FINDING THE SECOND SEASON

I picked the Oilers to make the post-season in yesterday’s Crystal Ball item, and have had a few emails and dm’s asking about my reasoning. I have three main reasons–after the break.

DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH

Just like this baby turtle, the young Oilers–including three #1 overalls–are getting bigger and stronger all the time. Taylor Hall was pushing the river right out of the wrapping, and the other two are coming along as well. Here’s what an impact player looks like, by age:

  • Taylor Hall 5×5/60 at age 19: 1.78
  • Taylor Hall 5×5/60 at age 20: 2.07
  • Taylor Hall 5×5/60 at age 21: 3.15 (6th in entire NHL)

Also, Hall’s shot differential was in the black, one of three forwards (Ebs, Nuge) who could boast a positive CorsiOn from one year ago. I’m betting Hall

  • plays more this season, more 5×5 and 5×4
  • posts a strong offensive season (70, 37-45)

I think that’s reasonable.

BETTER BLUE TO SHOULDER THE LOAD

I try not to confuse the issue with too many advanced stats, in my opinion most of the stuff we talk about can be seen with the human eye. Like Larry King–who didn’t research to prep for interviews–you don’t have to dig deep into advanced stats in order to know that one of these things doesn’t belong:

Ryan Whitney–still out of work–was facing soft parade opps with reasonable help and getting crushed. Of the 210 NHL defensemen who played 20 or more games last season, Whitney ranked #208 overall (ahead of Buffalo’s Mike Weber and Toronto’s Korbinian Holzer) in Corsi On.

Craig MacTavish replaced Whitney (and Fistric) with Andrew Ference, Phil Larsen, Anton Belov, Denis Grebeshkov and possibly Oscar Klefbom.

Seems like an obvious upgrade. Right? No disrespect to Whitney–healthy, he’d be well clear of pretty much everyone on the list. However, there were issues, and those issues impacted the defensive sorties of the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13.

Reasonable to suggest that the team will improve in this area in 2013-14.

SYSTEMS

This is really good stuff, but you have to be better than Larry King to get it (I’m trying!). Tyler Dellow’s Big Oilers Data series is an ongoing look at what the hell happened last season, a year in which the Oilers shot differential went south in a big way compared to their own past.

Tyler focused on the 2line, specifically Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, and their very bad time of it. The 12th article is here, I highly recommend reading all of them. The line below relates specifically to what happened with 89-83 after an OFFENSIVE ZONE FACEOFF WIN!

  • The weird thing is that Hemsky and Gagner completely went in the toilet this year following OZ wins. Gagner went from a 65.7% Corsi% to a 55.2% Corsi%. Hemsky fell from 66.7% to 54.5%.

I’ve spoken to Tyler several times on this point, and he’s been narrowing it down to a ‘systems’ glitch that seems to surround a coaching decision about what to do after an offensive zone faceoff win. Krueger’s system(s) seemed to result in possession, but with all three forwards in a very confined area–with very few options.

Fascinating stuff. And if Tyler’s right–this was a Krueger creation–then returning to a more traditional NHL scheme (which seems likely) should provide an offensive uptick for that 2line (which should have an added offensive element in David Perron).

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Part of the improvement will be the kids growing up, part of it will be improved quality and depth on the blueline, and part of it will be strategy improved.

Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?

Yes. I believe so.

  • Impartial Oilers Fan

    Why does no one bring up Taylor Halls UNSUSTAINABLE 94.3% IPP when talking about his PTS/G and how he did so well last year?? For a reference point, Hall had a 75.6% the year previously. The best superstars in the league are around 80-85% on a consistent year to year basis, and yet Taylor Hall projections are being based on a lot of “lucky” points that he received. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a tremendous player, but come on please, use a little perspective!!

    (Individual Points Percentage – The percentage of goals scored by players team while player is on the ice that the player had a point on.

  • Randaman

    Trust DSF to dominate and ruin a pretty good article. Only one point to make; I wonder if Seguin would have such good numbers if he was on any other team besides the Bruins? I thought not

  • DSF

    DSF is approaching the analysis from the correct angle – when you consider who the oil have to beat to even get a wildcard – especially considering what most of them have done to improve their teams/address weaknesses and comparing them to MacT’s, the oil are going to have to have a lot of things to their way to make the playoffs.

    The weakness at centre remains unaddressed (amazing)
    A still sketchy starting goalie has even more sketchy backup and a full 84 game season to deal with. (And Dubnyks pads will be about 3 inches shorter each this year)
    The Defense has gone from abysmal to just poor.

    Throw in a few injuries – and you know that every team sees hitting the oil as the key to victory – and the oil could be out of contention by New Years.

    The oil more than any other team has ifs – rookies from upper management on down abound:

    If Eakins can whip them into shape and run a dynamic and ever changing tactical game and

    Dubnyk can prove both capable of making the big save (to hell with sv pctg) and durable and

    The shultzes and the other d have career seasons and

    The young guns stay healthy (and hall finds some scoring touch and adds some nuance to his game) and

    MacT deals hemsky (and gagner) to get the 2c player this team needs

    Then they make the playoffs.

    But if just any one of these five things doesn’t happen – they are out of the playoffs yet again.

    AND if they fail yet again to make the playoffs – what is the fate of Kevin Lowe?