Wednesday, April 15, 2009

MacTavish Meets Expectations

There has been some discussion around the Oilogosphere that this Oilers team underachieved. This perceived underachievement may well cost Craig MacTavish his job. The best defense of MacTavish to this point has been that the team achieved a reasonable number of points given their talent level. The problem, then, is the talent level of the team, not the coaching. To this point I have been somewhat sympathetic to this argument and upon further reflection I think there are some further arguments in its favour.

If we count shootout results as ties the Oilers record this season at home was 17-20-4 and their road record was 15-20-6. The first thing this shows is that the Oilers were much better at shootouts on the road (5-1) than they were at home (1-3) thus making people believe that they are a better road team than is actually the case. This is also supported by goal differential. The Oilers Pythagorean winning percentage at home (108 GF and 111 GA) was 0.486 compared to an actual winning percentage of 0.459. The Oilers Pythagorean winning percentage on the road (120 GF and 133 GA) was 0.449 compared to an actual winning percentage of 0.429. This information also demonstrates that the Oilers actually played better at home than they did on the road. The idea that this team choked at home seems to be wrongheaded, especially when you consider that the most lopsided Oiler losses were at home (9-2 vs. Chicago and 10-2 vs. Buffalo) and their most lopsided wins were on the road (8-1 at Colorado and 7-2 at Columbus). The goal differential seems to indicate that the Oilers probably deserved a few more points before the shootout than they actually got, especially at home.

If we accept the idea that this team, on talent, should have achieved between 87 and 93 points, the goal differential indicates that this team met expectations. If MacTavish is on the way out, it had better also be acknowledged that this team has some other problems to fix or the next coach may well continue the great decade-long tradition of Oiler teams on the playoff bubble.

No comments: