Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Missed Opportunities

The Edmonton Oilers dominated the Toronto Maple Leafs last night.
They outshot them 41-23.
They had 89 shot attempts to the Leafs’ 47.
But they lost 1-0.

When you’re sitting in 14th place in the Western Conference and seven points out of a playoff spot on December 10th, playing well and losing doesn’t offer much solace.

No question the Oilers played very well yesterday, and Curtis McElhinney made some huge saves to improve to 6-0 all-time versus Edmonton, but their shooting let them down.

The Oilers missed the net 28 times last night, with Oscar Klefbom leading the way with six misses. He also had seven shots on net. He was very active in the offensive zone, and this was the most active I’ve seen him around the puck in a long time.

The Oilers deserved a better fate, but they also missed on many of their best chances. They hit four goal posts. You can call it unlucky, which would seem realistic, but they also didn’t capitalize on a full two-minute 5-on-3 powerplay.

They created numerous chances, but they couldn’t finish.

They played very well in Montreal and actually followed that up with another solid effort in Toronto. Back-to-back strong performances have been rare this season, but due to their positioning in the standings last night’s loss was a real kick in the junk.

The Oilers are now tied (with Arizona) for the NHL lead with 364 shots sent wide of the net. They also have 24 missed shots high (over the net), 19 goal posts and four crossbars.

Their 411 total missed shots are third most in the NHL, trailing Calgary (416) and Arizona (417), but the Coyotes have played three more games.

They are on pace for 1123 missed shots. They had 955 last season.

The positive is the Oilers are generating a lot of shots. They are sixth in SOG with 1,035. They were eighth last season at 2,550, and are on pace for 2,829 shots this season.

Only Pittsburgh has more shots (on net and missed) than the Oilers.

But last night their missed shots really stung. As I said, earlier, if the Oilers were comfortably in a playoff spot, last night’s result wouldn’t matter as much. But they can’t keep misfiring and expect to get back in the race.

Bearing down is part of the job in the offensive zone. It isn’t enough to just create good chances, at some point you need to finish them off.

Missed shots were one reason Jordan Eberle finished with a career-low 20 goals last season. Missing point blank is often a sign of a lack of confidence.

Eberle led the Oilers with 89 missed shots. He also had a career-high 208 shots on net, but he only had 20 goals. He admitted he battled confidence issues and we saw him settle for easy outside shots too often, and he frequently missed the net from a great shooting lane.

This season in New York, he has 65 shots (on pace for 183, right around his average), has 21 missed shots (on pace for 59) and he has 12 goals. He is missing the net less often and scoring more.

Things can change in a hurry, but the trend can also continue in a negative way.


Mar 23, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom (77) takes a shot on goal in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I see the same with Klefbom this season. Players, consciously or subconsciously, try to make the perfect shot and end up missing more than they’d like.

Klefbom has 41 missed shots already. He is on pace for 115. He had 84 last season. He also has 88 shots on goal (on pace for 245), which would be 40 more than last season. D-men are a different than scoring wingers, in that most of their shots occur further away from the goal, but Klefbom is missing the net more than you’d like, and it really hurts when it happens from a good scoring area.

Last year the Oilers had seven players with more than 46 missed shots — Eberle (89), Klefbom (84), Connor McDavid (77), Milan Lucic (74), Leon Draisaitl (72), Patrick Maroon (65) and Andrej Sekera (64).

This season they have nine players on pace to have 55+ missed shots.

KIefbom is on pace for 115. Darnell Nurse (92), Maroon (87), Lucic (74), McDavid (71), Matt Benning (64), Draisaitl (60) and Kris Russell and Ryan Strome (55).

McDavid is on pace for a lower total than last season, as is Draisaitl, but missed shots are an issue for this group.

Russell, Nurse and Klefbom all missed the net on wide-open looks last night, and the Oilers D corps is missing the net too frequently.

A quick look at the NHL’s leaders in missed shots, you will see only five D-men in the top-20 — Brent Burns, Klefbom, Aaron Ekblad, Erik Karlsson and Zack Werenski. The rest are high volume shooting forwards, except for Dylan Larkin. He only has four goals and 71 shots, but he has 42 missed shots. Likely a main reason he only has four goals.

The Oilers defenders need to reduce their missed shots. I presume some of the misses are due to them shooting for a defection, but the group is still missing the net too frequently.


The Oilers played two solid games this weekend, but only skated away with two points. If they hadn’t waited until game 30 to have excellent back-to-back efforts, last night’s loss wouldn’t sting nearly as much. They aren’t out of the race yet, but they can’t afford many more games where they dominate the opposition everywhere but on the scoreboard.

Cam Talbot is on the trip and there were some rumblings he might be available for tomorrow’s game in Columbus. They can’t afford to rush him back, and with Laurent Brossoit stopping 44 of 47 shots (.936sv%) on the weekend, I wonder if they err on side of caution and give Talbot a few more days rest.

