38
Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Do the Oilers Miss the Net Too Much?

When things are going wrong often we try to find solutions to fix the issue. Especially men. Ask any man in a relationship and most will say they’ve learned that often it is best to just listen, rather than try and solve or fix the problem your partner or spouse is telling you about.

Sports, thankfully, is a bit different. The problems don’t personally impact you. If the power play is struggling, you can discuss options with your friends, your kids, your partner or other fans online. It leads to good conversations, fun debates and often some heated arguments.

Today, I decided to take a look at shots from the blueline for all 32 teams.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Lately, there have been questions surrounding the Oilers’ defencemen and their shot totals.

They shoot too much, some say.
They miss the net too much, others claim.

So let’s look and see where they rank in shots on goal, missed shots and more.

**Total SA = Shots on goal + missed shots.
Missed shots split into Wide of net, Over net, Goal Post and Crossbar (CB).
**On net is the percentage of shots (not including blocked) that hit the net.**

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
TEAM GP Total SA SOG Missed Wide Over Post CB On Net Goals
VGK 43 716 509 207 172 23 9 3 71% 29
FLO 43 673 490 183 159 12 11 1 72.8% 21
NJD 41 642 437 205 182 12 9 2 68.0% 18
NSH 44 578 410 168 143 20 5 0 70.9% 19
WPG 39 571 390 181 149 26 6 0 68.3% 10
ANA 44 568 408 160 138 16 6 0 71.8% 26
EDM 38 565 429 136 109 10 10 3 75.9% 16
CAR 39 556 409 147 132 11 3 1 73.5% 23
TB 43 551 368 183 165 13 4 1 66.7% 19
COL 40 531 401 130 108 11 10 1 75.5% 39
VAN 42 529 389 140 121 8 9 2 73.5% 7
PIT 42 529 366 163 154 5 3 1 69.1% 16
LA 43 514 387 127 119 6 2 0 75.2% 11
WSH 43 511 363 148 129 12 5 2 71.0% 21
PHI 43 511 349 162 142 18 2 0 68.2% 14
SEA 42 503 351 152 131 16 4 1 69.7% 22
TEAM GP Total SA SOG Missed Wide Over Post CB On Net Goals
BOS 39 499 370 129 114 13 3 0 74.1% 20
SJ 42 499 352 147 129 16 2 0 70.5% 20
STL 42 498 363 135 112 18 4 1 72.8% 23
DAL 40 494 352 142 115 17 9 1 71.2% 14
CGY 37 492 354 138 119 14 5 0 71.9% 14
ARI 41 491 347 160 144 13 2 1 70.6% 19
CHI 42 464 339 125 116 7 2 0 73.0% 13
NYR 43 459 341 138 118 14 4 2 74.2% 24
DET 42 452 340 112 99 8 4 1 75.2% 9
CBJ 39 449 316 133 98 22 13 0 68.1% 22
BUFF 42 433 308 125 106 14 4 1 71.1% 15
MIN 38 413 312 101 87 11 2 0 75.5% 22
OTT 36 404 284 120 101 13 5 1 70.2% 10
NYI 35 402 282 120 105 9 6 0 70.1% 11
MTL 41 396 298 98 84 9 4 1 75.2% 13
TOR 38 383 270 113 96 8 9 0 70.4% 12

The Oilers are fourth in total shots attempts from the blueline (average of 14.8/game) behind Vegas, Florida and New Jersey.
The Oilers lead the NHL with 75.9% of their shots hitting the net. So, suggestions they miss the net too much are not accurate.

Are they shooting from bad spots is another question.

It is difficult to find data to support or refute if they are or not. I think an issue is the lack of traffic in front of the net, so some shots might seem wasted, but the lack of forwards going to the net is a bigger concern for me than wasted shots. Evan Bouchard scored two power play goals v. Calgary on Saturday and Jesse Puljujarvi created a good screen on both, especially on the second goal. Edmonton is near the bottom of the NHL in deflected shots, which tells me they don’t have traffic often enough in front of goalies.

The Oilers do shoot a lot from the blueline, and part of that could be due to Edmonton having the most offensive zone possession time in the NHL at 7:59 per game. Stats courtesy of Sportlogiq.

