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Edmonton Oilers 2020-21 Season In Review: the special teams

Welcome to the season in review! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2020-21 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.

One of the biggest reasons the Oilers had the success they did this can be directly tied back to their strong special teams. For the second year in a row, the Edmonton Oilers placed at the top of the league on the powerplay.

It operated at an impressive 29.5 percent clip, the best in the league by a full two percent. Edmonton generated the fifth powerplay most shot attempts per hour this year with 105.36. While they scored 10.54 goals for per hour, the most in the league, it’s supported with strong expected goals for per hour numbers too. An 8.06 there was the highest in the league.

Points-wise, none other than Connor McDavid crushed the league. He scored 37 points on the powerplay — nine goals and 28 assists — as teammate Leon Draisaitl wasn’t far behind with 32 points of his own.

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Tyson Barrie was a big part of it, too, scoring 23 points there.

On the penalty kill, Edmonton was strong, too. They killed 82.5 percent of the penalties they took, good enough for ninth-best in the league.

Edmonton did a very poor job of suppressing shot attempts allowing 103.82 against per hour. The Oilers loved to funnel shots to certain places on the ice and their 6.16 goals against per hour was 10th best in the league.

One of the biggest reasons Edmonton’s powerplay was so strong was in thanks to their goaltending. On the penalty kill, the Oilers had a team save percentage of .889, the third-best in the league.

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Among goalies who played over 100 penalty kill minutes this year, Mike Smith posted the third-best save percentage (.906) while Mikko Koskinen had the 10th best (.880).

One of the Oilers best PKers was Gaetan Haas, who signed a deal in the Swiss League after this past campaign. He posted a 3.9 GA/60 on the penalty kill in the 34 games he played placing him ninth among forwards who played over 60 minutes on the PK this season. The Oilers will need to find a replace some of those minutes next season.

There’s one change I would like to see in all of this heading into next year, however: get Jesse Puljujarvi more powerplay time. While he had the fifth-most minutes there among Oilers forwards, the other four in front of him rarely came off the ice.

He played just over a minute per game there this year, but I think he has the right skill set to become a strong net-front presence there in the future.

Nonetheless, the Oilers will look to continue their strong streak of special teams performances next year.


Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]

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