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Photo Credit: © John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes Sharks @ Oilers: Power Play Lows

The Edmonton Oilers had a powerplay for the final 1:53 of regulation last night, which turned into a six-on-four with 1:27 remaining when Cam Talbot was pulled for an extra skater. The Oilers managed a measly two shots attempts. Milan Lucic fired wide with :54 seconds remaining and Mike Smith stopped Connor McDavid’s shot with :26 seconds remaining.

With two extra skaters, the Oilers could only muster one shot on goal in 87 seconds. It was a perfect illustration of the struggles of their powerplay. I re-watched the man advantage and the Oilers made 13 passes before taking a shot. It is interesting if you look at the stats, the Oilers actually have a lot of shot attempts, 6th highest CF/60 at 111, but shots on goal are much different than blocked or wide.

The Oilers PP has been dreadful since game 21, and their inability to draw penalties isn’t helping their case.

1. The Oilers have a league-low 174 powerplay opportunities in 69 games. In the 2013 lockout shortened season (48 games) three teams had more PPs that year than the Oilers do now: New Jersey (176), Detroit (185) and Montreal (203). The Oilers will need to look at film and understand why they can’t get more than 2.5 power plays per game. I don’t buy for a second it is because the NHL officials don’t like them. There has to be more to it. The Colorado Avalanche lead the NHL with 257, Chicago is second with 245 and Calgary is third at 240. At the other end, the Oilers have 174, Anaheim 185 and Toronto has 188.

2. That is a mixture of young and old teams, east and west, and good and bad. The Oilers coaches need to study game film from this season of the Avs, Blackhawks and Flames and see what has led to them getting so many more power plays. It is interesting to note the Avs and Flames have been shorthanded the fourth and seventh most times this year, 239 and 236 respectively, so their games have more total penalties, and I thought maybe the officials even it out. But the Ducks have been penalized the third most, 242, but have the second fewest powerplays, while Chicago has the second most PP opportunities, but are 20th in times shorthanded. I don’t see any pattern to explain it.

3. The Ducks are -57 in PP/PK chances, while Edmonton is -35, Los Angeles -30, Dallas -28, Minnesota is -27, Washington is -24, Vancouver is -20 and Nashville is -16 to round out the top-eight. Nashville is first overall in the NHL standings, Wash is seventh, Minnesota is eighth, LA is 12th, Dallas is 13th, Anaheim is 15th, Edmonton is 25th and Vancouver is 30th. Again, I don’t see anything specific about teams, other than seven of the top-eight worst teams in PP/PK ratio play in the Western Conference. The teams with the best PP/PK ratio are Carolina +48 (21st in NHL standings) Chicago +41 (24th), Philadelphia +36 (14th), San Jose +26 (10th), Arizona +20 (30th), Colorado +18 (11th), Columbus +17 (18th) and Ottawa +13 (28th).

4. The Oilers need to find a way to generate more powerplays. They are on pace to become only the second team in NHL history (since PP chances were tracked in 1977/1978) to have less than 200 powerplays in a full season. The 1978 Atlanta Flames had 191, while the 1978 Chicago Blackhawks had 205, the 1980 Hartford Whalers had 215, the 1980 Flames had 216 and the 1978 Philadelphia Flyers had 216.

5. They will also likely finish in the bottom-five fewest PP goals in a full NHL season. The 2014 Florida Panthers scored 27 goals on 269 chances (10% PP efficiency). The 2015 Buffalo Sabres had 30 goals on 224 chances (13.4%), the 2017 Avalanche had 30 goals on 239 chances (12.6%) and the 2017 Vancouver Canucks scored 32 goals on 227 opportunities (14.1%). The Oilers have 26 goals on 174 chances so far (14.9%). Their 14.9% efficiency is currently 148th worst out of 1,029 PP teams since 1978. It isn’t very good.