The Oilers need to cut down on their goals against, and they took some steps in the right direction this weekend. They eliminated the major mistake from their play and Toronto and Montreal generated very little constant pressure in the offensive zone. If the Oilers can continue to improve defensively they could get back in the race for the playoffs.

I’d send Anton Slepyshev to Bakersfield and get him playing. He is only 23 years young and sitting in the press box won’t help him. He doesn’t require waivers, so there is no fear of losing him. You could send him down now and recall him before Christmas. You could send him down Wednesday, get a few practice days in and then he could play four games in eight days between the 16th to 23rd. Use the no-waivers to your advantage and get him some ice time.


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    • DJ Petrin

      Ya that is my thought exactly. I do not mind a loss like that when they are in a playoff spot, and they do not come out flat against teams like buffalo and philly

  • DaveChamp

    Keep playing the way they played this weekend. They’ll find themselves back in it if they can muster that kind of domination each night.

    Also, get Letestu off the PP. Get Jesse on it. I like Letestu, he’s a good glue guy and I get that he has produced on the PP. I genuinely only think that’s because he plays that RH spot getting passes from McDavid and Draisaitl. If you had Puljajarvi in that spot with his shot and far better offensive instincts, there’d be more success on the PP.

  • This “missed shots” angle seems a bit off when the fact is that the team is putting more shots on the net.

    Look at Klefbom and the numbers presented here. According to this article last year he missed the net on 29.0% of his total shot attempts. This year he is on pace for 40 more shots on goal but he is missing on 31.9% and this is a big problem? We are talking about 10 shots missing the net in a season where he is hitting the net 40 more times.

    Pretending that missing the net is a major contributing issue when the team is actually hitting the net far more often too seems silly.

    • Magicaleigh

      Ya unless you look at thru %, these numbers are completely meaningless.

      Of the players mentioned above the following are within 2% of their thru percentage from last year: Maroon, Lucic, Russell

      The following are +2% or better : Draisaitl, Benning, Strome

      The following are -2% or worse: Klefbom, Mcdavid, Nurse

      Everyone is basically within 6% of what they did last year and the variance up or down is seemingly random. So maybe dig a bit deeper Jason?

      • Magicaleigh

        Wait what?

        Total Corsi events for 2017/18 =1940. Total shots on net = 1034. %on net is 53.3%
        Total Fenwick for 2017/18 = 1446. same shots on net. % on net is 71.5%

        Total Corsi events for 2016/17 = 4704 Total shots on net = 2547 % on net: 54.1%
        Total Fenwick for 2016/17 = 3504 same total shots on net. % on net: 72.6%

        All numbers from hockey-reference.com

        Come on Jason, this isn’t hard. The numbers are very close to last season and in all honesty don’t really mean anything in a vacuum. You’re using arbitrary endpoints as though they mean something and they absolutely do not. Its lazy and bad and not reflective of actual math.

        • Jason Gregor

          So because you don’t like the numbers from NHL.com, the actual shots taken and missed shots you call it arbitrary. Why? The Oilers are averaging 10% more shots on goal and they are averaging 18% more missed shots on goal. All the numbers are at nhl.com. Not sure why you claim they are arbitrary.

          You said everyone is within 6% and said that isn’t a big number. Well, in hockey 6% difference can be massive for a PP, or PK or SH%. So I’d it matters.

          • Magicaleigh

            I used the hockey-reference.com numbers because it includes blocked shots and gives a number that is easy to read and understand (thru%). I’m also not sure why you would want to exclude blocked shots from your analysis, since its a part of shooting the puck.

            Did you read what I actually posted about that 6%? I clearly stated that of the 9 players YOU posted, three hit the net more, three the same, and three less often. Its the entire reason I posted the team stats, which I think pretty clearly show that the rate of hitting the net (in terms of both corsi and fenwick events, one for all shots, one for only those unblocked) for the Oilers is virtually unchanged, unless you think that a .8%-1.1% change is significant over 30 games, which I don’t really think we can conclusively say.

            Arbitrary as in your arbitrary endpoints are pulling out numbers like 55 missed shots, as though its a number that matters. It doesn’t. Its just a number and it doesn’t mean a thing without any context as to why that’s a good number to settle on or not, and you haven’t provided any reasoning as to why any of your numbers actually matter.

      • I was only using the numbers you provided which clearly showed the team hitting the net more often despite missing a higher percentage. I assumed you chose strong examples to make your point?

        If I take 10 shots and 5 hit the net and the next year I take 20 shots and 8 hit the net then I hit the net more often despite the lower percentage did I not?

        • Jason Gregor

          So you hit 50% of your shots on goal one year, then the next year you hit 40%, (your example above) you claim that is hitting net more regularly. I don’t see it that way. They are getting more shots on goal, yes, but since they are missing net more often to me that is not hitting net more regularly. Hitting net more regularly would mean missed shots are down. You should be saying they are getting more shots on goal, but they aren’t hitting net more regularly since more shots are missing the net.

