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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Splitting the Numbers: Home’s been anything but sweet for Oilers

Mired in Vegas-sized expectations after being most sports books’ consensus favourite to take home the Stanley Cup in 2017-18, the Oilers haven’t just stumbled out of the gate, they’ve essentially fallen flat on their faces 20 games into the campaign.

Edmonton is, obviously, sitting far back from where it hoped to be at the quarter mark of the season. The club is holding on to the seventh spot in the Pacific Division while ranking 29th in goals for and 22nd in goals against. They also rank below the current NHL average in many major team statistical categories including wins, goals for, points percentage, goals against, save percentage, goal differential, shooting percentage and penalty kill.

Aside from the measurably noticeable drop-off in team performance as a whole, the fact that the Oilers have been so dismal at home — a place they were so dominant last season — is extra alarming.

The once-friendly confines of Rogers Place have been anything but so far, with the Oilers dropping seven of their 11 games at home for a .363 winning percentage. To put that in perspective, the team was one of the NHL’s best on home ice last season, going 25-12-4 at Rogers Place while posting a winning percentage of .610 — nearly double the victory clip of this year’s squad.

Here’s where the Oilers stand in several major team statistical (5v5) categories through 20 games, and where they finished the regular season at in 2016-17:

(All team statistics via Corsica)

The team has dropped significantly in every category except CF percentage through the quarter mark of this season. As a group, the club has clearly been underperforming, and as individuals, the Oilers key players have had some curious home and away splits 20 games in.

(All individual stats via Hockey-Reference)

From an offensive standpoint, the Oilers big guns up front of McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl have still felt the most comfortable on home ice this season. All three have a higher (or very similar) shooting percentage, points per game and plus/minus at home versus on the road. Draisaitl and McDavid are both posting significantly better possession numbers on the road. The Nuge, however, has been significantly better at home across the board.

Here’s how the back-end splits at 5v5 so far this year:

Edmonton’s three key contributors on the blue line have had a tough time finding the back of the net away from home this year, as the trio have notched zero goals and just six assists in 27 road games collectively. Goals from the back end have been a little easier to come by on home ice with Klefbom and Larsson tallying a couple each but still sit way off their performance pace from a year ago. Nurse has been the rock on the Oilers defence corps no matter where the games are held, but the team will need significantly higher output, especially from Klefbom, if it hopes to scrape it’s way to the postseason despite a dismal start.

The trend is going to be a hard one to buck, though. Of the 36 teams that have been in an equal or worse position than the Oilers at the quarter-mark over the past 13 seasons, only one has been the playoffs, meaning the Oilers chances of bouncing back from their 7-11-2 start and making the postseason sits right around a 1/3 of a percent. Yikes.

Making home sweet once again — and going on a similar tear at Rogers Place as they did at the end of last season when they won their final nine straight games on home ice — would go a long way in helping the Oilers recover from this tumultuous start and reach the NHL’s springtime dance against the odds.

  • Kr55

    Not to put all the blame on Talbot for the poor start, but he has been consistently pretty bad at home. Wonder if his 2 rug rats have become a handful. Noticed pictures around of how his wife was down in Dallas with him too, where he put up another ECHL performance.

      • Kr55

        Lou isn’t that mean. He would just put tracking devices on this players and their kids to ensure they aren’t within 100ft of each other for more than 1 hour a day.

    • KMA

      I will say it again, Talbot will be burnt out soon if not already with the number of games he has played since the start of last season. The failure to provide the team with a quality back-up is on the GM.

    • I say that because essentially the article is saying there’s nothing wrong with the core players (McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Klefbom, Larsson, and Nurse) at home. So where’s the hole? Oilers are 3rd last in the PK. Every 4 penalties, they get scored on. Terrible. Who’s got the lowest +/- per minute on the PK?

    • Heschultzhescores

      Goal Scored
      Close call 2mins of domination in Oil End
      Goal Scored
      Two Goal posts and crossbar but we survived
      Goal Scored
      Talbot seen tapping out, Ref calls another penalty for delay of game 2 men short
      Goal Scored 2 seconds before Maroon gets out of Box. Maroon shakes his head in disgust.

