For those who are unfamiliar with the scoring chance metric, a player is given a chance any time someone on the ice has a chance to score. He is given a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score, just like +/-. The graphs are broken down into three game states, EV situations, PP situations (excluding 5v3) and SH situations (excluding 5v3). At EV I've also included a "scoring chance percentage" which is the number of "chances for" divided by the the total number of chances for both teams when a given player is on the ice. The players are all represented by their jersey numbers and initials. All of the players are organized by both jersey number and first and last initials. Special thanks are due to Dennis King for counting all of the scoring chances for the Oilers and to Vic Ferrari for creating an application that makes the game-to-game tallying much easier. The first table is for the Oilers in games 11-20 while the second is the Oilers over the first twenty games. I did an earlier post on games 1-10 earlier this year.
There isn't exactly a lot to like here. 42.5% for the team is truly awful and other than the trio of Hemsky-Horcoff-Penner it was truly a team effort with some guys really standing out and given the Oilers record over these ten games I don't mind bringing some guys out for flogging. Part of the reason for the decline is the split of home and road games. In the Oilers first ten game segment they played three games on the road and seven at home. In this ten game segment that's reversed with seven road games and three at home. But that doesn't excuse some of these numbers.
In the last ten-game segment I noted that Ladislav Smid's improved performance may have had something to do with being partnered with Lubomir Visnovsky. Now, Visnovsky was off in the last few games in terms of chances but nothing compared to Smid. In the two games that Visnovsky missed in this segment Smid's scoring chances were +3 -17. Now, it's just two games but that's pretty bad. I am now in "wait and see" mode with Smid but I've come to the firm conclusion that if the Oilers decide on a defender to trade they should make sure to pair him with Visnovsky for twenty games (or even longer if possible) before making the deal. They could probably use Visnovsky to sucker someone into believing that one of their young D is much better than he actually is. Pump and dump baby.
Fernando Pisani is done. He looked done in training camp and although the colitis is apparently flaring up, his performance in the six games he played this season wasn't any better than camp. He's not coming close to breaking even. A sad story to be sure, but I think we may be in Fernando's final season as an NHL player.
Speaking of bad the Moreau-Stortini pairing is a black hole of suck. On top of getting completely mauled in the chances department they've also both taken quite a few minor penalties, more than one every two games between them. It is just so bad. That the center on their line doesn't win faceoffs just adds to the carnage. One guy some observers have liked is Gilbert Brule but he's another guy under the 40% barrier. And these guys play every night! This team needs to get some forward depth that can actually play in the NHL. I realize that you shouldn't expect your third and fourth even strength lines to be breaking even but these guys aren't even close. We. Need. Help.
On to the season totals for the first twenty games:
That's a lot of bad right there. Say what you will about Mike Comrie, there aren't too many guys on this list that crack 50% and he's finding a way. My guess is that he's got a knack for finding scoring areas and getting unblocked shots toward the goal. Getting him back from illness should help this club.
Jason Strudwick's expanded role at even strength hasn't been a good idea. He was bad last year and he's done even worse so far this season. Some of that is his being forced into more difficult ice time, some of it is being put with a rookie for almost all of it but a lot of it is that Jason Strudwick isn't a good enough hockey player although, judging from his four game call-up, Theo Peckham is actually even worse.
Certainly one of the issues facing the Oilers is health. Through the first twenty games only six players actually played in all of them: Gagner (who has since sat out), Cogliano, Penner, Stortini, O'Sullivan and Gilbert. That's a ton of regulars sitting out and no team is going to deal perfectly with that. That's really the only encouraging thing to say. The team is playing with a depleted lineup and getting smoked. I personally don't believe that they'll be a good team when the players get healthy but, right now, mediocre would be a substantial improvement.