Are Edmonton Oilers trending better or worse since the trade deadline?

Breadcrumb Trail Links

Published Mar 28, 2024  •  Last updated 4 hours ago  •  8 minute read

You can save this article by registering for free here. Or sign-in if you have an account.

HenriqueAdam Henrique (19) of the Edmonton Oilers warms up prior to a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on March 7, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Jason Mowry /Getty Images, file

Article content

Segment review #7, Games 61-70

Last time we delivered one of our regular 10-game segment reviews, the Edmonton Oilers were coming off one of their best wins of the season, a 2-1 overtime triumph in Boston which extended their latest winning streak to 5 games. That game featured some terrific goaltending from Stu Skinner, a late-game defensive gem from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and some even-later-game offensive heroics from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to produce first the 6v5 tying goal, then the 3v3 winner. All was well in Oil Country.

Advertisement 2

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

THIS CONTENT IS RESERVED FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY

Subscribe now to read the latest news in your city and across Canada.

  • Exclusive articles by David Staples, Keith Gerein and others, Oilers news from Cult of Hockey, Ask EJ Anything features, the Noon News Roundup and Under the Dome newsletters.
  • Unlimited online access to Edmonton Journal and 15 news sites with one account.
  • Edmonton Journal ePaper, an electronic replica of the print edition to view on any device, share and comment on.
  • Daily puzzles, including the New York Times Crossword.
  • Support local journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO UNLOCK MORE ARTICLES

Subscribe now to read the latest news in your city and across Canada.

  • Exclusive articles by David Staples, Keith Gerein and others, Oilers news from Cult of Hockey, Ask EJ Anything features, the Noon News Roundup and Under the Dome newsletters.
  • Unlimited online access to Edmonton Journal and 15 news sites with one account.
  • Edmonton Journal ePaper, an electronic replica of the print edition to view on any device, share and comment on.
  • Daily puzzles, including the New York Times Crossword.
  • Support local journalism.

REGISTER / SIGN IN TO UNLOCK MORE ARTICLES

Create an account or sign in to continue with your reading experience.

  • Access articles from across Canada with one account.
  • Share your thoughts and join the conversation in the comments.
  • Enjoy additional articles per month.
  • Get email updates from your favourite authors.

Sign In or Create an Account

or

Article content

Article content

That happened to be Game #60, triggering what turned out to be a fairly rosy review of another successful segment. By coincidence, it occurred at the exact point in the schedule that the Oilers traded for Anaheim Ducks centres Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick, at that moment unknown factors in Edmonton’s immediate future. A couple of days later, defenceman Troy Stecher was acquired from Arizona Coyotes.

3 players in, none out, even as the acquisitions served to push depth forwards Sam Gagner and Dylan Holloway to Bakersfield and, frequently, Derek Ryan to the pressbox. Presumably the theory was that these changes would make the Oilers a little better, a little deeper, a little more playoff-ready.

Are those changes helping? Well, we’ve now reached Game #70 and our latest 10 games of data contain the entire history of Henrique, Carrick and Stecher’s time with the Oil. We have a well-established methodology of reviewing just such a chunk of games and comparing it to its antecedents. So let’s do just that.

Season to date by segment

Games 1 – 10: 2-7-1, .250 | 27 GF, 41 GA | 334 SF, 302 SA | .945 PDO
Games 11-20: 5-5-0, .500 | 39 GF, 33 GA | 328 SF, 272 SA | .998 PDO
Games 21-30: 7-3-0, .700 | 37 GF, 29 GA | 371 SF, 271 SA | .993 PDO
Games 31-40: 10-0-0, 1.000 | 37 GF, 16 GA | 340 SF, 278 SA | 1.051 PDO
Games 41-50: 7-3-0, .700 | 35 GF, 25 GA | 310 SF, 284 SA | 1.025 PDO
Games 51-60: 7-2-1, .750 | 37 GF, 29 GA | 324 SF, 286 SA | 1.013 PDO
Games 61-70: 5-3-2, .600 | 38 GF, 30 GA | 364 SF, 294 SA | 1.002 PDO

Advertisement 3

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Hmm.  After 4 straight segments with at least 7 wins, the Oil won just 5 games this time around, though they were able to garner a couple of additional standings points by virtue of losing a game in overtime and another in the shootout.

It was an even split. The Oilers posted a 3-3-4 record in regulation and 2-2 in gimmick time. Still, .600 doesn’t stack up too well to the combined .788 of the prior 4 sets. Not a disaster; had the team turned even one of those losses into a win the way they had in Boston, they’d be pretty much on par with their prior trends. In truth, they let a couple of very winnable games get away, notably in Columbus, Buffalo and Ottawa.

