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Team Defense and Goaltending: Part One

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
2 months ago
This is part one of a two-part series on the Oilers’ goaltending and team defense, and where it ranked among the top-20 teams in the NHL last season. And since the play of skaters impacts the play of goaltenders, I’ve added a few team stats as well.
I’ve separated the top-1o teams in the east and top-10 in the west, mainly so the tables are easier to read.
**The Sv% is the combined Sv% of all the goalies who played for that team. I’ve taken out empty net goals so the Sv% is reflective of what happened with a goalie between the pipes. **
TEAMPTSSV%SAMost GS5×5 SA/605×5 GA5×5 Sv%
MIN1030.9192540Fleury (45)30.181390.930
NSH920.9172717Saros (63)32.121530.926
COL1090.9162518Georgiev (62)30.391450.927
DAL1080.9162443Oettinger (61)28.961450.924
WPG950.9162470Hellebuyck (64)29.651470.924
VGK1110.9152522Thompson (37)29.891590.922
EDM1090.9032564Skinner (48)29.861680.914
LA1070.8922282Copley (35)26.251590.907
CGY930.8922233Markstrom (58)26.071690.901
SEA1000.8902205Jones (42)25.841600.907
The Oilers ranked third in the west in points, seventh in Sv%, 9th in shots against (SA), sixth in 5×5 SA/60, eighth in 5×5 GA and 7th in 5×5 Sv%.
It is interesting to note that LA, CGY, and Seattle allowed the fewest shots against, but ranked eighth, ninth, and 10th among the playoff contending teams in the west. They were also top-three in 5×5 shots against/60 but had the three lowest 5×5 Sv%, proving the theory that shot quality can matter more than shot volume. More on that later.
Here’s a look at the top 10 teams in the East.
TEAMPTSSV%SAMost GS5×5 SA/605×5 GA5×5 Sv%
BOS1350.9312441Ullmark (48)291140.939
NYI930.9202527Sorokin (60)29.991450.928
TOR1110.9122410Samsonov (40)28.261420.923
NYR1070.9122399Shesterkin (58)28.91530.921
NJ1120.9082304Vanecek (33)27.311540.916
TB980.9082564Vasilevskiy (60)30.521620.919
CAR1130.9072120Andersen (33)24.71390.914
PIT910.9072673Jarry (47)31.441720.916
FLA920.9032581Bobrovsky (49)30.591590.918
BUF910.8962693Luukkonen (32)31.642040.903
The Bruins goaltending was on a different level than every other team, and a main reason they set the NHL record for most points and most wins in NHL history. Boston and the New York Islanders had the top-two Sv% in the NHL, and then the West had the next six between .915-.919%.
Of the 16 playoff teams the Oilers were tied with Tampa Bay for 14th, allowing 2,564 shots against. Only Florida allowed more.
The Oilers ranked 10th among playoff teams in 5×5 SA/60 at 29.86, and the quality of chances they allowed was even better.
Courtesy of Clear Sight Analytics, here are the top-10 teams from the western conference last season ranked in expected goals against (xGA) and high danger five-on-five expected goals against (HD 5-on5 xGA).
xGA HD 5-on-5 xGA
LAK 2.58LAK 1.33
CAL 2.79DAL 1.50
DAL 2.80EDM 1.54
WIN 2.89CAL 1.61
VGK 2.93COL 1.67
SEA 2.94SEA 1.70
COL 2.94MIN 1.70
EDM 2.95WIN 1.72
MIN 3.12VGK 1.74
NAS 3.41NAS 1.94
At 5×5 the Oilers were third in the west and fourth overall in the NHL in HD 5-on-5 xGA. Claims the Oilers’ man-to-man system was an issue just doesn’t jive with the amount of quality chances allowed. The Oilers ranked ninth in the west, and 13th overall in expected goals against (in all situations), but at 5×5 they were quite good at limiting the number of high-danger chances.
Despite being fourth in HD 5-on-5 xGA, Edmonton ranked 16th in 5×5 Sv%. Their goaltending, specifically Jack Campbell, needs to be more consistent this season.
Here’s how the East ranked.
xGA HD 5-on-5 xGA
CAR 2.48CAR 1.32
BOS 2.77TOR 1.58
TOR 2.77FLA 1.59
NJD 2.88NYI 1.60
FLA 2.94BOS 1.63
NYI 3.02NJD 1.68
NYR 3.06NYR 1.83
TAM 3.17PIT 1.84
PIT 3.25TAM 1.87
BUF 3.58BUF 2.19
I like the Buffalo Sabres team, but they will need to tighten up defensively if they want to take the next step and make the playoffs. Buffalo ranked 31st in HD 5-on-5 xGA. This stat is usually a good indicator for making the playoffs. The bottom 12 overall missed the post-season. The Calgary Flames finished eighth in this category yet missed the playoffs. Goaltending was the main reason they missed the playoffs, and if Jacob Markstrom posted a .901Sv%, instead of a .892Sv% (which would have meant 14 fewer goals against by him), the Flames likely would have made the playoffs. In 42 of his 58 starts Markstrom posted a Sv% of .900 or lower. Calgary missed the playoffs by two points. They led the NHL with 17 OT losses, and Markstrom had 12. If in three games he makes one more save in regulation, Calgary earns three more points and makes the playoffs. Goaltending, or more accurately, a lack of it, cost them. I expect the Flames to be a playoff team this season because their goaltending will be better.
The Oilers’ goaltending should also improve. Jack Campbell had the worst season of his career last year. I’d be rather surprised if he struggles like that again. Look at his last six seasons.
2019 – 25 starts and a .928Sv%.
2020 – 26 starts and a .904Sv%.
2021 – 22 starts and a .921Sv%.
2022 – 47 starts and a .914Sv%.
2023 – 34 starts with a .888Sv%.
From 2019-2022 and in 120 starts with LA and Toronto he posted a .916Sv%. In 34 starts with Edmonton, on a team that didn’t give up a lot of quality chances at 5×5, he posted a .888Sv%. I don’t expect him to be at .916% necessarily, as scoring is up, but he should be capable of hovering around .905-.910. Last year the 16th-to-20th ranked goalies (with at least 30 starts) were Tristan Jarry (.909), Darcy Kuemper (.909), Marc-Andre Fleury (.908), Carter Hart (.907) and Casey DeSmith (.905).
Stuart Skinner was 14th at .914. I don’t think it is a huge ask for Campbell to post at least a .905Sv%. The Oilers didn’t allow many high-danger chances, and with the players talking openly about how they want to be able to close out games, and not take as many risks at key times in games, Campbell and Skinner’s jobs should, in theory, be a bit easier.
Especially if Edmonton can tighten up their penalty kill, which we will look at in part two tomorrow.

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