Oilers Power Play By The Numbers

Just the facts

The Oilers are a team much improved by number in their 5v5 play. They are still the Oilers though and that means mind boggling blunder after mind boggling blunder, but they are getting better at keeping shots and shot attempts even at least. But what about that Power Play? It is ranked near the bottom of the league despite being loaded with about 17 1st Overall picks and more than enough fire power to take down an Elephant. OilersNation does not approve hunting Elephants. We only hunt the Most Dangerous Game.

JUST THE FACTS

The Oilers at the time of writing this piece are ranked 26th in the NHL for Power Play efficiency. They are running at an unsightly 12.5% so far this year. That’s not bad. That’s a level below bad somewhere between “Ryan Whitney turning left” and “Gigli starring Ben Affleck”. For a quick lesson on how to lose lots of close games you should skim over the section in your Exciting Last Placed Hockey manual on not scoring on almost 88% of your Power Plays.

But we live in a Golden Age of information which can tell us a lot more about the PP than its basic efficiency. It’s still early enough in the season that all of these numbers can take drastic swings one way or the other, mind you. One hot week on the PP and the Oil can climb quite a bit. Perhaps that’s exactly why it’s important to look at more than just the efficiency. 

In any case, I will be presenting this year’s numbers along side the final numbers under Eakins’ 1st season and the lockout shortened year under Ralph Krueger. I want to do so mainly because with the same core group this team has gone from 3rd in the West down to 3rd last in the entire NHL. It’s been an interesting, if not terrifying, journey. The Efficiency number includes all Power Play states but I am isolating the rest of the numbers to 5v4 only. 

Season

Efficiency

CF/60

FF/60

SF/60

SF%

Sh%

PDO

2012-2013

20.1% (8th)

73.9 (29th)

55.0 (30th)

41.5 (30th)

83.5 (25th)

16.86 (2nd)

113.9 (4th)

2013-2014

17.0% (21st)

85.6 (24th)

63.3 (26th)

46.6 (25th)

82.1 (27th)

12.28 (16th)

97.2 (27th)

2014-2015

12.5% (26th)

93.6 (15th)

69.5 (17th)

46.2 (24th)

85.6 (9th)

8.41 (26th)

80.6 (30th)

SO WHAT?

I think those numbers present a lot to think about. First and foremost, the Krueger Power Play was driven by a wonderful Shooting Percentage. The problem with that is nobody outside of witches like Steven Stamkos and Craig Simpson in his prime have been able to crack the Shooting Percentage Code (a story by Dan Brown that will sweep the Hockey Nation). We can see that the man advantage obviously leads to better scoring chances and therefore higher shooting percentages but maintaining regularly high percentages is hard even for veteran teams with a track record of success on the PP.

For example, the San Jose Sharks with Joe Thornton and all the skilled shooters they have run a good Power Play and have for several years. They are still relatively inconsistent when it comes to shooting percentage. Starting with this year and moving backwards they have had 14.06%, 9.69%, 11.02%, and 11.61%. The real stability they have shown has been in producing unblocked shot attempts, not the rate at which they score on shots.

That metric, FF/60, is the one in which the Oilers have made the most progress over time. No, it hasn’t turned into remarkably better shot rates and that’s a topic I would love to pick Ramsay or Eakins’ brain about but the fact is that Edmonton is getting looks at a rate that was unprecedented in the Krueger era. Now maybe those shot attempts are coming from the perimeter too often or maybe they’re being shot wide too often, but either way it seems the Oil are spending more time trying to create than they were previously.

PDO for the Power Play is a bit of a contentious issue for some because the game is not even and a few shorthanded goals against can really submarine the number, but it really shouldn’t be different in theory than other game states aside from the fact we expect the number to regress to a higher position than 100. For the past 5 years the median in the NHL during 5v4 play falls pretty close to 103 give or take the odd fluctuation. Edmonton’s number this season is so bad that the next closest in the NHL is 94.4. That’s a little more than 14% higher. In fact only 1 team in the Advanced Stat era has finished with less than 90% 5v4 PDO and that was Nashville in the Lockout shortened year.

Edmonton’s current 80.6 PDO on the 5v4 is bad on a historic level. 

When I see all of that I think that there’s a very good chance that this team will get a lot better at some point during the year, if they keep playing this way. Either a few shots that were missing the net early in the season will find their target or some seeing eye pucks just manage to find their way in, but this is a Power Play that should start getting better results over time.

JUST LEAVE IT ALONE?

LeaveItAlone

No, I’m not saying the Oilers shouldn’t be tweaking things and that the PP is fine the way it is. Obviously there are things that good teams do to be successful on the man-advantage. I still think this team is woeful at winning puck battles and using the numbers to their advantage. There’s no reason why the puck should go into the corner and an Oiler is alone there to fight off two defenders. 

