A fifth of the way there

My favourite stats website is back up and running and in doing some looking around, a few stats have caught my eye.

We are now 1/5th of the way through this NHL season and I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what some of the statistics are saying about the Oilers. For those who track these often, some of this may not be of any surprise to you. For those who don’t, there might be some information that surprises you about this team.

For the record, these stats are only on players that have played in over 50 minutes for the Oilers this season. It doesn’t affect things too much, but it pulls Mark Fayne, Brandon Davidson, and Taylor Beck out of the picture, as they have only played under 8:04 per game. Stats are from stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

At five-on-five, there were a number of things that jumped out. First off, through his first seven NHL games and first 100 minutes of 5v5TOI, Matthew Benning is a 55.7 CF% player and also leads in CF%Rel. He is third on the team. The case of Benning is a curious one, as some couldn’t quite figure out why he was still up in Edmonton when he had the opportunity to get significant ice time in Bakersfield.

Give the Oilers coaching staff credit, though, as they saw something in him that others weren’t able to. By eye, he does everything right: he is smart with the puck and does great work in positioning himself when feeling pressure from forecheckers. 

Like Benning, Tyler Pitlick is another player who has made strides both on the ice and in the numbers as well. Pitlick has put up 2.33 P/60, which is good enough for second on the team. He sits with a GF% of 50, as well as a lowly CF% of 44. 

Pitlick has obviously done well in terms of individual point production, but has struggled in shot/goal differential. Pitlick’s WOWY shows that he has suffered from playing with his most common linemates, Mark Letestu and Anton Lander. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


After playing together for the first time last night, Pitlick did very well playing with McDavid and Maroon. I would be interested to see if this is a line that sees some more ice-time. Historically, Jordan Eberle has played better with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot, and it’s a line that has seen a lot of ice time together in the past. 

It has been quite some time since the Oilers were truly even an average NHL team. Right now, they are just that. 

Oilers at 5v5, 2016-2017, 775:34 TOI:

  • CF% – 50.4 – 12th in the NHL 
  • GF% – 50.0 – 14th in the NHL
  • SF% – 51.0 – 10th in the NHL
  • PDO – 99.7 – 14th in the NHL
Oilers at 5v5, 2015-2016, 3912:44 TOI:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • CF% – 48.8 – 19th in the NHL
  • GF% – 44.3 – 29th in the NHL
  • SF% – 48.5 – 23rd in the NHL
  • PDO – 98.7 – 28th in the NHL
We are only 1/5th of the way into the season, but there are some good trends. Many around the NHL believe that American Thanksgiving is the marker for what your team will most likely look like for the remainder of the season. The Oilers are still six games away from that day, and face the Ducks, Kings, Stars, and Avalanche on the road, as well as the Blackhawks at home in the mean time. Those will be tough games. 

The early start has shown some good trends for players, and the team as a whole. Guys like Benning and Pitlick have especially impressed early; both players have done lots to show that they deserve to play in the lineup and it will be interesting to see how the lineups change as players begin returning from injury.

The latest from Laing:

  • Looch#27

    Let’s hope we figure it out on this tough road swing! I’m still being patient here we’ve had a pile of turnover from last year and the injury bug has been unkind yet again. I hope Looch can kind a way to play through his little slump and the rest of our big guys lead the way. Pitlick is looking amazing and maybe could be our answer at RW till we can find that natural scorer to fit there. Go Oil!!!

    • Klef abs

      We have had no real significant injuries yet. None of the top 6 or top D. Russell hurts some but was coming back to earth after a hot start.
      And Pitlick is anything but a natural goal scorer. All 5 of his goals are garbage goals that the other team would love to have back. Great for him for going hard to the net and getting those goals but they are far from pretty.

      • Hemmercules

        His last goal was actually pretty nice. Skated it out front from the corner and backhanded it in. I think his bigger problem is the increased ice time and facing some tough lines at the same time. He works his ass off though and probably deserves some Mcdavid time for a bit.

        They should have moved Eberle back with Nuge a few games ago. Maybe they were waiting for Kassian to return before too much RW line shuffling?

        Drai needs a move too. Get him on the wing for a bit to take some pressure off.

      • Danglishish

        “We have had no real significant injuries yet.”

        Brandon Davidson, according to the fancy stats, was our best d-man against other teams’ top players last season. He’s yet to get in the lineup.

