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Do the Oilers Miss the Net Too Much?

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
10 months ago
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.
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.**
TEAMGPTotal SASOGMissedWideOverPostCBOn NetGoals
VGK43716509207172239371%29
FLO436734901831591211172.8%21
NJD41642437205182129268.0%18
NSH44578410168143205070.9%19
WPG39571390181149266068.3%10
ANA44568408160138166071.8%26
EDM385654291361091010375.9%16
CAR39556409147132113173.5%23
TB43551368183165134166.7%19
COL405314011301081110175.5%39
VAN4252938914012189273.5%7
PIT4252936616315453169.1%16
LA4351438712711962075.2%11
WSH43511363148129125271.0%21
PHI43511349162142182068.2%14
SEA42503351152131164169.7%22
TEAMGPTotal SASOGMissedWideOverPostCBOn NetGoals
BOS39499370129114133074.1%20
SJ42499352147129162070.5%20
STL42498363135112184172.8%23
DAL40494352142115179171.2%14
CGY37492354138119145071.9%14
ARI41491347160144132170.6%19
CHI4246433912511672073.0%13
NYR43459341138118144274.2%24
DET424523401129984175.2%9
CBJ39449316133982213068.1%22
BUFF42433308125106144171.1%15
MIN3841331210187112075.5%22
OTT36404284120101135170.2%10
NYI3540228212010596070.1%11
MTL41396298988494175.2%13
TOR383832701139689070.4%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.
RKTEAMOZ POSSRKTEAMOZ POSS
1EDM7:5917NSH6:26
2COL7:3218CGY6:22
3TOR7:2519DET6:22
4TBL7:1420STL6:19
5FLA7:0621BUF6:15
6MIN7:0622CBJ6:13
7VAN7:0223NJD6:10
8WPG6:5424NYI6:08
9NYR6:4825BOS6:08
10VGK6:4826ARI6:07
11PIT6:4727ANA6:01
12WSH6:4028PHI6:00
13SEA6:3729DAL5:47
14LAK6:3330MTL5:41
15CAR6:3131OTT5:34
16CHI6:3032SJ5:12
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.

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.
PlayerGPTotal SASOGMissedWideOverPostCBOn NetG
Nurse31154116382963075.3%3
Bouchard3812492292412274.1%8
Barrie359473211812077.6%3
Ceci346451131201079.6%1
Keith296345181511171.4%1
Russell1720182200090.0%0
Koekkoek1919118800057.8%0
Lagesson1013112200084.6%0
Broberg81295311041.6%0
Niemelainen73300000100%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.

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