Oilers’ Best Players Must Produce 5×5

Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
9 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers must focus on what they can control. They can’t control video reviews or the referees. They can, however, control their actions and emotions. I understand them being frustrated by the review and the officials, but game three is in the past. It is over.
They must play smarter. No more cheap shots, regardless of how harmless they are, after the whistle. Anything after the whistle can get called. But that isn’t their biggest concern.
Most importantly, they need to start producing 5×5. Their lack of production at 5×5 is costing them games more than questionable calls are.
The Oilers finished the season with the sixth-most goals at 5×5. They scored 191 in 82 games for an average of 2.32/game. In the second half of the season, the Oilers led the NHL with 114 goals at 5×5 in 41 games. They produced 2.78/game. They were crushing teams at 5×5, but through three games vs. the Kings their 5×5 production has dried up.
Here’s the 5×5 production of their forwards in the second half of the regular season.
Their current top six combined for 60 goals and they missed a combined total of 28 games. They had 10 players with at least six goals, and Nick Bjugstad had four in 19 games. Everyone was producing, but through three games v. LA, Leon Draisaitl has as many goals as the other forwards combined. Draisaitl has a pair, while Derek Ryan and Klim Kostin have one. Draisaitl was on the ice for both their goals. The Oilers haven’t scored one goal in a total of 102 minutes at 5×5 without Draisaitl on the ice.
It isn’t from lack of chances. Right now, the Oilers simply can’t finish.
In the regular season, the LA Kings led the NHL allowing a league-low five shots/game from the inner slot (the most dangerous area to score from). Through three games the Oilers have had 20 inner slot shots (6.7/game) and they lead the NHL with 50 slot shots.
The ugly truth about the playoffs is, if you want to win your top two lines need to produce. So far, only Draisaitl has managed to produce a 5×5.
Mattias Janmark has more points 5×5 than seven other forwards and he’s only played one game. The Oilers’ top-six forwards, not named Draisaitl, have produced zero goals on 36 shots through three games. The third line has zero goals on eight shots. And that doesn’t include the shots where they’ve missed the net.
The concerning part for the Oilers is who isn’t producing 5×5. Connor McDavid has no points 5×5. He scored two great power play goals, and it isn’t like he is playing bad, but zero points at 5×5 isn’t ideal. But, it is never one player. The Oilers need more players scoring. Did you know in their final 11 games of the regular season, when the Oilers went 10-0-1, McDavid didn’t score 5×5 in nine of those games? He produced in other areas, but the depth players produced. You won’t win in the playoffs when only one of your top-nine forwards has a goal 5×5.
Edmonton is doing many things well, but they are struggling in the most important category — scoring. They’ve controlled the play 5×5 and outshot LA 98-63.  The next closest playoff team is Colorado with 88 shots at 5×5, and the Oilers’ lead isn’t due to two overtime games. The Oilers are also first in shots/60 at 5×5.
They also have allowed the fewest shots on goal. They aren’t sacrificing defense to create offence. They simply aren’t scoring.
Here’s a quick comparison of the eight series in 5×5 shots for (and goals for) by team:
EDM-LA (98-63) and GF (4-4).
COL-SEA (88-74) and GF (7-7).
CAR-NYI (84-70) and GF (3-7).
LVK-WPG (84-72) and GF (9-6).
BOS-FLA (77-68) and GF (7-5).
DAL-MIN (76-70) and GF (4-7).
TB-TOR (74-72) and GF (8-8).
NJ-NYR (68-64) and GF (1-6).
The Oilers have fired 35 more shots than the Kings, while Colorado and Carolina are tied for second at +14. The Devils, who were fifth in 5×5 goals in the second half of the season, have also struggled to score 5×5.
There is no easy answer to fix Edmonton’s scoring woes. There is no magical potion, but crashing the net would be a good start. How much traffic has Joonas Korpisalo had to deal with regularly? Not much, and when the Oilers do have traffic in front the shots from the point are missing the net. It is a vicious cycle, and if the Oilers don’t find a solution quickly, they could get upset.
They can’t panic. They can’t get distracted and worry about the officials or replay view. That is out of their control. Don’t waste time or energy worrying about things they can’t change.
Start scoring 5×5 and the officials and reviews won’t matter.
The challenge of the playoffs is you don’t have time for trends to even out, like they would over an 82-game season. It is seven games, at the most, and Edmonton must reverse its goal-scoring woes 5×5 to win this series. The good news is they aren’t giving up much 5×5. The Kings have also only scored four goals 5×5. Keep playing solid defensively and it shouldn’t be difficult to outscore them right now.
Small things like hitting the net more could help. In the regular season, the Oilers averaged 11.5 missed shots/game. They are at 15 through three games vs. LA. I wonder how much the lack of scoring increases the missed shots? Are players are looking for the perfect shot and end up missing the net?
Edmonton isn’t out of the series — they’ve only trailed for just over seven minutes — but they are down 2-1. The harsh truth is if their top-six forwards don’t start scoring 5×5, their odds of winning the series decrease significantly. The Oilers’ top six has two goals on 44 shots at 5×5. Draisaitl has both, while the other five have no goals on 33 shots. Maybe the statistical odds will turn in their favour, but it’s risky to just rely on luck.
Scoring is a skill, and the Oilers, specifically their top six. were very good at it all season.
They need to find it tonight.


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