The Day After 20.0: It’s American Thanksgiving. How much trouble are the Oilers in?

Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
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Happy American Thanksgiving.
The Oilers have a .500 points percentage and are out of the playoffs.
Today’s a date that’s wildly accepted as a measuring stick when it comes to the NHL, and a day after dropping a 3-0 decision to the New York Islanders, things aren’t looking pretty.
Last night was another tough one. It was a clunky, boring first period for both teams. Edmonton’s first shot on goal came 12 minutes into the game when a defensive zone clear from Ryan McLeod trickled down to the Islanders’ net. 49 more shots later, Edmonton still couldn’t score.
Early in the second, Jean-Gabriel Pageau got a free pass to the front of the net shorthanded with both Tyson Barrie and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looking disinterested in defending.
As the Oilers’ powerplay continued, Tyson Barrie was forced to take a holding call to negate another Isles break. Two minutes after scoring shorthanded, Pageau scored on the powerplay as Evan Bouchard deflected a puck into his own net. With three minutes left in the second, nobody covered a streaking Sebastian Aho from the blue line, who one-timed a puck home.
Sure, the Oilers took 50 shots on goal, but not one of them went into the net. Running into a hot goalie or not, it’s unacceptable. They need to find ways to fight through adversity and capitalize. The Oilers had 41 scoring chances and 23 of the high-danger variety, according to Natural Stat Trick. A good sign, but boy it’s tough to watch when they’re not going in.
The defensive blunders and miscues have plagued the team all season. I wrote about this after the Devils loss, so I won’t rehash it all — but boy, something’s got to give. At the very least, Jack Campbell appeared to have a good game. He hadn’t played in nearly two week, so it was nice to see him get in with a strong performance last night.


The loss is just a symptom of a much larger issue for the Oilers: they look terrible. They can’t start games on time. They can’t get depth scoring. They can’t defend to save their lives, and there’s times where they just don’t seem to care. Granted we are just 20 games in the season, but those aren’t great signs.
Here’s a look at key underlying numbers at 5×5 for the Oilers through 20 games this year.
W-L-OTL — Pointspoints %CF/60CA/60CF%GF/60GA/60GF%xGF/60xGA/60xGF%SCF/60SCA/60SCF%SH%SV%PDO
2022-2310-10-0 — 200.50056.5559.5448.712.12.842.862.742.948.5429.7129.71507.0491.520.986
2021-2215-5-0 — 300.75056.154.8650.562.662.8548.312.452.4749.8227.0328.0249.18.6591.321
Is it all bad? No. Are there major areas to be concerned about? Absolutely there are. At 5×5, the Oilers’ biggest issue has been their inability to score goals and defend.
Their 2.1 GF/60 ranks 28th (!) in the NHL ahead of only the Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. Their 2.8 GA/60 ranks 25th (!) in the NHL. That’s a big issue for the Oilers at this point in the season and what’s even more troublesome is the fact that the team’s scoring rate without Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the ice is the worst it has ever been.
As noted by my colleague NHL_Sid, this year without them on the ice at 5×5, the Oilers score at a rate of 1.11 GF/60. As he wrote, that scoring rate was 1.52 GF/60 under Peter Chiarelli from 2017-18 through 2018-19.
Through it all, there are some statistical silver linings. The Oilers’ 5×5 shooting percentage is just 7.04 percent — roughly one and a third percent below league average. Edmonton’s due to start scoring at 5×5.
Another one? While they’re generating the same amount of shot attempts, they’re actually creating more expected goals and more scoring chances. While it hasn’t converted to goals — yet — it’s a great sign of what could come.
Edmonton, however, has some help in the standings. They’re tied with the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild for the second wildcard spot. The Calgary Flames are only one point up. It’s going to be a battle.
In the Pacific Division standings, the Seattle Kraken have been a surprise with 23 standings points, while the LA Kings have shown well with 24 of their own. Vegas is pulling away from the pack with 31.
In the 2021-22 season, the Oilers started the year strong and were 15-5 at this point. As we all remember, the wheels fell off through December and well into the new year before Jay Woodcroft joined the team on Feb. 11.
The hope for the 2022-23 squad? They get these early season woes and rebound with a strong December and January. The numbers are on their side, and the goals should come for them.

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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