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Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers’ penalty kill is historically bad

The Oilers penalty kill is awful. NHL.com has stats back to 1978, the Oilers’ penalty kill ranks 1023rd out of 1029 teams at 70.8%. It’s dead last in the league this year, and only the New York Islanders are close at 74.6%.

The penalty kill wasn’t great last year, but it wasn’t hurting them like it is now. The Oilers finished 17th killing 80.7% of their penalties. Their penalty kill played a huge part in their loss to the Kings Tuesday. Three goals on a five-minute major and the game was done. I’m not a big fan of home/road split stats, but the Oilers home penalty kill percentage is pretty hilarious at 55%. That’s 11 percentage points below the next closest team, the 1977-78 Washington Capitals who lost 49 games.

The strange part is that the personnel isn’t that different than last year.

Ordered by total SH TOI 2016-17 and 2017-18

2016-2017 2017-2018
Letestu Nurse
Sekera Letestu
Russell Larsson
RNH Klefbom
Klefbom Russell
Larsson RNH
Pouliot Kassian
Kassian McDavid
McDavid Khaira
Hendricks Gryba
Gryba Pakarinen
Nurse Caggiula
Benning Benning
Lander Draisaitl
Caggiula Davidson
Draisaitl
Davidson

Nurse rockets up the list, partly because Sekera’s injury and Nurse missing games himself last year, but he’s averaging a minute more on the penalty kill per game. Adam Larsson’s seen a similar increase in shorthanded ice time. Zack Kassian has an increased role.

Benoit Pouliot and Matt Hendricks are gone and both played significant minutes shorthanded. The penalty kill wasn’t great with them, but Pouliot’s speed was an asset. This year’s team lacks penalty-killing forwards. Only four of Edmonton’s top nine forwards in even strength TOI/GP kill penalties, and three of them are Edmonton’s top three centers. Drake Caggiula is their lone top-nine winger that penalty kills.

Edmonton takes a lot of penalties. All of Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Larsson, and Eric Gryba take more penalties than they draw.

Micah Blake McCurdy’s (@IneffectiveMath) heat maps for unblocked shot rates while team’s are shorthanded show why Edmonton’s penalty kill is so bad despite not allowing a ton of shot attempts.

The Oilers allow an incredible amount of shots around and in front of the net relative to league average, but defend the points and the top half of the ice well.  Shots will go in more when they’re so close to the net. Fans love point shots, especially with the man advantage, but they aren’t as dangerous as those chances in tight.

The penalty kill needs to improve. Playoffs are probably out of reach at this point, but they can still build off this year and find a forward or two that can play shorthanded. Firing an assistant coach is unlikely, so they’ll need to change their tactics or players.

  • Hemmercules

    The team isn’t clearing pucks and players from in front of their net on the PK nearly as much as last year. On the other side of the rink they get plenty of shots but no traffic. Its weird how a team of mostly the same guys can look so different from one year to the next. I haven’t been overly happy with the coaching this season and I feel like a change could help the entire team.

  • Ty Guy

    It is pretty sad how hemmed in we get every shift. If we don’t score on the miracle McDavid rush the puck is out faster than it came in 99% of the time. Some sustained offensive pressure would sure be nice to see…along with a Drai PP goal…WTF?!? 0 PP goals for an 8.5 mil guy? Maybe he should be a starter on a Karlsson talk?

  • camdog

    Oilers are on pace 33 points at home. During decade of darkness worst point total was 29. I didn’t go back to 90’s but if the trends continue this would be one of the worst Oiler seasons on record on home ice. I knew there were problems after game 3, but a complete and utter collapse on home ice, well I didn’t see this coming.

  • WhoreableGuy

    Sooo…Chia is most likely going to extend T-Mac and company while K-Lowe, Mac-T and Bobby Nick all dance in one of the executive suites?

    Why did typing out all of their nicknames piss me off so much?

  • Heschultzhescores

    I would go one step further. Missing the playoffs 11 years out of 12 must be closing in on an all-time record as well. If we only didn’t blow it last year and make the playoffs we could have been all by ourselves at the top of the list.

  • Connor McJesus

    You’d think there’d be some change on a team that sets record lows – So far the team hasn’t change a bit other than trading for Cammy and claiming Davidson. I would have thought Chia do something by now if not Nicholson changing Chia up.

      • Heschultzhescores

        Give US hope. Not Up hope, though that makes more sense given the team this year. I’m sure the edit button is easier to fix than the Oilers, maybe if we fix the edit button that’s all the Oilers needed to turn the season around.