Shot In The Foot

Edmonton has a problem with its power play, and his name is
Justin.

The Oilers power play isn’t bad. It’s very average, in fact.
The Oilers sit at 16th place in PP efficiency at 18.7%. The thing is, the power play really shouldn’t be average. A team with this many high end pieces doesn’t
have to settle for that. Any club that has Yakupov, Pouliot, and McDavid
injured but can still trot out Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Draisaitl
should be crushing it on the man-advantage.

We’ve long talked about Justin Schultz’ limitations as a
player. We know he struggles to shoot from the point. We know he isn’t
assertive in the defensive zone. We also know that when he’s on his game he
should be able to join the attack and disrupt defensive coverages.

Now the power play should be his jam. There’s very limited
offensive chances generated against which means his noted defensive liabilities
have less impact than in any other game state. The fact that there are only four penalty killers on the ice makes his ability to join into the play easier and
also more impactful.

Unfortunately, the facts are plain. Justin Schultz is
unquestionably the worst of the main options the Oilers have to play the point
on the power play.

I always like to look at shots and shot attempts on the PP
because we know it’s very important. The last three coaches have all said essentially
the same thing: shoot often and shoot quickly. Eakins used the word Corsi, McLellan
uses shot attempt – they are indeed the same thing. As a reminder of some things
he’s said here’s McLellan on shot volume:

Volume shooting, I don’t know what that does to Corsi or
Fenwick because I don’t even know what those things are, but volume shooting is
important. I think it breaks down defensive zone coverages, gets players out of
position, taxes the opposition, makes them play more minutes in their zone.

So back to the defenders manning the point on Edmonton’s power play. The team has run three d-men on the 5v4 man-advantage regularly:
Justin Schultz, Andrej Sekera, and Oscar Klefbom. Here are their individual
shot and shot attempt contributions.

individual

There is an alarmingly low number of shots being generated
by Justin Schultz on the power play. The interesting part is that while he’s
attempting almost 27 shots per 60 minutes on the 5v4, more than half are being
blocked outright. We can see that in his iFenwick/60 which sits at a very poor
12.62/60 minutes. Then out of those unblocked shot attempts only half are
actually hitting the net. You can see the conversion rate of unblocked attempts
to actual shots for the other two players is significantly higher. Roughly 66%
of their unblocked attempts are making it through compared to Schultz’ 50%.

Andrej Sekera is attempting more shots and getting more of
them through than any other Oiler defender in the position to play big PP
minutes. Oscar Klefbom is much choosier about his attempts but he is getting a
much higher percentage through the defenders and onto net.

Their individual contributions aside, what’s more important
is how the PP unit actually performs as a whole. This is why it’s important to
look at the on-ice shot attempt information when those three players are
deployed. That’s what the next table does.

on-ice

I should begin by saying that the spread here is quite
alarming. It is especially so because we know that Schultz plays predominantly
with the top unit and when he’s on the ice the 5v4 PP is generating shots at
roughly the same pace as the worst power plays in the NHL. The Oilers’ power play
is basically comparable to the Calgary Flames’ (who are rotten) if Justin
Schultz is the defenseman manning the point.

Somehow, when Schultz is out there the Oilers are also
allowing almost twice as many shots against compared to what Klefbom and Sekera
are allowing. I’m almost impressed.

The problem really alleviates itself when the team puts
Klefbom or Sekera back there. In general, with Sekera out there the Oilers have
been generating shot attempts like a top 10 team in the NHL. With Oscar Klefbom
they are actually shooting on net like a top 10 club.

What it comes down to is that the Oilers have three options
that they’ve identified to play the point on the power play. With two of those
options the team actually performs like an upper end NHL club. With the other
the team is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Edmonton is doing the other teams a favour by playing Justin
Schultz on the 5v4 if either Sekera or Klefbom is sitting on the bench. Given
how precious minutes are on the power play, I can’t see any reason to use
Schultz as the top option. The team is in a dogfight to keep games meaningful,
they don’t have the flexibility to waste opportunities to score.