6. Historically we have seen some of the worst PP teams in the past five years, but we’ve also seen some of the best. In 2013 the Capitals PP was 26.8%, 17th best in history and this year the Pittsburgh Penguins are currently 25.9% with 58 goals on 224 chances. They have 32 more PP goals than the Oilers this season. The Penguins powerplay is what drives them, not their mythical three scoring lines. The Oilers have more 5×5 goals than the Penguins.

7. The Oilers PP system hasn’t worked. They’ve tried different formations — Leon Draisaitl is back on the left side more — but they still aren’t having much success. Three or four games isn’t a success. I need to see a longer time frame before I say their PP has turned the corner. They aren’t shooting as much. In their past 14 games, McDavid has played 34:29 of PP time and with him on the ice they have taken 27 shots. Eight of them came in one game versus Carolina (5:49 of PP time), so in the other 28 minutes they have had 19 shots on goal. That simply isn’t good enough. They have 27 shots on goal, but have missed the net 21 times. I can’t simply blame the coaches when the players are missing the net almost as often as hitting it, but at the very least I would like the coaches to set up a situation that results in two quick passes, and then attack the net with a shot and hopefully create some chaos among the penalty killers.

8. If McDavid doesn’t win the scoring race it will be due to a lack of powerplay points. Here are the top-15 scorers in the NHL with their PP TOI, PP points, PPP/60 and total points.

Player            PP TIME        PP Pts     PPP/60         Total points
Kucherov      243 min         32            8.02                90
Malkin           243                33            8.15               87
McDavid       202                 16            4.89               84
MacKinnon   221                 28           7.70                 82
Giroux           254                32            7.10                 82
Stamkos        249                32            7.86                82
Gaudreau      260               24             5.37                80
Kessel            266               36            7.92                78
Wheeler        222               36             9.50                77
Crosby          257               34             7.49                76
Kopitar         200               23              6.41                76
Voracek        253               33             7.37                 75
Ovechkin      286               26             5.55                 74
Hall                183               27              8.62                74
Marchand     169               18              6.40                 72

McDavid has the fewest PP points and the worst P/60. The Oilers PP needs to improve and with McDavid touching the puck the most they need to devise a strategy that works for him, and he needs to become more assertive on the PP. He has 32 powerplay shots in 202 PP minutes and last season he had 35 shots in 248. He is shooting a bit more, but as we see him evolve I suspect you will see him shoot even more on the PP like he has in the past 20 games at even strength.

9. Evander Kane has played six games for the Sharks since being acquired from Buffalo. He has 1-5-6 in six games and the Sharks are 4-2. All six games were at home and tonight is their first of a three games in four-night trip to Edmonton, Calgary (Friday) and Vancouver (Saturday). The Sharks sit second in the Pacific with 83 points, one up on Los Angeles, two up on Anaheim and three up on Calgary. The Sharks, like the Flames last night, are in a battle for their playoff lives.

10. The Sharks signed 20-year-old free agent Jayden Halbgewachs in late December. He is a smaller forward, 5’8″ and 165 pounds, but he can score. He has 68 goals in 70 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors this season. If he can score two goals this weekend he will become the first player to score 70 in the WHL since Pavel Brendl had 73 in 1999 with the Calgary Hitmen. Halbgewachs will need to get stronger and quicker, and move the puck to his teammates more to play in the NHL, but he is an electrifying scorer in junior and it was a good bet by the Sharks to sign him.

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Source:  Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 03/14/2018 – 12:00 pm MST

  • Spydyr

    So it being back to back games does Montoya get the start triggering the fourth round pick instead of the fifth round pick. It is not much but why move a pick back 31 spots for no reason? One of the AHL goalies should be getting another look or even bring one up for some games then another.

    It is nonsensical moves like this that make you frustrated as a fan.

    • The Whispererer

      I have seen in two different places that a “game” in Montoya’s case only counts towards the pick if he has at least 30 minutes of playing time. By that measure he still has one free spot on the Bingo card because he has played 30 minutes in just 5 of his 6 appearances.