        Drake Caggiula, although not one of our top players, was a critical piece of the equation at the beginning of the year because he allowed Drai to move into the wing with Nuge. He is yet to make an appearance this year.

        Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll take having these 2 out of the lineup over McDavid and Klefbom all day. But to say we’ve had no significant injuries yet is not accurate.

      • Not a First Tier Fan

        I didn’t realize that only the pretty goals counted…

        To my mind that’s been one of the problems with the Oil for the last few years. Everyone looking for the highlight reel play and leaving the greasy goals behind.

        Forget that! Crash in front of the net and bang in that brick! With Pitkin, Kassian and Maroon we finally have some players on the ice who’ll do that. I’m loving it…

        • Klef abs

          Where did I say they didn’t count? I said good on him for going to the net and getting those dirty goals. But you and others thinking hes become some sort of sniper that is the trigger man McDavid needs is hilarious. I’ve always liked Pitlick. Glad he’s finally staying healthy enough to get a good run. But hes not a top line talent.

          • Not a First Tier Fan

            Hey dude – you just accused me of misinterpreting your post and followed it up by willfully reading all kinds of baggage in my post that I came nowhere near saying…

            Pot, this is Kettle.

            I’m happy we have players willing to pay the price and get garbage goals – whatever line they play on. Your posts seem to cast a negative view on those types of points because they aren’t pretty.

            My point is that a point is a point.

        • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

          If PItlick can learn to stand in the breach in front of the net a tip and battle like Smyth and then play D like he did I for one will feel as if we found a pot of Gold . That would be the pick-up of the year for this team after CMD

      • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

        If this was the NBA where one or two players can carry a team I would agree. I would argue that the loss of every injured Oiler at this time is hurting us. Our 4th line has lost edge, Our D looks lost without just one player, our first line has had issues. I would argue that with all those players healthy we win at least 3 of the last 7 games.

      • OnDaWagon

        Smyth scored 386. Do you think they weren’t earned? I hope the Oilers do have, or find a player willing to go to where the bombs explode for the sake of the team. If Pitlick is that player, I hope he does make life miserable for other d-men, and goalies. I’m thinking Edmonton fans will appreciate it a whole lot more than it sounds like you do. I for one, doesn’t call it garbage goals. I call them working man goals.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      I feel the trend has far more to do with learning to be ready for when the puck drops than anything else. It is emotional maturity and a readiness to go hard at the puck drop. It seems as if the players need some way to bridge the gap between warm-ups and the puck drop. We so often seem to be watching the first five min of the game. Not all the players of coarse but if it is one player on each of the top two lines it could easily net a goal from each line 1 game in 3 during the first two min.

  • S cottV

    Nice year over year trend for 5v5.

    I suspect (hope not) that the increases will take a bit of a hit, over the next several games.

    Still – we should maintain an improvement by US Thanksgiving.

    Much of the difference between where we are at and the top of the league, has to do with o zone possession.

    We’re getting a better push from the back end. Our centermen are gaining experience. We have some bigger complimentary players that are more capable of maintaining a forward push.

    How do we get to the top of the pack in 5v5?

    We have to stop squandering o zone possession, with premature make or break passes into the middle of the o zone and premature low quality shots on net.

    If it’s really there – early in an o zone possession – great, make a play. But – too often its not there early. You have to dig the puck in the o zone with excellent 5 man – puck protection, cycling, d pinches, use of the points etc. Confuse, tire and stretch the d alignment and at the right time – make plays to the net.

    The Oilers are starting to get with these tactics but it is no where near at the level – it needs to be in order to gain full benefits. Learning to do this stuff well – takes commitment, practice and execution. The group has to be very good at both protecting and preserving possession and then also good at pulling out of it and taking the puck to the net. At this point – the Oilers aren’t even very good at the preservation part.

    PC’s stated vision for the hockey club is bigger and or harder to play against – more o zone possession through puck protection, cycling and using the points. Less dependence on rush tactics.

    I don’t see McL – pushing this agenda enough. He seems to be letting guys bail out on maintaining the tough possession go, by throwing some lame @ss pass or shot at net – that has no chance.

    Result – the puck goes the other way and the opposition has enough juice in the tank to mount a counter attack, rather than having to make a change because they are too tired – defending in their d zone.

    We have a fair ways to go, to be able to hang out with the top end of the league in 5v5 performance.