This is the Oilers Morning Report, a stats-heavy, opinion-based review of the previous night’s game. We’ve all read the wrap-ups, watched the highlights, and digested the game. Whether it’s gazing to the heavens, begging the Hockey Gods for answers as to why the Edmonton Oilers lost, or looking for more content to bask in the glory of another Oilers victory, that’s what this is here for.
Here is the review for the @Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday 5 March.
All attempts are at 5v5.
Corsi (CF, CA) is the volume of attempts towards the net (goals, shots on net, misses, blocks); CF% is share of attempts for the team.
Scoring Chances (SCF) are shot attempts with a value of 2 or higher (from the green- 3 and/or pink- 2 area or off a rebound or a rush).
High Danger Chances (HDCF-CA) are shot attempts with a value of 3 or higher.
Expected Goals (xGF%) is based off of combination of shot attempts, shot quality (Low/Medium/High Danger), and shooting percentage (both team and individual).
A more comprehensive explanation can be found at naturalstattrick.com
Save for a decent flurry after their lone powerplay attempt just over halfway through the first period, the Oilers had a bad first period and and even worse second period. They fell behind mightily after two periods, forcing Mike Smith to be pulled before they turned it around and dominated in the third period.
Despite the poor start to the game, the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto line had relatively solid possession numbers, with the NHL’s leading goal-scorer Draisaitl leading the way. He saw a lot of Connor Murphy (9:00 of his 15:49 5v5 TOI) who did a decent job defending him, but Draisaitl still managed to finish the game with a 59.26 CF%, 66.67 SCF%, 4-0 HDCF, and 73.88 xGF%.
The Oilers’ D-corps was savaged, though. Not one of the six had a CF% of over 50.00 (Caleb Jones led the group with exactly 50.00), though three of them finished with a xGF% of over 50.00, which is slightly more encouraging (Ethan Bear 51.38; Matthew Benning 56.73; Kris Russell 62.91)
Mikko Koskinen was solid in relief of Mike Smith, not allowing a single of the ten 5v5 shots he faced to get past him, which included 3 High Danger and 4 Medium Danger chances.
Andreas Athanasiou has had a tough go so far since his first game as an Oiler against the Anaheim Ducks. He and other newcomer Tyler Ennis were immediately placed on the top line with Connor McDavid, where he recored a goal and an assist, but since then he’s floated up and down the line-up. He started the game on the fourth line, but after the team began to really struggle he was moved back up to play with McDavid and the two seemed to have decent chemistry once they were put back together. In fact, he helped raise McDavid’s game back when he was on his line; they played 7:13 5v5 minutes together, raising McDavid’s CF% from 30.00 to 40.00 and xGF% from 18.88 to 26.58.
It’s a loss, but it’s still four points out of a roadtrip that was three games in four days; at this time of year every point matters, but the Oilers showed resilience against a Blackhawks team that is still motivated to fight for a playoff spot.
It seems as though that Tippett is still trying to find the right line chemistry– outside of the second line– as a combination of new acquisitions Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis and injured/suspended players in James Neal, Zack Kassian, and Yamamoto work their way back into the lineup. Personally, I think it’ll be worth starting Athanasiou on McDavid’s line in the next game, either with James Neal or Ennis, just to give the former Red Wing a chance to find his scoring touch again (he rang a beautiful opportunity off the post minutes into the third period).
It was an ugly game that nearly turned into a gutsy comeback, but as I had mentioned in the last Report, Corey Crawford’s had a sneaky good season and once the Oilers fell behind, it was just too difficult for them to get back into. Still, the game the Oilers played in the third period is closer to what this team is than what they were early in the game, so getting back on track shouldn’t be an issue.
On to: Columbus.
What to Expect:
|CF%||SCF%||HDCF%||xGF%||Goals/60||Road PP%||Road PK%||SH%||SV%|
|48.89 (20th)||49.62 (18th)||50.25 (17th)||51.59 (9th)||2.19 (28th)||15.7 (24th)||77.5 (23rd)||6.91 (28th)||.929 (5th)|
The Columbus Blue Jackets are still fighting for a playoff spot themselves, so it isn’t an easy out for the Oilers as they come home from the road. The Blue Jackets are actually similar to the Blackhawks, in that their offence isn’t anything to really write home about, their special teams are unspectacular, but they’ve had some solid goaltending that has unexpectedly kept them in the playoff race. They edge teams in the High Danger area despite barely generating offence there, but they do so by doing a greater job of minimising the chances against.
The Oilers’ offence can take advantage of what the Blue Jackets’ defence allows, they just need to get off to a better job of getting off to a better start than they did in Chicago. It might be worth starting Mikko Koskinen over Smith, too as the Finn has a HDGSAA of 3.64, with Smith’s is fourth-worst (with goaltenders playing a minimum of 1000 5v5 mins played) of -9.02.
The Oilers also have a vast advantage as far as special teams go, but as they learned against the Blackhawks they can’t rely on that to earn wins.