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 Oilers Home PK is 55.5%
That is ranked 1029/1029 in NHL history (since PK% has been tracked and calculated)
It’s 11.2% worse than the team ranked 1028/1029
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) January 3, 2018
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
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.