  • Rama Lama

    The biggest problem that no one seems to talk about is the fact Connor MaDavid has no one to play with……..except an natural centre that has been moved to the wing. They are both similar players in that they can both carry the play and like doing just that. In other words IMHO they are not true complimentary players…….you should not have two play making centres on the same line!!!

    Now we have other players ( like Maroon and Cagullia) that often play with Connor, but again should not play with CM simply because they do not have the requisite skill /speed to play with CM. I remember the day that Glen Sather introduced Jurri Kurri to Wayne Gretzky and then Esa Tikkanen………now those are complimentary player to Gretzky, which in my mind made the whole line work.

    Time to find player that can truly play with CM………enough of watching the current group struggle to make or convert a pass. It’s getting to be most frustrating watching the current state of affairs with the whole team. I say it’s not the players fault, but instead how this team is constructed. It seems that NONE of the current management group learned anything from the past in terms of how to construct chemistry……….and it show!

    Time for PC to go……..the guy is a dud!

    • Hemmercules

      Any suggestions on who they should bring in to play with McD? Everyone is in love with James Neal these days. I guess that would be good but a bunch of teams probably want him right now so he won’t go cheap if they even want to trade him at this point. It’s going to be hard to keep making trades for multi million dollar players just to see if they play well with mcdavid. Maroon and Drai had fine chemistry with him only a few months ago. I would rather just see them together and work it out. They have Drai and McD for 8 more years, what’s the harm in keeping them together and splitting them when they eventually get another player the play with McD?

      Talbot being subpar and the terrible special teams is killing them. Not easy fixes but they had good pk and pp numbers last year so I can’t understand why they can’t do it again? Was losing pouliot on the Pk that huge of a blow? Did losing eberles points destroy them that much? I don’t believe so but this is where they are. I think they bought into their own hype too much and now find themselves in a hole under some huge pressure and are having a hard time getting out of it. Maybe they need a new mind on the special teams systems or a new coaches all together but I don’t think this team is as bad as they have shown this season. It’s on them to play their way out of it at this point.

    • btrain

      My question would be, even if we had a reasonably solid winger as an option to play with McDavid, would we even recognize it based on our expectations? and should this pursuit of a high scoring presence on McDavid’s wing even be a priority of focus?
      Considering Crosby has only had one of his predominant wingers over the past 5 seasons put up more than 60pts (Kunitz with 68), why should we think McDavid’s wingers should or need to be dominant forces? Why would we want the GM to sell off future assets, prospects and tie up more cap space, to get 10 more points out of the top line when those points and a better overall team could be had by balancing out the entire roster. Like Crosby, McDavid is going to produce no matter who he plays with. This may not result in pt/game wingers but they will be putting up top line pts on a budget. So if there is a move that improves the entire team….great, if you are looking for someone specifically to play with McDavid, I am not sure that its worth the cost and effort as no matter how green the grass looks for guys like James Neal, Jordan Eberle has outscored him (since 2010/2011), and look what folks thought of Eberle and his inability to consistently click with McDavid.

  • Roberto

    If they aren’t gonna have a shot at playoffs, I’m almost ready to start cheering for losses, just to see how the Old boys, Todd, Chia, etc try to talk their way out of it. The excuses and blaming others never ceases to amaze me. They’re unlimited. I’m not giving up hope on this season just yet, but I’m getting close.

  • Elasmus

    I don’t consider myself to be a genius, but I honestly feel like Drai on the 2nd line and Nuge on the 3rd line would be ideal, but instead of having the 2nd line play more minutes, split the time more evenly between the 2nd and 3rd line. The 2nd line would be Lucic-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi/Slepyshev/Strome and the third line would be Cammalleri-RNH-Puljujarvi/Slepyshev/Strome. We would have both a grinding cycling line and a faster shooting line which would make it difficult for the opposing D to defend against 2 different styles of play. I’m probably wrong, but I feel like that would be best.

  • Total Points

    It seems like the players don’t get along and it shows. From what I have seen of their play (no celebration when scoring, etc) the rumors appear to be true.

    I would hate to see things blown up – front office, etc because of a player dispute. Management has a big problem on their hands which is hard to fix.

    I wait to see their next step.

    • Odanada

      I agree that the rumours seem more plausible all the time. There is no easy solution to this at all. If Chia deems it necessary to trade the problem he’ll get fleeced for sure; he’s been fleeced when no one else could see his cards. Now? Oy….

