“SHOOOOOOOOOOOOT!” Everybody who’s watched an Oilers power play has said it one time or another in reference to whoever is manning the
point. The crowd gets frustrated when yet another prime opportunity to fire the
biscuit towards the net is missed to make a pass to somebody on the sidewall
and 16,000 people simultaneously suffer Hockey Tourettes. Maybe up in the
nosebleeds or in the comfort of your living room, “Shoot” is preceded by some
colourful gerunds, but at the end of the day you still told the PP to shoot the
Then you jumped on Twitter or in the comment section of your
favourite Oilers blog and somebody already made a comment about those “mouth breathers” telling NHL players to shoot the puck. You screamed at your
TV because Justin Schultz opted to feather one to the corner instead of
taking a one-timer. That’s YOU this person is trying to silence.
Do they have a point? Sure. Not all shots are created equal
and if there’s somebody directly in the shooting lane then there’s a small but
still real chance that a blocked puck could bounce the other direction for a
shorthanded chance against.
The chances that the puck hits the penalty killer and
bounces directly back towards the shooter are pretty low. It ends up in
the netting or the corner significantly more than it bounces back and gives the blocker a head start the other way.
I understand the perspective of the people who hate when the
fans yell “Shooooot” on the PP, though. It’s not as if playing the game is easy
and anyone could do it. It’s certainly much harder to than it looks from the
couch or the stands.
However, there really is a problem with Edmonton’s shot
production from the blueline. They simply don’t generate enough shots from the
point. Here’s a comparison of the shot rates of defensemen who have played at
least 50 minutes on the power play for the Oilers vs those of the top three ranked power plays in the NHL.
Justin Schultz is Edmonton’s number one point option on the power play. He is the guy. The problem is that he’s shooting the puck at a rate
that is significantly lower than the average for effective 5v4 power plays. Sixty-six defensemen have played at least 100 minutes on the 5v4 this season. Justin Schultz ranks 56th among them in Shots/60. That’s less than stellar.
There are players in the chart above who are shooting less frequently than him, but every
one of those top ranked teams (Detroit, Washington, Tampa Bay) has at least one
guy who is really hammering it. And they are not necessarily doing the same
things at even strength. For example, Niskanen goes from luke warm shot rates at even strength to a Gatling gun on the man-advantage.
The Oilers need somebody taking shots from the point again.
I’m happy with it being anybody, I’m not picky. It can even be Justin Schultz!
The last time the Oilers’ PP was respectable was the lockout shortened
2012-2013 season. The Oil finished 8th in league Power play
efficiency and, as percentage driven as it was, Justin Schultz was generating
11.21 shots per 60 on the Power Play. He was shooting like the point man in some of those top teams from this year. Actually, in 2012-2013 Schultz was ranked 18th in the NHL for shots per 60 with a minimum of 100 minutes played. The future looked bright but he’s since regressed quite a bit.
Somewhere in him there’s the ability to be more than just a
puck distributor. He needs to find it again or the team needs to find another
option. One solution might simply be giving Nail Yakupov a bigger role. He is
currently on the second unit but he is taking 12.58 shots per 60 and
many from between the point and the high slot.
Yakupov currently ranks 10th on the Oilers in PP
TOI/G while Justin Schultz ranks first. Since we’re not getting much
in the way of offense from Schultz and certainly not much in the way of defense
either, perhaps it’s time to re-order who gets the most ice-time.
That’s not to say that Schultz shouldn’t be on the PP. But having another player from his position on the Power Play who acts entirely different with
regards to shooting should keep the penalty killers on their toes and make them
respect that location of the ice.
At any rate, the next time you see somebody chastise the
fans for getting on the point man for passing up an opportunity to shoot,
remember that the better teams in the league really are shooting it more often.
They really are creating and taking advantage of more open shooting lanes. The
Oilers probably should have taken that damned shot.