Comparing the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers at even-strength

Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers
Photo credit:Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sunil Agnihotri
10 days ago
It’s astonishing that it’s taken the Edmonton Oilers ownership and different management groups this long to finally win a team-level award.
It’s a massive opportunity for the Edmonton Oilers to win their first championship in 34 years, but a lot is going to have to go right for them – especially at even-strength where they’ve only been okay at this post-season. Team awards have been hard to come by for this franchise when you consider the lack of division titles, conference titles and president trophies, but a championship this June is a very real possibility and can alleviate some of the frustrations this fan base has endured over the years.
So far this post-season, the Panthers have had better success than Edmonton, ranking first with a 56.36 percent goal-share (+7 goal differential) at even-strength. The Oilers, on the other hand, have just barely broken even in terms of goals, posting a 50.65 percent goal-share (+1 goal differential) that ranks sixth. The Panthers have also posted stronger shot-share numbers than Edmonton, ranking second among playoff teams with a Corsi For percentage of 55.49 percent and leading the group with an Expected Goals for percentage of 54.93 percent. Edmonton’s numbers aren’t bad either, as their Corsi For percentage ranks fifth. But their expected goals for percentage rank seventh.
While the Panthers are doing a good job at controlling the flow of play, spending more time in the offensive zone and generating shots, it appears that they’re having issues converting on their chances. Their current shooting percentage of 7.32 percent is below league-average levels but consistent with what they posted in the regular season (7.67 percent). Their results at even-strength this postseason appear to be driven by their goaltending, as their team save percentage sits at 92.28 percent, well ahead of Edmonton’s save percentage of 89.10 which is the second lowest in the league.
Among the 24 goalies who have played at least 40 even-strength minutes this season, Sergei Bobrovsky ranks ninth with a 92.40 percent save percentage and seventh with a goals-save above average of +1.54. Stuart Skinner on the other hand ranks 20th among the 24 goals with an 89.50 percent save percentage and last overall with a goals-saved above average of -7.73,
Below are the on-ice numbers for the Panthers and Oilers skaters, separated by position and sorted by total time on ice this post-season. The table included each player’s on-ice shot differential, expected goals differential, and actual goals differential. A heat map has been applied to each metric to show how each skater compares with their teammates.
What stands out for Edmonton is that their top-end players are doing quite well when it comes to generating shots and goals. But the further you go down the lineup, the more things start to drop off. In their 16 games this postseason, the Oilers have played about 41 percent of their even-strength time without McDavid or Draisaitl on the ice. And in those minutes, the Oilers have been pounded on the score sheet – being outscored 14-7. This is largely driven by the fact that they tend to get outshot without their star players on the ice, and have posted an Expected Goals for percentage of only 47.69 percent.
Florida, on the other hand, has posted much better results without their top-end players on the ice this postseason. If we use Sam Reinhart and Matthew Tkachuk as proxies for their top lines, we uncover the fact that in over 340 minutes without their star players, or 41 percent of their total ice time, the Panthers have outscored opponents 11-8 during this run. Looking at the on-ice numbers above, we see that the vast majority of Florida’s skaters, including those on depth forward line and defence pairings, are posting positive shot and scoring chance differentials. And it’s reasonable to expect their success to generate chances to continue.
Edmonton had their way with Dallas’ top-end players in the last series, which wasn’t overly surprising as some of the Stars forwards were performing poorly at even-strength heading into the Western Conference finals. This upcoming match-up against the Panthers is going to be a lot tougher, and the Oilers will need much better even-strength performances from depth players like Henrique and Brown. Especially if the Panthers’ top players can slow down McDavid’s line. I suspect we’ll see the Panthers target the weaker spots on the Oilers’ roster through tactics and line matchups, especially the blue line.
Data: Natural Stat Trick

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