Game Notes Oilers @ Canucks: Just Win

The Edmonton Oilers can give themselves a wonderful early Christmas present tonight if they can defeat the Vancouver Canucks — ideally, in regulation. The Pacific Division is very tight, and a regulation win would put Edmonton six points up on Vancouver. That is much more appealing than losing and having only a two-point cushion. Tonight is a massive game for the Oilers, and so far this season they have performed well against Pacific rivals going 8-3-1.

1. Edmonton hasn’t won consecutive games since November 23rd and 24th when they won in Vegas and Arizona. They are 4-8-1 since and even a modest two-game winning streak would be a boon to their confidence.

2. The Oilers are 2-1 against the Canucks this season. They won 3-2 on opening night in Edmonton and by the same score in Vancouver on December 1st. The Canucks defeated the Oilers in Edmonton on November 30th 5-2. This is their final meeting of the season. Odd schedule this year where the Oilers and Canucks season series ends on December 23rd, and when Edmonton returns from the Christmas break they will meet Calgary for the first time this season.

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3. I dug into some offensive numbers of the Oilers via Sport Logic and a few really stood out to me. (Green is top-five in league, and red is bottom-five). The Oilers are quite good at having offensive zone possession, but it isn’t transferring to goals. Let’s look a few reasons why.

4. Edmonton is 30th in even strength shot attempts at 53.7/game. The league median (med) is 58.7, while Montreal is first at 69.5. The Canucks are 12th at 60.7. Not surprisingly the Oilers are 28th in EV goals scored at 2.30/game. The league med. is 2.64, while Nashville is the best in the NHL at 3.35. The Canucks sit 21st at 2.48.

5. The odd thing is the Oilers are actually quite good at EV offensive zone (OZ) possession. They are fifth at 5:56/game. League med is 5:34, St. Louis is tops at 6:35 and the Canucks are 11th at 5.51.
The Oilers are 12th in offensive zone dump-ins recovered at 36.2%.
They are 1st in the NHL (71.5%) at pressure OZ dump ins without opposition exit. League med. is 66%.
They are ninth at controlled entries into the OZ at 56.2%.
They are good at getting in the zone, top five at possessing the puck, but they don’t put enough pucks on goal.

6. The one weakness they have in the OZ is shot attempts recovered.
They are 30th at 47.9%. The league med is 51%, Canucks are 20th at 49.9%.
The Oilers are 29th in OZ contested loose puck recovery win at 26.2% (league med is 30.1%) and Canucks are 25th at 26.5%.
I see a direct correlation in their inability to recover pucks or win a few more battles to why they have low shot attempt totals. Puck retrievals need to improve.

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7. The Oilers have the same problem in the D-zone. They are 29th in contested loose puck recovery win at 30.3%. The Canucks are 27th at 31.3%, so both of these teams are near the bottom when it comes to winning contested battles in the offensive and defensive zones. My first inclination is to say there is a need for more desire on those battles, but that might be too simple. I will need to look into more, but it is something to watch moving forward.

8. Limiting scoring chances against is obviously huge in hockey. The Oilers are actually pretty competitive in all but one of these EV situations.

Shot attempts from the slot: They are 10th at 20.4/game. League avg. is 21.3 and Canucks are 27th at 23.1.
Shots on net from the slot: They are 12th at 12.3/game. League med is 12.7. Canucks are 24th at 13.6. The Oilers offence needs to take advantage of the slot tonight.
Percentage of opposition shot attempts blocked: 16th at 28.4%, same as league average and the Canucks are 17th at 28.2%.
Shots on net from the slot off the cycle: Oilers are 28th at 4.55/game, while Vancouver is 27th at 4.40. Both teams struggle losing not only the battle off the cycle, but then D zone coverage in the slot.
Shots on net from the slot off the rush: Oilers are 10th at 3.84/game, while the Canucks are 25th at 4.46. Edmonton is good at not letting teams to the inside off the rush. But Vancouver struggles at it and McDavid and Draisaitl should be looking to attack the slot area off of the rush tonight.
Shots on net from slot off the forecheck: Edmonton is 11th at 1.44/game.  The Canucks are 21st at 1.71.
Odd man rushes against: Oilers are 12th at 3.63, while the Canucks are 27th at 4.26 (league avg is 3.75).
DZ faceoffs lost resulting in a shot against: Oilers are 11th at 21.1%, while Vancouver is 30th at 29%.
DZ faceoffs lost resulting in a shot against from the slot: Edmonton is second at 12%, while the Canucks are 28th at 17%.

9. Another area the Oilers are quite efficient is ES zone exits from the D zone to the neutral zone. They are fourth best in the NHL at 79.8%, although the gap in this stat isn’t much. The Canucks sit 21st at 78.4%.

10. One stat that hasn’t hurt the Oilers yet, but might is their inability to win faceoffs on the PK. They are 30th in Dzone faceoff wins at 33.9%. It is a main reason they are 31st in %DZ zone time at 67.1%. The league average is 63.5% and the Canucks also struggle sitting 29th at 66.4%.

11. Here is the Oilers scoring last year compared to this season, as well as the Canucks scoring, through 39 games.

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2018/19 79 (174) 17 (55) 14 (69)
EDMONTON 78 (188) 25 (58) 10 (66)
VANCOUVER 63 (155) 37 (91) 12 (77)

12. After a very slow start with only two goals in the first 14 games, the Oilers depth forwards have scored 23 goals in the past 25 games. Not elite, but respectable and it would put them on pace for 75 goals. They could use a bit more production, and we’ll see if the recent run by Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald will continue for a few more games.

13. In October the Oilers’ depth forwards had a combined 2.1 SH%. Incredible. They had two goals on 98 shots in 14 games. Since November first they have scored 23 goals on 218 shots (10.5 SH%). They were averaging seven shots/game in October and have increased that to 8.7. Better, but you’d still like to see a bit more rubber on goal from the depth forwards.

14. The Oilers top-five scorers (McDavid, Draisaitl, Neal, Kassian and RNH) had a combined 18.3 SH% in October with 33 goals on 181 shots in 14 games. Since November they have 45 goals on 294 shots (15.5SH%). They averaged 12.9 shots/game in October and have 11.76 since November first.

15. Looking at the top five scorers, McDavid averaged 3.0 shots/game in October and 3.24 since.
Draisaitl had 3.5 shots/game in October and 2.88 since.
Neal had 3.0 in October, but only 1.88 since.
Kassian had only 1.21 in October, but he has fired 2.09 in November and December.
RNH averaged 2.21 shots/game in October, and he has fired 2.52/game since.


Thanks to Mike for the great bid on the Grand Villa Casino Party and to Wasif and Nolan for their bids on the tickets. Today is the final day of Month of Giving.

DAY 16: Loge Seats with Dave Lumley

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  • You and two friends will watch the Oilers/Sharks game on February 6th in Loge Seats courtesy of ServPro Restoration Southside.
  • Dinner and drinks are on Lummer
  • You will also visit the Oilers Alumni room (never know who you might meet in there).

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 between 2-6 p.m. today and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260. Proceeds will help the MS Society and Alzheimers Society.

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