WWYDW: Scoring Woes

14-Eberle-7

Over the last 10 games, Patrick Maroon has scored seven
even-strength goals, which is a fantastic total. The remainder of the Edmonton
Oilers roster has scored just 10, which is a much less impressive number. Nix
the goals that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl tallied, as well as that of
injured forward Tyler Pitlick, and Maroon has as many even-strength goals in that
span as every healthy bottom-nine forward on the team put together.

In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we
ask what our readers would do to address the problem.

The good news is that the power play has done a lot to cover
for the offensive outage elsewhere, which has bought Todd McLellan and his
staff some time to figure out how to restart a sputtering attack. The figures
before and after December 1 bear some attention:

  • Before Dec. 1: 32.3 shots/hour, 8.2 shooting percentage,
    2.65 goals/hour
  • Since Dec. 1: 29.9 shots/hour, 7.2 shooting percentage, 2.17
    goals/hour

Shooting percentage is part of the problem, though it’s
hardly catastrophic. Edmonton is presently just above the league average by
5-on-5 shooting percentage, and even a 7.2 percent number would rank them 20th
in the NHL. In other words, there’s not too much to see here.

The shot drop-off is a little more interesting. 32 shots per
hour would be the fifth-best total in the league, and suggest a high-end
offensive team. 30 shots per hour is much closer to league-average, and if that’s
what the Oilers do the rest of the way it probably means they’re only an
average offensive team.

Let’s boil this down to the individual level, though.

Edmonton’s Forwards

19-Maroon-4

Player Since Dec. 1 GP w/o EV goal GP w/o EV point
Patrick Maroon 19 GP, 11 PTS 1 1
Leon Draisaitl 19 GP, 10 PTS 1 1
Connor McDavid 19 GP, 9 PTS 7 1
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 19 GP, 7 PTS 3 0
Mark Letestu 18 GP, 6 PTS 8 2
Zack Kassian 19 GP, 6 PTS 34 0
Anton Lander 4GP, 1 PTS 1 1
Benoit Pouliot 17 GP, 4 PTS 13 0
Jordan Eberle 19 GP, 4 PTS 22 4
Milan Lucic 19 GP, 3 PTS 15 0
Drake Caggiula 19 GP, 3 PTS 0 0
Matt Hendricks 13 GP, 2 PTS 7 7
Jesse Puljujarvi 8 GP, 1 PTS 28 6

The chart above is ranked by even-strength points/game. It shows games and even-strength points since December 1, and also games without an even-strength goal or point. It isn’t hard to find the laggards.

At the top of the chart is the Oilers’ current first line.
Connor McDavid is in a bit of a shooting percentage funk, but otherwise these
three are doing just fine. After them, we should also give Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
a bit of credit.

Then come the role players. Zack Kassian is in an epic
goal-scoring drought, but he’s still picking up points, and it’s hard to fault
either Mark Letestu or Anton Lander for their scoring over the last month and a
bit.

27-Lucic-3

Then we get to the problems:

  • Benoit Pouliot has taken a lot of heat for his performance
    this season, and rightly so. He’s scored at a 19-point full season pace since
    December 1 and that’s not nearly good enough.
  • Jordan Eberle is also a popular target. Not only has he been
    less productive by points/game than Pouliot, but he’s done it with a lot more
    ice-time, including primo minutes with McDavid.
  • One doesn’t hear a whole lot about Milan Lucic’s struggles
    because until lately the power play has helped cover them up. He has history as
    a high-end 5-on-5 scorer, though, and this simply cannot be the new normal for
    him if Edmonton is to be a competitive team. Since December 1, his scoring pace works
    out to 13 even-strength points over an 82-game season.
  • Rookie forward Drake Caggiula had five points in his first
    10 games but has just two in the 15 contests since, even with the help of power
    play minutes. He’s been given a top-nine forward spot basically by default but
    he hasn’t done much to lock it down.
  • Matt Hendricks, even at his best, didn’t score much. He’s
    now 35; very few role players last that long.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi, freshly dispatched to the minors, burnt a
    year of his entry-level deal and restricted free agency without scoring an
    even-strength goal.

That’s a snapshot of the recent scoring problems at both a
team and individual level. This week’s question: If you had the power what would you, the reader, do
about it?

