Game Notes Oilers @ Blackhawks: Chasing Special Teams History

The Edmonton Oilers have scored on 29.9% of their powerplays. That is the highest success rate since the 1979 New York Islanders’ PP was 31.1%. In 1978 the Islanders were 31.4%, while the 1978 Montreal Canadiens set the NHL record at 31.9% scoring 73 goals on 229 opportunities.

The NHL didn’t officially calculate powerplay and penalty percentages until the 1977/1978 season, so maybe an earlier team was better, but officially the 1978 Canadiens hold the record.

1. It will be difficult for the Oilers to break the powerplay record, but you can’t rule it out considering how good it has been all season. Only once this year have the Oilers gone more than two games without a powerplay goal. Their PP was goalless for four games between October 18th to October 24th, when they went 0-for-8.

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2. They’ve gone without a PP goal in two consecutive games on five other occasions. They have scored a PP goal in 42 of their 67 games, which is 62.6%. They’ve scored four goals once, three PP goals twice, scored two in 12 games and one PP goal in 28 games. They’ve been incredibly consistent from October to February. Their PP% by month has been 29.3%, 32.4%, 29.4%, 25% and 28.9%. In two games this March they are 50%.

3. The Oilers lead the NHL with 59 powerplay goals, despite sitting 17th in PP opportunities at 197. However, it isn’t a surprise that the best PP team isn’t leading in PP chances. The 1978 Canadiens and Islanders were first and second in PP%, but they were 14th and 15th in PP chances in the 18-team league. Over the past five seasons only the Islanders, Ducks and Blue Jackets have had fewer combined PP chances.

4. The Oilers franchise’s best season on the PP was in 1983 when they were 29.3%, which is tied for fourth-best all time in the NHL. They were 26.3% in 1986, 25.7% in 1985, 25.6% in 1982 and 25.5% in 1984. They could set a new record this season, and it isn’t a complete shock considering the main guys on their PP were here in 2017 when they were 22.9%. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are the catalysts, while Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, James Neal and Alex Chiasson rotate in on the blueline and net-front presence.

5. Draisaitl leads the NHL with 44 PP points while McDavid has 43. Gretzky is the only player in franchise history with 48+ powerplay points in a season. He’s had 49, 53, 54, 54 and 57. Both Draisaitl and McDavid could join him in the 50-point club. The last players in the NHL to score 50+ powerplay points were Joe Thornton (54) and Sidney Crosby (61) in 2007. The Penguins had 463 PP chances while Thornton’s Sharks had 410. The Oilers have had 197 and are on pace for 241. Crosby had 461 minutes on the PP and Thornton had 411. Draisaitl has been on for 266 and McDavid 243. They are on pace for 325 and 302 minutes respectively, but both should reach 50 PP points easily. Impressive.

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6. While the powerplay gets a lot of attention, as it should, the Oilers’ penalty kill has also been very good. They are second in the NHL at 84.4%. The Oilers could set an NHL record for the best combined special teams. Their combined PP and PK% is 114.3.  Only the 1978 Islanders were better at 114.9%. Here are the top combined special teams in NHL history:

1978 Islanders at 114.9. Their PP was 31.4% and PK was 83.5%
2019 Lightning at 113.2%. PP was 28.2% and PK was 85%.
1978 Canadiens at 112.9%. PP was 31.9% and PK was 81%.
1979 Canadiens at 111.9%.  PP was 28.3% and PK was 83.6%.
1979 Islanders at 111.3%. PP was 31.1% and PK was 80.2%.

The Oilers have a legitimate shot to be in the top five, and potentially set a new NHL record for best combined special teams.

7. The top all-time penalty kills are:

2012 New Jersey Devils at 89.6%. Allowed 27 goals on 259 kills.
2000 Dallas Stars at 89.3%. Allowed 33 goals on 307 kills.
1998 Washington Capitals at 89.2% allowing 39 goals on 362 kills.
1999 Boston Bruins at 89.2% allowing 33 goals on 305 kills.
2012 Montreal Canadiens at 88.6% allowing 36 goals on 315 kills.

8. Mike Smith is fifth in the NHL with a .914Sv% on the PK and Mikko Koskinen is sixth with a .901Sv%. As a team they are second in the NHL at .907Sv%. Your goalies have to be good for your PK to have a chance, but a main reason for their PK success is they are second in the NHL preventing middle ice passes via Sports Logiq. They are not getting exposed in the middle like they were in previous seasons.

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9. Because of Draisaitl, McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins’ skill set, I expect the Oilers’ PP to be top-five for the foreseeable future. Penalty kills seem to fluctuate more from year to year, but this season the PK has been excellent and is one reason the Oilers enter tonight in second place in the Pacific with a legitimate chance to win their division for the first time since 1987.

10. Here is the Oilers’ scoring last year compared to this season, though 67 games, as well as the Blackhawks’ scoring.

2018/2019 126-159-285 38-63-101 23-87-110
EDMONTON 129-192-321 62-73-135 21-96-117
CHICAGO 111-142-253 59-97-156 27-93-120

13. The Blackhawks have some dangerous weapons. Patrick Kane is still an elite scorer, while rookie Dominik Kubalik is tied for the team lead, with Kane, at 29 goals. The Hawks are 18th in goals/game and 22nd in goals against/game. Their powerplay has been awful at 15.1% (28th) while their PK is very respectable at 82.4% (seventh).

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