          • Magicaleigh

            Jason you can’t use raw numbers like this. Its selective math, its arbitrary and its wrong. You need to be using rate stats in order to look year to year. I posted the numbers above. There is virtually no change year over year. You’re making things up.

  • Clayton

    The biggest missed opportunity is not making a legitimate push for a Stanley Cup run before Captain Connor’s contract extension kicks in. Maybe someone should let Chia know you can’t carry unused cap space forward to next year!

        • BobbyCanuck

          things happen…in no particular order
          1) Slep/Cags/Strome/Poolparty/Player X: No one rose to grab the 1RW, 2RW
          2) Dria is not driving his own line
          3) D Men where supposed to go forward in their progression
          4) LB was supposed to be the competent second string goalie we are looking for
          5) Oilers were supposed to play with fire in the belly every game

        • Disappointed

          The Oil were suppose to be a shoe in for the playoffs, even without Eberles 20 goals. We all fan base and mgt thought that. The cap space was to be used for a rental or two at the trade deadline, you know, a sniper that will be UFA at the end of the season that can be had for lower draft picks but still fit nicely in our cap space in order to make a deep run in the playoffs.

          • OilersGM

            Speak for yourself. Not all fans thought that Caggiula, Slep, Strome and JP would set the world on fire, they hadn’t proven anything why depend on that.
            I’ve been saying from day one this year Chiarelli missed a huge opportunity in the offseason with the expansion draft to pick up depth on the wings and On D
            Players like Marchessault or Neal or Riley Smith. Players that have proven in the past and it wouldn’t have cost him much. I’ve heard from Lowetide for years now not all players progress in straight lines but Chiarelli didn’t know that he based on hope instead of getting something done.
            Having said all that I will never count a team out that has McDavid on it. Call me crazy but I still believe we will make the playoffs.

    • Winterkush

      What does that matter. Oilers where never good enough to make a push this year anyways.
      And who would they got and who would of signed here.
      Like the oilers where going to go from zero to hero in 2 years. Give your head a shake.

    • HOCKEY83

      All the Oil really need is a 3 or 4 game winning streak and they are right back in the mix along with all the other good teams fighting for a playoff spot. It really isn’t as big of a deal as everyone is making it out to be. It will happen. Have a little faith.

    • corky

      LB should be feeling good after the last two games. Give him one more and Talbot a little more time. No reason to just sit LB coming off a near shutout. Nothing to lose now.

    • OilersGM

      Everyone says his not producing but he has 21 points in 26 games very close to the pace he was on last year and have looked lot better in the last 2 games. I really think this team have turned the corner and once Drai and the team produce on the PP his numbers will look even better.
      Also now McDavid is over the flu he looked outstanding vs the leafs.

        • OilersGM

          His PP is 0 I know that but I know something wasn’t right with the team earlier in the season you could tell by the way they played and I’m not gonna say what was wrong exactly but it seams like they are over that and are playing like a team now. Draisaitl’s PP will come even though they didn’t score in T.O. I have to say he has looked better in that last few games you can see in the way he skates. I’m one of few that still believes I guess I could be crazy to think that but I don’t think I’m.

  • Disappointed

    Perhaps we should utilize “The Shooter Tutor” in practice. Gregor, do you think we could win if the other team used a shooter tutor, or would we still miss the net?

  • Natti_89

    Well it was good to at least effort last night. How many times are they coming out of the gate and finish sluggish? It definitely seemed like they had a fire beneath them and had some drive. Hopefully this continues and that effort will turn into some W’s

  • GarbageGoals

    Missed shots, goal posts, bad nights, bad goaltending, injuries…..one thing leads to another like a game of dominos. That’s all I see. Bad luck, leads to worse bad luck, leads to no energy, leads to losing. Losing while playing well, leads to more anger.

  • madjam

    Missed opportunities might partly explain why players show little net presence , anticipating shooter will miss the net target , so they go off to a side instead . That strategy not paying much dividends especially on Power Play .

    • madjam

      Are the Oilers are net blind – can’t see the white netting as it blends in with the ice ? Maybe league needs to consider changing color of the netting to enhance more scoring ?

  • yawto

    Question for you Jason. Bad as it is do you think that the inconsistency in Broissott has actually helped this team? I felt they were getting a bit to casual with Talbot knowing that he could steal them games. They are a little panicked with the kid back there and as such have been forced to tighten up the defensive side of the game. If Talbot can come back and play like Talbot then this team will go on quite a roll with performances like this weekends.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    Just keep playing the same way as the last few games and let the chips fall where they may. Keep working hard and play the right way and things will sort themselves out at least it is more fun to watch. Making the playoffs will not be easy if not impossible.