RK TEAM OZ POSS RK TEAM OZ POSS
1 EDM 7:59 17 NSH 6:26
2 COL 7:32 18 CGY 6:22
3 TOR 7:25 19 DET 6:22
4 TBL 7:14 20 STL 6:19
5 FLA 7:06 21 BUF 6:15
6 MIN 7:06 22 CBJ 6:13
7 VAN 7:02 23 NJD 6:10
8 WPG 6:54 24 NYI 6:08
9 NYR 6:48 25 BOS 6:08
10 VGK 6:48 26 ARI 6:07
11 PIT 6:47 27 ANA 6:01
12 WSH 6:40 28 PHI 6:00
13 SEA 6:37 29 DAL 5:47
14 LAK 6:33 30 MTL 5:41
15 CAR 6:31 31 OTT 5:34
16 CHI 6:30 32 SJ 5:12

Edmonton, Colorado, Florida, Tampa, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Vegas are all top-11 in possession and top-11 in shots at the net from D-men. Toronto is the outlier as they have lots of offensive zone possession time, but are 31st in shots from the blueline.

Should the Oilers be scoring more more with all the possession time? Maybe a bit, but not by any significant margin. I think the recent 10-game stretch where their top-six has seen their offence decrease is more of an anomaly and I could see the Oilers GF/GP go up in the coming weeks. They are currently 10th in the NHL in goals for/game, and of the top-10 teams in GF/GP only Carolina (15th) and St. Louis (20th) aren’t in the top-10 in offensive zone possession time.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

SHOTS LEAD TO GOALS…

Feb 8, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (22) skates with the puck in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Despite being fourth in shots on goal per game (11.2), Edmonton’s defence ranks 18th in goals. I wonder how much of that is luck, as they lead the league with 13 goal posts/crossbars. If a few of those go in Edmonton would be 11th. Colorado currently leads the NHL with an amazing 39 goals from their D-core. They have a combined 9.7SH% as a D corps. They also have Cale Makar who has been a goal-scoring machine and is one of the most dynamic players in the NHL. You’d like to see a few more goals from the backend in the final few months.

At the start of the season I had an interview with Jim Playfair. He outlined four specific areas about defending.  In another part of the interview he mentioned how they had a goal for each D-man to get one spot per period. It was a goal, not a requirement. Then in December he was on the Spittin Chicklets podcast and mentioned the shots on goals again, and because the Oilers were losing it has now become a topic and some believe he is coaching them to just fire pucks on net from anywhere. I don’t believe that to be the case.

Watching last night’s game again this morning I noticed numerous occasions where the D-men opted not to shoot, instead moved the puck across to their partner, sent a pass down low, or waited for traffic in front. I haven’t seen many cases where D-men are constantly wasting shots. It has happened, but I haven’t noticed it as a major issue. It is something I will watch for, but I think it is more a result of an interview combined with losing games that has people looking for other solutions.

Here is a look at each Oilers blueliner.

Player GP Total SA SOG Missed Wide Over Post CB On Net G
Nurse 31 154 116 38 29 6 3 0 75.3% 3
Bouchard 38 124 92 29 24 1 2 2 74.1% 8
Barrie 35 94 73 21 18 1 2 0 77.6% 3
Ceci 34 64 51 13 12 0 1 0 79.6% 1
Keith 29 63 45 18 15 1 1 1 71.4% 1
Russell 17 20 18 2 2 0 0 0 90.0% 0
Koekkoek 19 19 11 8 8 0 0 0 57.8% 0
Lagesson 10 13 11 2 2 0 0 0 84.6% 0
Broberg 8 12 9 5 3 1 1 0 41.6% 0
Niemelainen 7 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 100% 0

The only blueliners who struggle getting pucks consistently on net are Koekkoek and Broberg, although they only had 19 and 12 shots to the net respectively.

If their accuracy continues, and there is more traffic in front in the final 44 games of the season, I won’t be surprised to see an increase in goals from the blueliners. Admittedly, I was surprised to see the Oilers D-corps sitting #1 in the NHL with 75.9% of their shots reaching the net. I didn’t think they missed the net a lot, but also didn’t expect them to be at the top.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Recently by Jason Gregor: