possibility that the 4-14 duo will be top six outscorers, the hard part of building this roster really appears to be over and this comes from a guy who isn’t exactly an optimist.

    There still a few things to be done and they are in this order:

    – find a D as good as 6-77

    – find one true faceoff winning/PK specialist pivot to flesh out your top three along with 10-89

    – find a winger for that pivot and this guy must also be a PK ace

    – fire whomever is charge of the PK

    – get a vet to help along DD in goal for when you get rid of Khabby’s contract.

  • SumOil

    The few games where we had out good winn streak going, we were out chancing the team even after some below average showing on the fenwick numbers. Considering that the two have a direct correlation, it is surprising and sort of impressive that we are still near the 50% chances mark in the last two games.

  • DSF

    I’d suggest Horcoff being out of the lineup has triggered an increase in scoring chances for Hall and Eberle and on the PP.

    You’ll note at which game point scoring chances tool a dramatic upswing.

    Saying that it would be even more pronounced if Horcoff was in the lineup is just dishonest since the data indicates exactly the opposite is true.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Hey great point! Lets look closer….

      So Horc has been out the last four games …. look a little closer to the last four games… do you see a dramatic upswing????

      Good stuff, as usual DSF.

      • DSF

        Actually, yes.

        At worst, the Oilers haven’t skipped a beat although the PP has shown a marked improvement in a small sample size.

        I’ll wager it gets even better.

        Dec 8:

        10W 12L 5OTL .463

        5V5F/A – .84

        G/G – 2.67

        GA/G – 3.41

        PP% – 14.8

        PK% – 70.3

        FO % – 45.1

        Dec 17

        12W 14L 5OTL .468

        5V5FA .83

        G/G 2.68

        GA/G 3.36

        PP% 16.4

        PK% 71.2

        FO % 45.1

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

          Want to know the teams #’s in the 7 games he’s missed??

          – 2-4-1 with Horc out of the line-up.

          – Outshot 262-157 with Horc out of the line-up

          – Outscored 29-17 with Horc out of the line-up

  • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

    Really guys, nothing after an encouraging win, so I kick my ON habit for 24 hours, and this afternoon I find there are 3 new articles, I would have rathered spent the time reading these at work yesterday while getting paid!

    Good Job on the plot diagrams JW!!

    Any errors here Wax Man!

    • Wax Man Riley

      Yes, the last line was not a topical comment and “rather” is not a verb, but an adverb so not to be used as a past participle (“ratehred” is not a word). Also, I could have used a semi-colon after the word “articles”. I am docking you points from your essay, but adding points to the “Wow, man, let it go” part of the exam.

  • Don’t share your optimism JW.

    The Oilers just came through a stretch of games against weaker Eastern teams and a couple weak Western ones.

    The games against playoff teams were Van and Tbay and they were killed on the SC metric.

    In the next 12 games (up to Jan 15th), they only have 3 games against non Western playoff teams. Those games are BUF, NYI, and CAL.

    I bet they are going to come out the other side of these 12 games with about 8 of 24 points and be less than 50% SC in at least 10 of those games.

    Being without 10 and 83 is about to hit them in the face.

    • Wax Man Riley

      It is only a matter of time, I think, before losing 10 and 83 really starts to impact the team. The rookies are stepping up really well, but I will be surprised to see them play at such a high level consistently. Those games against Van and TBay were very telling.

      I don’t share your view of 8 out of 24 points, but I think .500 is reasonable. Unfortunately I don’t see them getting +65 pts in the remaining 51 games to make the playoffs.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I would hope that we see a positive trend, especially with 3 full-time rookies in such prominent roles. Naturally, they would learn the game as the season goes along. As well, the rookies and the “vets” (such a young team, it’s tough to call too many of them vets) are learning to play with each other. This is a very different team than the one from last year and it makes sense that it would take time for players to gel, and for us to see improvement.

  • Wax Man Riley

    So we have one dominant win over a team whose goaltender was playing abysmally, and all of a sudden we are a playoff team? When did this happen? Get a hold of yourselves lads! Remember the dive for five? Crashing for Couturier, Arson for Larsson? Ring a bell?
    Yes, we are improving, just as we had surmised at season’s beginning. But good teams like Vancouver still embarrass us, as if to say, “you’re not there yet, boys.” Lets have this conversation next year at this time. Until then, sleep tight, with visions of RNH dancing in your heads.

  • @ DSF wrote:

    At worst, the Oilers haven’t skipped a beat although the PP has shown a marked improvement in a small sample size.

    Scoring chance percentages, first 27 games vs. last four games:

    Overall: 42.6 vs. 39.3

    Evens: 44.8 vs. 41.4

    Special Teams: 35.6 vs. 33.6

    In short, the Oilers scoring chance numbers have dipped in all areas in the four games since Horcoff was hurt. The overall trend has been positive, but the last four games have had put a bit of a drag on the positive trend line.

    Edit to add: Not that I read too much into that; tracking the performance of an entire team over four games to measure the impact of a single player is a ludicrous idea. Between the fact that a team is made up of 20 players and four games is a really, really short period of time (if it weren’t, Brian Boucher’d have a Vezina) only a fool would advocate a position on a single player using that data.

  • John Chambers

    This is great stuff, JW.

    If you were to remove the recent games against Vancouver and TBay from the EV stats, the Oil should be right on 50% for the recent dozen or so games up to now.

    That implies that they’re become as good a team as St. Louis, Columbus, Ottawa, or Anaheim.

    If they continue to improve, which by Rennie’s account they will because they’re coachable, we could actually see this team compete for a playoff spot.

    The next couple of games on the West Coast will give us a good indication.