    • SSB1963

      Well let’s see as of today eberle has 26 points and Johnny G in Calgary has 27 (though Ebs has played 9 more games). Eberle is -2,
      Johnny is -12. Yet you don’t hear anyone in cow town calling for his head. To many people want him to be more than he is. That said he can play better (and has said so himself), if he can start to bury his chances all this noise will subside. When he isn’t getting any chances is when I will really start to worry.

  • Hockeydude1995

    Mathew tkachuk on pace for a 55 point season, tough to play against has the compete of his father, we basically had our home grown brad marchand and we oiler it up and who do we draft? The big happy finnish special ed lookin hapless idiot. Not saying hes a bust or anything yet but come on … we didnt take the best player available.to make it worse Barzal looked good at juniors. Drafting still a problem.

      • GreatScott222

        Haha, so I’m not the only one who envisions simple Jack from tropic thunder everytime they show Poolparty sitting in the bench/penalty box. I do feel for him, though, you can’t expect much production from 3 minutes toi every 3rd game.

    • Come on man. While I think tkachuk is a fine player, it’s waaaay to early to tell who will be the better player. Puljujarvi was drafted due to size and superior raw skill set, and I’d bet if the flames drafted 4th they would have taken him.

    • Oilersrule99

      Pujjarvi will no doubt be a top player in the NHL ,it will just take him more time and adjusting.The oilers this year have had alot more changes to their lineup and leadership whereas tkachuck has been on a consistent line most of the year , he also played on a North American ice surface ,speaks fluent English and has grown up around the Nhl.

      I have no doubt pujjarvi will reemerge much like Leon draissityl did, as a dominant player in the NHL, once he gets a bit more experience and gets his confidence for the Nhl game. He has a wicked snap shot is an excellent skater that plays a well rounded game and was ranked higher than laine last year as well as MVP in world juniors .

    • Oilersrule99

      Pujjarvi will no doubt be a top player in the NHL ,it will just take him more time and adjusting.The oilers this year have had alot more changes to their lineup and leadership whereas tkachuck has been on a consistent line most of the year , he also played on a North American ice surface ,speaks fluent English and has grown up around the Nhl.

      I have no doubt pujjarvi will reemerge much like Leon draissityl did, as a dominant player in the NHL, once he gets a bit more experience and gets his confidence for the Nhl game. He has a wicked snap shot is an excellent skater that plays a well rounded game and was ranked higher than laine last year as well as MVP in world juniors .

    • nrXic

      I wanted Bennett over Draisaitl despite the fact that Draisaitl had more long term upside.

      I’m now eating crow. Every day. Every single Draisaitl shift, I’m eating crow.

      Don’t be like how I was.

      • DonEnrico

        Good for you, the first step is to admit that you had a problem, now you can approach it accordingly.

        So, who should we draft this year? (good to know, so we can inform Chia who he should NOT pick)

        😉

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          we should take a potential high end d-man, something we haven’t done since we took Darnell Nurse. but i fear that the Oilers being a forward loving team will take yet another forward after taking Puljujarvi and Benson with their first 2 picks last year.

  • Glass

    I know Eberle is having a down year. Fact is we need to trade either him or Nuge to make room for Draisaitl. Unfortunately we’d be selling low on both.

    Would you guys entertain trading Eberle at the draft?

    My argument is that Nuge is younger, and will continue to provide us with strong center depth. If we elect to keep Nuge, Draisaitl can remain as the 1RW, making Eberle expendable.

    • oilerjed

      I agree that of the two Nuge is the one to keep.
      Id be curious to l know why I am getting overwhelmingly trashed and yours is a lukewarm reception. is it reasonable to expect much return for eberle?

    • Eberle does not fit Chiarellis player mould plus Centres are easier to move around the roster. Little of topic but Team Canada’s World Cup forward group was mostly centres.

      Brings up the Taylor vs Tyler debate again. Hall is a great winger but Sequin was the player to build around.

      Plus with multiple centres in the lineup you don’t have to worry about face off kick outs and having a winger take a draw then reposition.

      I say Keep Nuge and try to fill a need for Eberle.

    • Heschultzhescores

      Not 93, he’s bigger and tougher on the puck this year. He also skates well, kills penalties well, and will eventually start scoring. Eberle, he’s just too small for this game, and Pouliot is just mentally too small for this game.

