Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

2021-22 Edmonton Oilers in Seven part two: Cracks start to show in Oilers foundation

Welcome to year three of the Oilers in Seven series. I kick-started this series a few years ago to break down the Oilers in a smaller sample size. I chose seven games based on the size of a playoff series. 

We are back! For the first time this year, we’ll be diving into the Oilers In Seven. As noted above, this is a series I kicked up a few years ago to look at the Oilers in smaller sets. While still a relatively small sample size in the big picture, seven games reflect a playoff series — something the Oilers will be looking to win a few of this year.

The Numbers

Games 1-7: 6-1, .857 points %
Games 8-14: 5-2, .714 points %

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Season: 11-3, .786%

Games 1-7:
PP% – 47.8, 1st
PK% – 90.0, 3rd

Games 8-14:
PP% — 35, 3rd
PK% — 86.4, 12th

PP% — 41.9, 1st
PK% — 88.1, 2nd

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CF% 49.61 — 17th 51.53 — 13th 50.53 — 17th
GF% 48.15 — 18th 52.5 — 12th 50.75 — 15th
xGF% 52.23 — 12th 46.35 — 25th 49.23 — 19th
GF/60 2.31 — 15th 3.71 — 1st 3.01 — 2nd
GA/60 2.49 — 24th 3.36 — 30th 2.93 — 30th
Team SH% 7.39 — 15th 12.35 — 1st 9.83 — 2nd
Team SV% 92.63 — 17th 89.2 — 30th 90.98 — 27th
PDO 100 — 16th 101.6 — 9th 100.8 — 12th

All Situations

CF% 49.70 — 16th 52.91 — 11th 51.20 — 14th
GF% 59.57 — 6th 56.60 — 10th 58.00 — 5th
xGF% 57.41 — 1st 49.39 — 18th 53.47 — 6th
GF/60 3.95 — 4th 4.25 — 1st 4.1 — 1st
GA/60 2.68 — 11th 3.26 — 22nd 2.97 — 18th
Team SH% 11.72 — 7th 13.64 — 2nd 12.64 — 1st
Team SV% 92.46 — 8th 89.40 — 23rd 91.04 — 14th
PDO 104.2 — 4th 103 — 7th 103.7 — 1st

Stats via Natural Stat Trick, glossary with definitions here.

Player Stats

Stats via Hockey Reference 

What it all means

After a rock-solid start to the year, there are some cracks in the foundation that are beginning to show for this Edmonton Oilers club. The main area of concern comes with the Oilers play at 5×5. While their 5×5 scoring now ranks right at the top of the league, their 5×5 defensive play has been… not good.

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Edmonton gave up tons defensively at 5×5 these past seven games, and head coach Dave Tippett knows it.

“I’m always upset about the chances we give up, but our special teams has been pretty good,” said Tippett after Sunday’s win over the St. Louis Blues. “Our five on five scoring, I think we’re top three in the league. Our five-on-five goals against is not where it needs to be. There’s some defending issues we’ve got to dig into.

“We’ve got to be much harder in front of the net. Mikko was excellent tonight, but there’s a few I’m sure he’d like to have back. There’s a few things there. Keeping the goals against down is where we need to clean up, it’s our biggest improvement needed and we’ll continue to work on it.

The good news, however, is that the Oilers continue scoring at an incredible rate. With the team shooting percentage at the top of the league, statistically, it’s likely to drop a bit at some point. But in the same breath, the Oilers have the two best offensive players in the league in their top six, and on their powerplay.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are literal game-breakers are will continue to inflate the team’s shooting percentage. Given the incredible scoring pace their on, we may actually see the Oilers sh% stay around the 12 percent mark.

Edmonton’s special teams continue to be a massive part of their game. While their powerplay continues to put up record-breaking numbers, their penalty kill has been elite too.

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In net, Mikko Koskinen has held his own keeping the Oilers heads above water. Despite some shaky goals against, Koskinen has made massive saves that has helped keep Edmonton in games. Stuart Skinner has had two starts over this time, and unfortunately the team hasn’t played well enough in front of him to snag a win.

Evan Bouchard has slid up to the top pair alongside Darnell Nurse and has looked tremendous doing so. He paces all full-time Oilers defencemen in 5×5 shot attempt share, goals percentage, goals against per hour, and shot attempts against per hour. He’s been nothing short of incredible. There’s still warts in his game and he makes mistakes, but the truth of the matter is this is his first full-time action in the NHL.

On top of all that, he’s scored eight points in 14 games to start the season. For him to be producing the numbers he has is incredible and I’ll take warts in his game if this is the kind of production he puts up.

Looking ahead, the Oilers next seven kicks off with a back-to-back against the Winnipeg Jets. One away Tuesday, and another home on Thursday. Edmonton gets another home game against Chicago, before hitting the road to visit the Dallas Stars, Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights, before returning home against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

We’ll be back on Dec. 2nd with the next Oilers In Seven!

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]