  • AustinH1993

    I see so much hate towards Peter Chiarelli this season. Oilers fans constantly blaming him for the fact that Edmonton has started the season 7-11-2. Here’s what Edmonton’s top-6 Forwards and D corps looked like just before Chiarelli took over after the 2014/15 season:
    Hall-Nuge-Eberle
    Pouliot-Roy-Yakupov
    Klefbom-Schultz
    Ference-Petry
    Nikitin-Fayne. (Marincin)
    Here’s where they stand today:
    Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl
    Lucic-Nuge-Caggiula (Puljujarvi)
    Nurse-Larsson
    Klefbom-Benning (Sekera when Healthy)
    Russell-Gryba (Auvitu)
    The Additions Chiarelli has been directly responsible for: Lucic, Maroon, Caggiula up front.
    Larsson, Benning, Russell, Gryba, Sekera on the back-end.
    Players he’s dealt away/bought out: Hall, Eberle, Pouliot, Yakupov.
    What team would you rather have? The 2016/17 Oilers, or the 2014/15 Oilers? In my opinion, this team’s problems start with Todd McLellan. The roster we boast right now, is SIGNIFICANTLY better than the 2014/15 Oilers, and it’s not even close. Our special teams are awful, predictable, and player utilization during in-game scenarios by Todd is baffling. Need a right shooting sniper on the PP? Todd opts for Letestu over Puljujarvi. Why?
    After a big loss, who does Todd talk about after the games? The guy who probably scored 3 points for the team in McDavid. Todd refuses to let Draisaitl champion his own line, and keeps him as a winger ala Pavelski from his days in San Jose.
    If Edmonton plays below .500 going into December, I’d pull the trigger on the coach and the assistants. This team is far too talented to be a bottom dweller among the likes of the Arizona Coyotes.

    • The Dave

      First off, Jay Woodcroft is in charge of special teams as far as I know. Letestu is on the powerplay because he has a pretty good shot and got a ton of PP goals off McDavid feeds last year. Our team has some talent but we aren’t exactly loaded with snipers (most of our guys get goals by being *close*, not by having wicked shots). So we take what we can get. Poolparty has been on the team for a few games. I’m fine with not rushing him into a spot he hasn’t earned yet.

      Second, I really don’t get what everyone thinks will happen if we split up Leon and Connor. I know people have been harping on that a lot lately, but how does that fix the problem? We’re short on right wingers, so we should take one of our best players off right wing and put him at center, and that will fix things somehow, I guess? I heard Rishaug on the radio suggesting that Drai needed to play on the Right Wing with Nuge. This is a few days after people were criticizing McLellan for juggling lines too much.

      Here’s the deal: McDavid is scoring as much as he did last year. Drai is scoring as much he did last year. Nuge is scoring more than he did last year. Maroon is in the ballpark of where he was last year. Lucic is scoring as much as he did last year. If we are wondering why we are performing worse than last year the answer simply isn’t those five guys. The PP has even righted itself and is producing at a comparable rate to last year (not quite as high, but that horrendous start is getting erased by numbers in line with last year). People keep complaining about this stuff but it’s not like it is hard to disprove any of these criticisms of the team.

      If we find the perfect place for Leon is that going to improve our PK? Is Kassian going to start scoring? Is Klefbom gonna get back in a groove? Are the plumbers on the team going to stop getting massacred out there? I doubt it.

      And let’s not forget that the Oil from last year had a lot of these problems and just happened to get away with things a bit more often. We still got blown out a few times, it just didn’t seem to rattle the group the way it is right now. The fact is, the players underperforming are mostly the depth roles. I don’t know if its the matchups we are getting or bad luck or what, but I know we aren’t turning it around if Letestu stays at -11.

  • The Dave

    “Of the 36 teams that have been in an equal or worse position than the Oilers at the quarter-mark over the past 13 seasons, only one has been the playoffs, meaning the Oilers chances of bouncing back from their 7-11-2 start and making the postseason sits right around a 1/3 of a percent.”

    Not that this really diminishes your point all that much, but I think your math is off by quite a bit there. I mean, we’re still in deep trouble, but you lowballed the Oilers by an extra zero.