  • I don’t think anyone expected lucic to be this bad. he’s not even getting chances and he just looks disengaged to me. No scoring, no mean streak, has a hard time coming out of battles with the puck…

    As for poo, he just looks lost at times, yakupov-esque. And is pretty easily knocked off the puck for 6’7. Although he played well lest game..

    I’m not AS concerned about nuge and ebs (obviously still concerned), I think they can rebound.

    Playoffs would be a good experience for this team.

    • I agree Lucic has not lived up to his contract however McDavid himself has said how the entire team gains a little confidence once he enters the dressing room. 6’4, 230 lbs will do that; combine that physical presence with a Stanley Cup Championship and you have the veteran leadership this team has needed for a long time.

      Gimme Lucic over Eberle any day for my franchise.

  • Harry2

    As someone suggested on one of yesterdays blogs I would pair up Lucic with a center who is capable of sustaining a cycle.

    I would pair Maroon with McD. Poo with RNH and Kass. Draisaitl with Lucic and I would try Kharia on the right wing. 4th line of Slep, Letestu, Hendricks

    As for the top RW spot…. I just dont know anymore. Ebs is in a blackhole right now and I would give him yet another shot with McD

  • Delirious

    It doesnt help ebs case or any of the guys cases that they are consitently being switched from one line to another with completely different play styles. Want consistent scoring? Make set lines and leave them to build chemistry instead of completely exploding the lineup everytime they lose a game.

    • MGD

      This just isn’t true… Eberle and Lucic were stapled to McDavid for 20 games while us fans were crying out for Maroon and either Nuge or Driasatl. Even having consistency on McDAVID’S line couldn’t get these guys going.

      Is it possible, Ebs is still trying to figure out how to use a longer stick (he switched so he could get off 1-timers for Connor)? Give him his old stick back, put him on a line with Lucic and Draisatl; let the 2 big men cycle the puck and find Eberle in the slot where he’ll pick his shot.

      Move Nuge up to Draisatl’s current spot. That should spread out the talent a bit and hopefully fill the net!

      • Delirious

        The main problem with the ebs Mcdavid and lucic line was lucic. He cant grab a puck off the boards or when one of the other two would hit him with a pass he’d bobble it and lose it. Thus, making ebs and Mcdavid have to play more defensively because they were basically down a guy. Lucic has his advantages but they just arent suited for a line like that. More of a 2nd or 3rd line player.

  • Ofizcar McHandsoom

    i would put back together the rnh-draisaitl-maroon combo, then on second line put lucic and ebs with mcdavid. i know it seems counterintuitive to split up mcd-drai-maroon seeing as they are one of the most productive lines in hockey right now, but the oil need balance if they are going to make the playoffs. lucic and ebs stink right now…and the only time they produce is with mcdavid. the third and fourth lines can realistically be put in a blender til something works. i’m gonna be interested in the impact khaira will have…cause i think he can be a really good third-liner on in the NHL. unfortunately..if this is the case he’ll end up playing with pouliot, which will kill any chance of being a productive line. maybe him with drake and kassian could end up being a good line?!

  • This.Is.NHL

    Crash and bang, take more slap shots, one timers, get the goalie moving, hit the net, get the rebounds that come out 3 and 4 feet not just the 1 and 2 feet rebounds, take shots from before the hash marks can be harder for a goalie to pick up compared to just inside hash marks, make your deke shot at hash marks or before, hit top corners, five hole ice shots, get in a shooting position by being on your shooting side, board plays, change up plays, hit the follow up d. Come on boys D first no goals on and a bunch for muck it up.

  • S cottV

    The first line is great, but – if the 2nd doesn’t gain some traction, it’s not sustainable.

    Lucic has to get it going and the only way for him to do so – is, to put him with guys who can keep the puck in the o zone. Lucic is not a rusher and really – he isn’t all that good in his own end.

    He comes from the Sutter belief that the best defence is keeping possession of the puck in the o zone. Possession even for the sake of possession, or in other words keep away. Sutter doesn’t worry too much – if a line pins the puck into the o zone for 60 seconds without maybe even getting a shot. It’s a good shift. He knows that if his guys keep it up, that eventually they will get to the net for high grade scoring chances or draw a penalty for a pp opportunity. Beats the hell out of defending in your own end, because of endless one and done rushing.

