Back on December 5, the Oilers were turning some heads thanks to a nine game run in which they recorded six victories and 13 points. That run had given them a little bit of traction in the standings; they had climbed out of sole possession of 15th (tying Calgary) and sat just five points out of the playoffs.
More than 50% of Oilers Nation voted that the Oilers would go 0.500 or better over their next 20 games. Halfway through that stretch, how have they been?
The Oilers have won just two of their last 10, going 2-5-3 over that stretch. Even if they managed to duplicate the 6-2-1 streak that generated all that optimism, they would miss the 0.500 mark for those 20 games. But why have they fallen off to this degree?
Back on December 5, I did a statistical analysis of the Oilers’ strong run, and found that they had been the beneficiaries of both strong shooting and save percentages, but that they were getting outshot by almost the exact same amount they were earlier in the year. What’s happened since then?
|Oct. 7 – Nov. 17||17||4||10||3||23.53%||2.47||4.06|
|Nov. 18 – Dec. 5||9||6||2||1||66.67%||3.11||2.33|
|Dec. 6 – Dec. 31||10||2||5||3||20.00%||2.30||2.80|
Despite the brutal winning percentage over the last 10 games, the Oilers actually look significantly better by goal differential than they did over the season’s opening stretch. Their goals-per-game have dropped from 2.47 down to 2.30, but goals against have improved dramatically, going from 4.06 to 2.80. Let’s see if the shot data reflects that improvement:
|Oct. 7 – Nov. 17||25.47||35.00||9.7||88.4|
|Nov. 18 – Dec. 5||25.56||33.89||12.17||93.11|
|Dec. 6 – Dec. 31||27.40||31.90||8.39||91.22|
Despite the Oilers’ poor record, the shot data is most encouraging. The Oilers have improved in both shots for and shots against, and are now significantly better in both areas than they were at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, they’re still getting outshot by an average of 4.5 shots per game. Last season, only two teams (30th-ranked Edmonton and 28th-ranked Florida) were outshot by more than that over the course of a full year.
Despite those improvements in shots for and against, the Oilers record is poor because the unsustainable jumps in shooting and save percentage they experienced during their nine game run have gone away. Their shooting percentage over the last 10 games has been a hair under league average, while their save percentage has been slightly above it – all in all, a rather even trade-off.
On December 5th, I wrote that I wasn’t convinced the Oilers had turned a corner, and that I wouldn’t bet on this being a 0.500 team any time soon. I’m still convinced of both points, although thankfully there is no doubt that this team is on an upward trajectory.