    • Kr55

      The good news is, players will play if they say they want to. Klef said he wants to play 1 week before a season ending surgery, so he plays. All we have to do is ask Talbot if he wants to play. If he says yes, he plays. Easy peasy.

    • Jason Gregor

      You are frustrated for no reason. Tonight’s start won’t kick in the draft pick. It is seven appearances but they have to be 30 minutes each. Tonight is his 6th appearance so it won’t kick in.

      And secondly losing a 5th or a 4th isn’t a big deal. History shows us the difference between a 5th or a 4th panning out is about, on average, 2%. Montoya is signed for next year, and will be with the organization. Right now their AHL goalies aren’t as good, so why would you bring up a worse goalie, to decrease chances of winning and showing players you don’t care about winning, all so you can have a 4th rounder instead of a 5th which isn’t really much different.

      You have many reasons to be frustrated with the Oilers, but I don’t see this as one to be frustrated about.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Agreed but I think if they manage to hit the net on shots taken 4 feet from the net they will find enough success to win. Seemed like they had a ton of good slot chances last night the just kept missing the net.

  • Jimmer

    It would be interesting to see what % of penalties are drawn by position. My theory is that our “team” number is low because we have slow wingers…which in turn…do not generate the hooking and holding type penalties that faster teams do.

  • BingBong

    How is it possible that we have the fastest player OF ALL TIME, and yet are on pace to draw the least amount of penalties in the last 40 years?
    Just watching last night, I noticed 4 or 5 times when McDavid was basically tackled, and no call. I’m not sure what more you want him to do to draw calls? Just based on his speed and puck handling alone he should be drawing the highest number of penalties in the league. It’s ridiculous. Remember when the league said they would clamp down on slashing/hooking this year? Ha, good one.

  • Kr55

    Carlyle planted the seed last playoffs about the Oilers and McDavid getting favouritism from refs. Our coach and our org never responded and we have been getting the short end ever since.

    Refs are like anyone else, their thought process can be influenced by outside ideas and comments. Almost every team in the league puts in time trying to work refs, except it seems our coach who just sits there and smiles and refuses to say anything after games when it’s clear his team was robbed, or after a night of seeing McDavid get tackled with no calls. Just refuses to talk about it and lets his players take the heat and fines when they occasionally blow up in frustration.

    It means less though after the fact of course, and especially from players. That is no way to try to work the refs in the end, it just looks like sour grapes. The best coaches and orgs are planting the seeds beforehand. Carlyle won the 2nd round last year partly because of that. We have none of that coming from this org.

  • Neumann

    JG – Any explanation as to why McDavid led the league in penalties drawn last year and isn’t doing so again this year? His scoring is the same, he looks faster and better. Heard anything from refs on your show or coaches?

    • Jason Gregor

      Nope. It doesn’t make much sense. He drew 51 penalties last year and has drawn 30 so far this season. Even if he was on same pace, he’d be at 43 right now. And Oilers would only be at 187, so still as a team not generating many. It is odd to see McDavid down 13 penalties at this point, when his speed and attacking ability has increased from last year.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Drai is a great offensive talent…but maybe he is not that great on the PP at this point. He sliws everything down and seems to overthink what to do. He also sets up at tpo severe an angle for his one-timer. See OV for the proper set-up spot. So Drai, and the rest of tge PP guys need to make a couple passes and then shoot the damn puck. We also need to stay in front of the net for the garbage goals…not just coast on through. I also notice sometimes we have a good shot possibility early in the PP but they keep passing it looking for an even better shot opp. The best chances come after a shot on net as thats when the D starts to scramble. The puck needs to ve put at the net, we need guys in front of the net and aggresively in front of the net. Be hungry…don’t just take up space.

  • Rama Lama

    The problem is a simple one to fix and I know that I will be scorned for this belief. Our major PP problem is that we have management and coaching that does not see the problem for what it is…….no one on the first PP unit has the instincts to shoot. They all seem to think that the goal of the PP is to defer the puck to Mcdavid at all costs.

    As the great one said……100 percent of shots not take result in no goals!! Or something to that effect!