  • Oilcounty88

    Best thing that could happen for Schultz is to get paid like the 3rd pairing guy he is. If he was making the same money as Gryba right now people would be a whole lot more satisfied with his play. At 4 million people expect top 4 kind of minutes/numbers. I think he’s going to be playing on a different team next year and much like a guy like Cogliano could find a Niche playing small minutes as a puck moving defenceman. Would not surprise me to see him end up in Detroit or Washington and find success.

  • Intermission

    If Fayne is not claimed and sent to the minors what is the cap hit for the Oil for all the D man MacT busts including Ference and Nikitin? Just curious.

  • Oilcounty88

    Powerboat was way better with Sekera or Klefbom on the point. Both have hard shots and actually get pucks through. Schultz fumbles it and can’t get his shots through. I’d even try Davidson or Nurse ahead of him.

  • I think the bigger question is if you have a soft “offensive Dman” that is not producing offence and is a liability even when on the power play, how much longer do we watch him before they make a change?

    I have not loved Fayne either and was expecting more from him, but would much prefer him on the 3rd pairing than J Schultz anywhere on my team.

  • bradleypi

    I remember watching Schultz tear it up as a 1.4PPG defenseman in the AHL before the lockout season started in 12/13 and thinking, wow we just got the next Erik Karlsson. And he chose to be here!

    Shame things didn’t work out, but I can’t see the oilers qualifying him based on what he’s showing us on the ice and stats sheets these days.

  • Puck JammeR!

    This is an excellent way to use statistics to objectively support what many people have subjectively concluded.

    E.g. I get frustrated watching Schultz repeatedly fail to hold the zone, which aggressive PKs take advantage of, with opportunities for odd-man rushes going the other way. I can sense that might explain the shot attempts against.

    Great snap/wrist shots but those are often broadcasted in and so don’t get through. When he does get some of them through and there is a bit of traffic in front, that is when he’s found success, but that also requires a D knowing when to shoot (e.g. goalie moving laterally, bodies piled at the net), and all too often these shots are slow enough for a G to get a read on. Meanwhile, his slap shot rivals Smytty’s in power (maybe a bit harsh) and is often inaccurate. I haven’t watched a lot of Davidson but his shot is a monster and he tends to learn things pretty well. I would much prefer him getting more time on the PP.

  • socaldave

    @ NewAgeSys

    HAHAHAHA I mean, where to start? How can you remediate something circumstantially? Did you lose your dictionary or find a thesaurus? And let’s assume Dellow is/was in the building for every game this year. According to your logic, how are the Oilers not winless?

    And GOOD GOD, man, there’s absolutely no way you’ve ever sold anything to anyone, lest perhaps last spring you were selling oranges under the 118 Ave/Rexall ped bridge?

    You’re barking mad, mate, and should absolutely be banned, but I’ll grant you’re good for a laugh!

    • Puck JammeR!

      People are routinely convicted at the highest levels of law based upon circumstantial evidence,and methinks a conviction=remedition.

      Remove the last 3 wins and a minimum of 4 more where they tailwinded online and thats 7 less wins….you do the math.

      I wouldnt even negotiate a coffee mug with a Team that is so regressive as to include that particular ingredient.

      You should be banned for being such an arsehole…lol.

      Hey,do you like Bacon?

  • socaldave

    How about having Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson on the power play when the Oilers are working with a 2 or more goal lead? In this situation we would not need 4 forwards. I know 2 or more goal leads don’t happen often but it will get them some experience on the pp. When they become comfortable with it, our quest to find a bomb from the point is over. Nurse, Davidson, and Klefbom.

      • Chet.

        Hmm, maybe a rookie review could be a potential article? What their situations have primarily been and what the numbers indicate? Or is prospect watch kind of a dead horse?

  • For Pete's Sake!

    The problem with Schultz is that Oiler’s fans were sold a ‘bill of goods’ on him by our former management. We all expected him to be Erik Karlsson from the way he was described.

    He will never be that player so Oiler fans will forever be disappointed in him.

    If he had been described as the next “Tom Gilbert,” we wouldn’t be disappointed at all because that’s exactly the kind of defenseman he is.

    A capable puck mover without a physical edge, who can play decent 3rd pairing minutes in today’s NHL, just as Gilbert is doing for the Montreal Canadiens.

    Schultz can do the same for the Edmonton Oilers, no more, no less.

    It’s time to give the guy a break. He did not ask to be described as a, “Norris Trophy Potential,” defenseman.