    Eberle – is almost useless for this way of playing. It takes all 3 line mates and really all 5 players, working smart and playing hard to keep a puck in the o zone. One weak link and forget it. Lucic – McD – Eberle was a flawed disjointed line.

    I would really think about breaking up the first line.

    Maroon – McD – Nuge

    Lucic – Drai – Kassian

    Pouliot – Cagguila – Eberle

    • S cottV

      “Our defense were pretty good at skating themselves out of trouble, but I think everyone talks about our defensive play — we just have the puck for most of the game. I think we possessed the puck, and we were able to control the puck a lot in the offensive zone. When you do that, teams don’t get a lot of time or energy to come against you.” Darryl Sutter

      “Defensively, there’s no doubt that we backtracked really hard when we needed to, but I think that’s something that’s preached on every team and something that’s important to every team winning. … I think on the flipside, you see the effect that playing the offensive zone has, and you want to make sure that that’s something you continue to do (in the NHL).” Sidney Crosby

  • OldOilerFan

    I’m not a fan of the lines constantly juggled and as someone else said let them build chemistry. But I’m not the coach. In the older days Glen Sather would publicly call out a player for not playing to expectations and sit guys in the press box.
    I just think a couple players need some form of wake-up call, IMO.

  • Hemmercules

    Same old problems, sell a guy low or wait out their slump.

    I would trade Eberle before Nuge but neither is going to garner much attention right now. And if they keep Nuge he almost has move to the wing some of the time. 6 mil is too much for a third line centre. I’m feeling pretty certain that Pouliot wont be here next season. Lucic isn’t going anywhere obviously.

    I dont feel nearly as optimistic as some about Puljujaarvi. All season people have been saying to throw him on the first line and someone posted above that they have no doubt he will be a top player in the NHL. I’m rooting for him but I dont see him being better than Drai or even Tkachuk. Pretty early to tell I suppose.

  • Jaxon

    I like TMac’s most recent line combos and would keep them for a few games to see if they start to click. They are a slight variation from recent games where the forward lines have dominated but not scored. I think they are on the right track. Adding a scoring RW like a Vanek at the deadline might be a good idea, or maybe a C like Hanzal if they want to keep Draisaitl on the wing.

    Maroon / McDavid / Draisaitl
    Pouliot / Nugent-Hopkins / Eberle
    Lucic / Caggiula / Slepyshev
    Hendricks / Letestu / Kassian (it’s getting close to time for Hendricks to be moved aside for Khaira)

  • Ty Guy

    i would like the oil to target a guy like Gionta. may not cost us too much. yes, he is smaller and older but i think he would be a good veteran rental addition.

  • btrain

    No doubt Eberle is in one heck of a funk. For a guy who is paid for his offensive abilities, it cant be a great place to be. However, I still have time for Eberle. If he went and produced a point a game over the next 2 weeks I think some people would be irritated (nice of you to show up, about time, etc), some relieved (he is back!), but few should be surprised.
    That is what Eberle is expected to do because in the 468 games he has played, he has averaged a .76pts/game. That includes his current disaster of a season! He still has more points in a similar amount of games than guys like Hosa, Nash, Neal, and Bobby Ryan. He currently has the 6th highest shooting percentage of any right winger that has played 350 plus games since 2010-2011. Excluding this season he had an average shooting percentage of 14.1 (4th best RW). His current season shooting percentage is 7.5! Basically, if he were at his career average, he should have around 15 goals given the amount of shots he has taken. Its just highly unlikely, statistically speaking, that his current funk is here to stay.

    So if one is to make a decision on Eberle’s future, it would be wise not to blow this season’s performance out of proportion. Its a relatively small sample on an otherwise impressive career and the guy is still quite young.

    • S cottV

      Eberle is forced to operate in the real world right now.

      Teams actually take us seriously now. They play us hard and with number one goaltenders.

      We’re expected to win and we are almost always in the game, where you have to think both ways – because one goal either way is gonna almost always determine the winner.

      We have other – better and more suited to the new bigger – harder to play against identity of the team, for primo go to ice and pp time.

      The new identity is placing growing emphasis on o zone possession time and that does not suit the “what me worry” one and doner – Eberle.

      McD was apparently quoted after the NJ game, as saying something to the effect that “we stuck to it” and last year under pressure things would digress too quickly into a me first mode.

      Eberle has been in a loose as a goose environment, for a long time before this year.