I also don’t like how static some of the players can be, maybe as a result of getting into their position in the 1-3-1 prematurely. While we’re at it I think too many shots are coming from the forwards while Justin Schultz is just passing the puck and not being a shooting threat. Those are just a few of my complaints. 

Still, though, the underlying numbers are showing a team that is getting better. Not everybody buys that because there really isn’t an excuse on a team that boasts RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, and the great Justin Schultz to be at the bottom of the NHL in PP efficiency. Their sh% is low but their other metrics are climbing. It should turn around, provided someone lifts this curse.

    • Spydyr

      That is what the Captain was getting at.Most of us would give our left nut to play one shift in the NHL.The prima donnas on the Oilers think it is their right to be in the NHL and have no fear of even getting benched.No accountability for certain players

  • Chainsawz

    These are some observations of the oilers management correct me if I’m wrong. Eakins and Mac T have regressed this team over the last two seasons. From the first year of Taylor Hall, and the so called rebuild, to the last year Tambellini was in charge they managed to win 37% of the games. This includes the 25 game low in Halls rookie year. After that it was average of around 40%. This year they are running at 24% over 25 games. The next 5 games don’t look good and even if they pull out 3 wins they are only sitting at 30%. Eakins and the boys have to win 47% of the rest of the season against the west just to achieve 34% which is still worse than the old crews record. So pretty much even in a miracle situation Mac T’s vision is going worse.

  • Andy7190

    Empty seats talk…….everything else will yield no results!

    Katz is probably on a yacht somewhere far from the cold and does not read any Edmonton newspapers or blogs.

    It was great to see empty seats and this speaks louder than anything……eventually the tone deaf people at the top of the Oilers food chain will get embarrassed.

    Then again maybe not.

  • Joe Mamma

    Stats still aren’t getting to the core of the issue. Come on this journey with me! The issue is the Oilers for the past decade have turned into the Blockbuster Video of hockey. Does everyone remember Blockbuster?? Wandering the aisles with your pimples date for hours; trying to find a good DVD both of you will agree on; like Scary Movie 2!!! Epic!!!

    What I’m trying to say is; Lowe is lame, MacT is lame, Eakins is lame and hate to say naming Ference captain was lame. I’m an oldy and lame. (Is the word lame even cool anymore?) My idea of a good time back in my day was a gravel pit party, OE, burning tires, and some rowdy fights. Those days are gone, the days of Gretzky are gone. I don’t even know how to use hashtags #whatthehellamIdoing #thisislame

    These young guys need people that can relate!! They need cooler jerseys that say; hey we’re not in the 80’s anymore. Hockey has modernized and evolved. Not the same ten-twenty years ago. Hall should’ve been captain; it only made logical sense, and needed a ‘cool’ relatable coach. My husband is cool; older people can be cool…me not so much. I don’t even drink anymore. Lame, although watching the Oilers makes me crave OE. (Just in-case for the youngsters that’s cheap OLD ENGLISH and it’s awful!!!)

    So when you think of Oilers think of Blockbuster Video; because memory lane is where they seem to be.

    • Zamboni Driver

      They need cooler jerseys that say; hey we’re not in the 80’s anymore.

      This.

      Oh good lord yes, this. The clown outfits from the 80s were horrid then, are horrid now.

      The ACTUAL copper and blue unis were great.

      Also the trick at Blockbuster was to find a flick that had nudity in it without your girlfriend suspecting.

      …and she married me anyway.

  • Zamboni Driver

    I’ve been on the Oilers bandwagon since I was a little kid, and I have a signed Jari Kurri poster from when I was 4, and I’m just as fed up with the team as almost everyone else. That said, I don’t know how people can’t see Matt’s post for what it is – a reasoned, well-written analysis of what the numbers are telling us.

    But even I recognize that there’s more to the story than inept management (which we do have in spades and which needs to be corrected). There is no good reason for all of these skilled players (Nikitin notwithstanding) to be playing so badly, but there it is.

    At some point, puck are going to start going in the net, and maybe also staying out of ours. And that has less to do with coaching and management than it does dumb luck. And man, do we need some.

  • charlie manson

    Who cares about stats…. Just win,get points,keep it simple,drive to the net…. When I Google who won the Stanley Cup in recent years, theirs no stats,no corsi, no PP %….. Just win,play with passion, heart,try alittle.

  • Zarny

    Yes, the PP is a dumpster fire.

    Here is the thing though. The Oilers have 10 ppg in 80 opportunities (12.5%). An additional 9 ppg would vault the Oilers all the way to 4th in the league @ 23.75 %.

    The Oilers aren’t 9 goals away from being a good team. Their overall goal differential is -31. -22 would still be 28th in the league. Their problems run much deeper than the PP.