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.

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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:

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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

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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.


  • Delete

    I started writing a snotty (but witty) comment deriding Justin Schultz, but I remembered he is just a kid with a ton of pressure on his shoulders.

    I just hope he turns it around here quickly, or gets a new opportunity somewhere else.

  • A-Mc

    I don’t think there are any Oilers fans who understand why Schultz gets any PP time.

    No slap shot, can’t defend the line, slow decision making, weak shot selection, etc.

    Sekera and Klefbom are the better options and always were the better options.

  • Serious Gord

    So fayne waived. Nikitin banished to the ahl, ference mysteriously injured. And likely Shultz will be gone by the end of the year.

    Has there been a more miserable GM failure in the history of the league than klowe/Macts attempt at building a defense for the oil?

    • bradleypi

      Lol. Even when the oil are winning MH rags on schultz. If shots from the point are so critical to a power plays success, as everyone here believes, why don’t the oilers put 2 guys at the point instead of 1? Wouldn’t that open more shooting lanes? I think McLellans power play is a little more complex than just shooting pucks from the point….. he clearly wants the down low play. Too bad he doesn’t have a Joe Thornton on this team to make it hum. It will be a better power play when McDavid gets back to run it. He’s the real key to it. Not schultz imo.

  • The Goalie 1976

    This will not matter when over the summer Schultz is traded for cap room and the Oilers sign one of Yannick Weber, Dustin Byfuglin, or Keith Yandle.

    Personally I’m hoping for Webber as his point totals, age and size, match with what the Oilers are trying to do. But I’d also be cool with Yandle coming in and mentoring either Nurse or Klefbom. And I’d also be cool with a Byfuglin Nurse top pair as that would just make other teams haaaaaaate coming here. Also I here he can play up as a forward giving the team some impressive depth.

  • rkabyn

    What happened to Brandon Davidson on the PP, if memory serves he scored a pretty nice goal on the PP and had some really nice chances on his few opportunities. Get that kid out there over Jultz.

  • Intermission

    We should look at Carolina’s (yes, Carolina’s) PP. Justin Faulk has 11 PPG and is leading the league in PP goals and all he does is blast bombs from the point whenever he touches the puck.

    I’d put Davidson on the point if it were me. Kids got a bomb.

  • 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?

    • BDH

      If the Oilers plan on keeping the ball rolling Shultzy is a key player….so Mehinks we will work him directly into the offense against the Sea-Slugs…not only Justin….lol….we will work a few d-men into the post-game statistical equation just for kicks,but ESPECIALLY JUSTIN.

      We will shift all of Mac-L’s Process into direct contrast,mirror it…..lol….we wont worry about the Sea-Slugs they are easy pickings.

      Lol….like everyone else Schultz is just paddeling his way out of Eakins backed-up Shi#! Creek everyone spent 1 1/2 years thrashing around in.

      I say we will work Justin into the offense by proxy of Process …..lol….NOW.Guaranteed.Against the San Jose Sea-Slugs.

  • Romance14

    I agree with you a 100% Matt. When Schultz is on the point, he is just killing time. Nugent-Hopkins draws a defender towards him on the half-wall and tees Schult up for the one timer and he either has his shot blocked, misses the net or double clutches and then stickhandles the puck ten times before passing it back to Nuge. Opposing teams must love defending him because they know his shot is not a threat.

  • BDH

    “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.”

    Come on man.

    Four great players mean the Oilers should be crushing it? Geez, who else in the league could find four great players to put on a power play? Ummm, maybe all of them? It takes a good system, and two strong units to make a good power play. Given the fact that Eberle was injured at the start, and now McDavid, Pouliot and Yakupov are all injured, having the Oilers be right in the middle of of the league is actually fantastic.

  • The Goalie 1976

    When Jultz is on the ice he’s like a double agent working for the other team, not just on the PK but evens too.

    Never thought I’d say I miss Petry

  • Eh Blinkin

    It has been a few days since the last “Schultz is the worst” article, you guys are slipping!

    The way hockey fans (not just Oilers fans) pick 1 player per team to be the sole cause of all their pain is amusing.

    • bradleypi

      Is Dellow still part of the Oilers…..because if he is the win streak ends tonight.,and the lessons shall become more meaningfull until we see remediation.

      Will someone please verify if Dellow is in the Fold?

      I have a pin in each hand and one in my teeth…I need Fire-Order confirmation.