      No competition for first line appearance. A lot of games out of reach from the get go and or shortly thereafter from the puck drop. Eberle and Hall kinda roll their eyes and nod – yeah, well we’re not gonna win this one, so loose as a goose – what me worry about turnovers / counterattacks – lets rush that puck and try to get some points. Me first style.

      In some ways hard to blame them too much, with the likes of Eakins and the swarm in control, because – yeah, we probably weren’t gonna win anyway.

      A small skilled guy like Eberle is gonna score in the conditions that I describe above.

      Conditions have changed. He will the odd spurt of points production, but the days of consistent .75 points per game are gone.

  • camdog

    There are 4 teams in the NHL that have scored significantly more goals than the Oilers this season. Those 4 teams are the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens. Overall per goals per games the Oilers are 9th in the league, and there are 6 teams that are significantly better than them. The Oilers are 9th in even strength goals.

    The Oilers are 18th in goals against.

    Number one thing the Oilers need to do here is sit Hendricks, he’s no longer an everyday guy, offensively or defensively. They need more speed on their fourth like. The number 2 thing is to sit Gryba. He’s played well but he’s a little slow to move the puck. Davidson will help. Third thing the Oilers need is get Nurse back in the line up.

    The number one thing that the Oilers need to look at to increase scoring is to find a heavy shot from the point. The forward group has overall been fine. There are some that are under performing and some over performing they should balance out by season end.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Try to get Vrbata, sooner than the deadline if possible.

    Other than that, there’s not much you can do besides hope and pray that at least 2 of Eberle, Nuge, Lucic and Pouliot stop being terrible 5×5 and play like they have in past seasons.

  • Will

    I think we all have to remember where this team placed last year, and the nine previous to that, and how they got there. McLellan has the team playing a defense first system. He also really likes to play quick shots, and chip and chase. This has lead to greatly improved goal differential, possession, shots, and scoring chance metrics. Which in turn have lead to more wins and a better position in the standings.

    Basically what I’m saying is I don’t think the production is magically going to pick up, because that’s not how McLellan asks his players to play.

    Thanks goodness he’s getting good PP performances because having run like the third best powerplay over all during his time in San Jose, I think that’s another integral part of his systems. Maybe, and I’m just saying maybe, that’s why San Jose always struggled in the play offs, because refs often swallow the whistles.

    The other item not noted here is the increase in scoring from the back end. While still not crazy, getting production from the back end is not a terrible trade off for more defensive minded play from the forwards.

    I think the Shlep call up will help a little, especially on that third line which has been buzzing lately.

    • S cottV

      Less rush dependence and more o zone possession = more d touches = more d shots – goals / assists.

      You are right re above – a Burns like slapper would sure help.

      The return of Nurse and Davidson will also help.

      Too many wrist shots. 5v5 and on the PP.

  • Been there

    First I would try a few changes to the lines.
    Maroon, McDavid and Kassian. Kassian has three goals taken away from him.
    Then Lucic with RNH and Drai. Comparable speed together.
    Pouliot, Eberle and Caggiula as third line.
    Khaira with Letestu and Shepyslev. Khaira has more speed than Hendricks along with physical edge and scoring touch. Shepyslev can play 3rd or 4th lines as needed.
    Adding Davidson back to defenseman also adds a better dimension with Bennning, Sekera, Russel, Klefbom and Larson with Gryba being 7th man (spare when needed)
    All that is needed is a quality backup goalie.
    Just my opinion, a balance of scoring, grit and speed.
    I would also have 2 of Maroon, Kassian or Lucic always on the power play causing havoc in front of the other teams goalie forcing them to play bigger slower defensemen to contain them.

  • Semenko27

    I think we should dump 67. If the oilers need someone to get a bunch of dumb offensive zone minor penalties, I’m your man. My cap hit will be substantially lower because i will play for unlimited rogers place dogs and tall boys. I also will not mind being a healthy scratch and watching from the teams luxury box. Pete, e-mail me.

  • PlayDirty

    Lucic’s issues are my fault.

    I vowed not to by another piece of Oiler gear until they turned the corner (I had a hat from Hall’s draft year).

    My favourite player (Lucic) got traded to the Oilers. They started off awesome. I broke down and bought his jersey for the Heritage Classic.

    The tumble began…

    My life is full of good things but hockey luck is not one of them.