The Edmonton Oilers’ record in one-goal games last season was 9-10-12; put another way they won nine and lost 22 of the games they played that were decided by just one goal.
This statistic has been cited by various figures with the team at various points of last season and over the summer as a reason for optimism – after all, if the Oilers lost that many close games, it follows that if they compete a little harder in those contests they could significantly improve their record, doesn’t it?
My initial reaction was to dismiss the comment out of hand. After all, the Oilers were bad in one-goal games, bad in two-goal games, and bad in three-goal games, so there seemed no logical reason to expect the Oilers to be any better in close games than they were in blowouts.
However, as someone dedicated to checking my gut reaction with data in other areas, I thought it might be worth checking to see how other teams with a similar record in one-goal games had performed. Here’s the list of teams since the lockout to have a 0.305 record in one-goal games, as well as their overall record and their performance the following season:
|First Year||One-Goal Games||Overall||Second Year||One-Goal Games||Overall|
The Oilers’ numbers are a little different than the average. Their record in one-goal games (0.290) more closely mirrors their winning percentage in other games (0.313) than the teams we considered.
That said, it is interesting to note what happened for this small group of teams the following year. Their one-goal game winning percentage went from trailing their winning percentage in other situations to leading it the following year. Both their overall and one-goal percentages jumped sharply upward, which should at least show Oilers fans that this is a possible outcome for the team next year.
Overall, it’s a fairly encouraging exercise. The Oilers’ record in one-goal games should improve next season – almost certainly not by enough to make the playoffs, despite what some of those figures near the team have suggested, but significant improvement is possible all the same.