    • bradleypi

      Lol. Hindsight is 20/20 on oilersnation as always. That’s a great story tho bro. And nobody was comparing him to erik Karlsson. Another example of oilers fans expecting more from CERTAIN players than is realistic. And if you and everyone are so certain he’s a 3rd pairing dman, why was he so sought after when he was a free agent? The oilers weren’t the only ones to see potential in him. I think he’s been pretty good since Eakins left town.

  • Chet.

    Thanks for this article. It’s nice when the numbers confirm what you notice by eye: Schultz is not very effective on the point on the PP.

    His slap shot is a muffin and his wrist shot isn’t much better. Other teams already know this, so they don’t bother to pressure him when he gets it. They just keep covering off the pass options.

  • Puck JammeR!

    It’s unfair to single out Schultz as the problem on the power play. I think Shultz just happens to be on a Power Play that isn’t very good.

    Sure. Give him some credit but there are 4 other guys on the ice, and another unit. Really, the Oiler Power Play is nowhere close to where it needs to be, or can be on paper.

    It seems to me they get pressured, then start handling the puck like a hot potato.

  • Tony Montana

    I really feel that the Oilers are trying to give Schutz a push in an effort to pump up his value for a trade deadline move. Given what we know of ChiaPete and his fondness for team toughness, a butter soft offensive D-man with a lacking slapshot is not long for this team. If he was a left hand shot they would have moved on from him last season. Otherwise there is no explanation for why the fourth best Power Play point option is playing on the #1 PP Unit.

  • mithaman

    Hendo – I don’t think you are looking at the right stats. A much simpler and better stat to look at would be PP % with Schultz vs. PP % w/o Schultz. IE – Are the Oilers scoring when Schultz is on the ice?

    Can you share those numbers?

    I rarely stand up for Schultz but to pin this on him is nonsense. The PP was garbage when he was out of the line up too. Enough of these incomplete Corsi arguments already. It’s a terrible stat to measure individuals, especially when there are better stats out there already.

  • Puck JammeR!

    The only shocking thing about Justin Schultz is how friggin long it takes for so called professional evaluators of talent to start coming around to realizing how sh$%#ty a player he is. And 2. How many viewers/fans etc are still holding out for Schultz to become this player.

    NEWS FOR ALL REMAINING SCHULTZ FANS: Davidson is already the player you thought Schultz would be. Let it Go!

  • Puck JammeR!

    You argument is quite damning, when Justin is advertised as an offensive defensmen. he is just not very good at it.

    I mentioned this last year. Justin is just not very good at what he is supposed to be good at.

    He has skills, but don’t let that overshadow the results he is actually able to get out there.
    Just like the other article, our right side D has some serious holes.

    Why is Nurse not getting some PP time. He has a good shot, mobile, is good at gaining the zone, lets start grooming him into our #1 D man.

  • BDH

    Kruger, Eakins, McT, Nelson and now McLellen all see Schultz differently than most posters and commenters on this site. Hmmm NHL coaches (head and assistance) or bloggers and commenters. Who could right? Hmmmm

    Why do we as fans always need a Hate On for someone? Petry anyone?? Everyone had a Hate on for him until..,it was too late.

  • Oiler Fan 16

    I’m an admitted Jultz basher. It’s so easy because he is terrible.

    He plays soft and belongs in the AHL where he can either find his game or find a new contract with another team.

    I had expected him to be tried on the wing this year, but another soft right winger is not what the Oilers have needed. I still think he will become a winger at some point. Hopefully not with the Oilers…

    Maybe some team in the German 3rd tier…

  • Delete

    I don’t mind Schultz so far this year. It’s up to TMc to decide how to use him.

    My concern is that he’s a pending UFA. I’m sure someone will pay him 4M but I don’t expect it will be the Oilers. So he has one foot out the door unless he decides he likes playing for the Oilers enough to take a pay cut.

  • Oiler Fan 16

    Some of McLellan’s player deployment really is puzzling at times. I wouldn’t put him out on the PP. He is a flat out liability. I think he is as good as gone either at the trade deadline or draft. He is not a Chiarelli or McLellan type player.

    I wonder what is going through MacT’s mind as his team is headed out the door and out of the Oilers future.