  • madjam

    Hockeywriters are heating up to a Hab to Oiler trade involving Price and/or Pacioretti possibly going to Oilers , with Draisaitl or Hopkins and possibly Talbot only names so far they might want in return . Could be a blockbuster trade ?

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    What’s the problem here? everyone has a complaint but no solution. They are failing as a team no cohesion and maybe the leadership core is too young still to get everyone out of the funk. No one player is to blame they are simply not playing for each other and need something to change momentum. The bottom six, goaltending and specialty teams need to be better captain obvious.

    • AJ88

      Take Maroon and Lucic off the first two lines. Too slow physically and mentally, no disrespect to them, but use them in a different role. RNH up to the first with McD and Cagguila, Drai with Khaira/Strome/Pulj/ Slepyshev. It is time to get some speed in the top 2 lines.

  • AustinH1993

    Oilers fans are the most infuriating to deal with. Sure, Chiarelli isn’t perfect. Hes made some questionable moves in Boston and Edmonton. Everyone likes to play the “he put Boston in cap hell” card.

    Last time I checked, Boston won the cup in 2011, and another final appearance in 2013. Every team that wins a cup goes into cap hell. It’s called going all in. Which Chiarelli did. Boston, however, and other recent cup winners such as Pittsburgh and Chicago, have great scouts and farm systems. When a top tier player has to be dealt or let go, a player developed with the organization is ready to take their place, keeping their window open.

    The Oilers are still dealing with the lack of a stocked prospect cupboard from the last 10 years of the old regime. Fans don’t understand that our lack of depth right now isn’t because Chiarelli failed to make the right moves, it’s because the organization has failed and bringing in their own homegrown talent to replace an Eberle or Hall.

    In saying that, the team on paper is fine. A playoff contender that’s underperforming because of a piece of garbage ego-maniac head coach.

    • DXB

      Agree! The same people who post on here using hindsight to project how terrible our GM is and what visionaries they are, are the same one that were booking tables for the cup parties this year. Not bulking up the D was a mistake but no one on this site saw the train wreck that has been 77’s season thus far either. Holding on to Eberle for 1 more year and taking the risk he would have another year like last and being forced to trade him is high risk. I’ll take strome today over a 3rd round and retaining salary tomorrow. Hall for Larson, everyone seems to forget just how bad our D was at the time and how desperate we were for help, again forced to trade from a position of weakness, and we got what we needed. The team is fine, our core are extremely young, the futures bright even if this year is cooked. If thats the case we will have a new coach and move on.

  • Rebuilds30

    Twitter reporting Carey price, Max Pacioretty and prospects Noah Juulsen and Ryan Poehling will be traded to Edmonton for Leon Drasaitl, Cam Talbot and Jesse Puljujarvi.

  • Ranford.85

    Maroon-McD-1RW
    Lucic-RNH-Slep/Pulji
    Cam-Strome-Slep/Pulji
    Caggs-Khaira-Kassian
    (Letestu/Malone)

    Klef/Larsson
    Sekera/Russ
    Nurse/Banning
    (Gryba)

    This will be wildly unpopular… but I’d see what teams would offer for Draisaitl.
    Sniper for Connor and a real 2RD?
    RNH at $6 is an ideal 2C

  • FLAURIE

    Flames win again, stamps win again, edmonton and the sweat pant wearing fans , the ones that were planning the parade, that is called KARMA, 10 more years of hell, love it!

  • Heschultzhescores

    If any of these trade rumours are true, then the Oiler’s are being sabotaged! We, the fans, need to have a veto vote in regards to any further trades.

  • Carl the tooth

    Extra !!Extra!! READ ALL ABOUT IT !! Johnny Gaudreau On 6 game goal streak ,10 game point streak longest current streak in NHL . Monahan 22 points almost catching mcdavid,on pace for 50 goals !! Johnny on pace for 42 goals!! Ferlund on pace for over 30 goals . TKACHUK on pace for 60 points !! Taylor Hall 21 points is catching connor. 25 points only 😉

      • cgyearnall/edmfreeloaders

        No karma here..you reap what you sew..we calgary hard are hard wrkin people and players..a clean city with mauntains and chinooks..not the dumpster that is north with hillbilly sister bangers …with poor cfl team and the longest streak in nhl at bottom 5 teams …13 y rs .and counting..