An analytical overview of the Edmonton Oilers – Calgary Flames series

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
2 years ago
We’re only one day away from the first playoff Battle of Alberta this province has seen in 20 years.
But today, we’re going to take a look at some underlying numbers from both teams, and how it could impact the series.
The Edmonton Oilers have been a completely different team under Jay Woodcroft, so what we’re going to do is look at regular season underlying numbers for both teams between Feb. 10 and the end of the season. While we could get a larger sample size dating back to the beginning of the year, the numbers would be heavily skewed.
Under Woodcroft, the Oilers saw massive improvements in their game in all three areas of the ice and it came out in the Oilers’ underlying numbers, too. The numbers as follows all come at 5×5, where the majority of the game is played.
W-L, points% (rank)CF%GF-GA, GF%xGF%Scoring chances %High danger scoring chances%PDO
Oilers26-9-3, .724 (3rd)52.63 (8th)93-73, 56.02 (5th)54.17 (6th)50.64 (14th)55.79 (6th)101.1 (7th)
Flames26-8-5, .731 (2nd)55.64 (3rd)99-68, 59.28 (2nd)52.60 (10th)54.29 (6th)54.22 (8th)1.015 (6ht)
It’s hard to find a true edge, analytically speaking, in the Oilers’ favour. That doesn’t mean the Oilers are a bad team — far from it, actually. The Oilers have had a massive turnaround in their season under Woodcroft, especially at 5×5.
That’s played a big part in their late-season success, as well as their ability to get out of their seven-game set against the LA Kings. Come this round, it’s going to be tight. And I mean really tight.
During the season at 5×5 when adjusting for score and venue, the Oilers controlled just 42.6 percent of the shot attempts, 41.31 percent of the scoring chances, 36.86 percent of the goals scored, and just 42.3 percent of the expected goals. Things are… not looking great in that aspect. But when we look at larger sample sizes over the last few years, the Oilers have shown they can handle this Calgary Flames team that largely looks the same, coaching change notwithstanding.
The truth of the matter is, however, the playoffs are totally different. Edmonton didn’t struggle as much against LA as they did Calgary in the regular season, but you were able to see how the Oilers elevated their game in the playoffs, and I would expect nothing less than them elevating their game in a big way against Calgary.
At the end of the day, this is a series in my eyes that could very well be determined by the goaltending. Tomorrow, we’ll dive into how each teams’ lines and pairings have performed.

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 zach@oilersnation.com.

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