If we use goals as our guide, the 7th segment was right in line with 4 of the 6 that preceded it. Acknowledging as outliers the awful -14 goal differential in a disastrous opening 10 and the heady +21 in the 10-0-0 fourth segment, the Oilers have landed between +6 and +10 in each other segment and smack dab in the middle of that this time around at +8.

The problem was the distribution. Edmonton won its 3 regulation games by blowout scores of 4-0, 7-2, and 8-3. The regulation losses were by tighter scores of 4-2, 6-3, and 5-3 with an empty net goal in each case. It was nonetheless disconcerting that the Oil blew a trio of 2-goal leads, in Buffalo, Ottawa and Winnipeg, ultimately securing just 3 of a potential 6 points in those games.

Headline News

Headline News

Thanks for signing up!

Article content

Advertisement 4

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

By shots the Oilers dominated by a whopping +7 per game, a small improvement on their +5.3 rate from the first 60 games.

Various other measures show the Oil generally slipped a couple of notches, even as they remained competitive in all categories and elite in several. Let’s revisit in this context a basket of team stats we have applied at other times this season:

Games 1-60 vs 61-70

Such a comparison is problematic in that the 10-game segment is much more volatile than the 60, not just for Edmonton but for their competition as well. How could the Oilers improve their per-game goal differential and goals for percentage yet fall from 4th to 9th in both categories? Sample size, that’s how. High-end rates run hot and cold for most teams, and are hard to sustain over a longer period of time.

The takeaway is surely that the Oilers are very much the same team. Since the deadline they’ve been down a quart, both in the process and shooting/save percentages sides of the equation.

Our own counts at the Cult of Hockey indicate the locals are holding fairly steady with 55% of the Grade A shots at even strength and 59% in all situations during the most recent segment. Of the more dangerous 5-alarm shots, those percentages creep up to 57% and 62%. Those are strong numbers on their own, even as we can’t do league rankings as our ongoing project is unique to the Oilers. But there’s nothing there to suggest the process is broken.

Advertisement 5

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

So how do we parse the contributions of the newcomers to the overall trends? Not easily, that’s how. The Oil remain a strong team, even as they’ve been a half bubble off plumb this last while. How much of that is due to the new arrivals, how much to the chaos and uncertainty surrounding those changes, and how much to random fluctuations of performance elsewhere in the line-up is difficult to ascertain.

Let’s turn, more briefly, to the individual side.

Goalies

Games 61-70 G

A bit of a flat period for starter Stu Skinner, even as the Oilers gained at least a point in 5 of his 6 starts.

Backup Calvin Pickard saw regular action with 4 starts and 1 relief appearance, recording 7 straight shutout periods and posting far better percentages than Skinner in the process. His save percentage for the segment was riding high at .953 before a desultory .733 at Ottawa dropped it to a still-impressive .924 over this span.

Defence

Games 61-70 D

The top pairing of Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm continued to rip it up, and were the Oilers only outscoring defensive duo during this period. Bouchard is logging ever heavier minutes but continues to be highly productive, even as he hasn’t scored a goal for a while.

Advertisement 6

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Both Ekholm and Darnell Nurse lit the lamp 3 times each, as the top 3 defenders combined for all 6 goals and 26 of the d-corps’ 30 points during these 10 games. Each had 30+ shots on goal, more than the bottom 4 defenders combined.

By these basic metrics newcomer Troy Stecher fared OK in limited opportunity, with 1 point and a 2-1 goal share in 42 sheltered minutes at 5v5. The good news is that the Oilers won all 3 of his games.

Forwards

Games 61-70 F

Connor McDavid continued his epic playmaking run, even as he endured a couple of rare pointless games during the stretch. He has recorded a jaw-dropping 50 assists over his last 27 games, a rate unseen here or anywhere since the extraordinary times of Wayne Gretzky.

On the other side of the point-scoring ledger, all 9 of Zach Hyman‘s points were goals, including his 50th of a remarkable season. Hyman also pounded a team-high 44 shots on net. On the season he leads the team in both shots (255) and shooting percentage (20.0%), a rare combination of quantity and quality.

Leon Draisaitl rightfully slotted in between them with a more balanced line of 6-7-13 over the 3 weeks.  He popped home a goal in each of the last 5 games.

Advertisement 7

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Some nice depth scoring in this segment, with Warren Foegele and Connor Brown chipping in 3 goals apiece, Ryan McLeod and Corey Perry 2 each. This “scoring by committee” helped cover off extended droughts of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who broke out of a 13-game goalless drought in Game 70, and Evander Kane who has gone 17 straight without a goal despite firing 47 shots on net in that interval.

Add trade acquisition Adam Henrique‘s name to the list of players with 2 goals. His 9 shots on net in 10 games were roughly half of the nearly 2 shots per game he was posting in Anaheim. His ice time was down from about 17½ minutes to 15, with most of that reduction occurring on the powerplay which will impact offensive metrics like boxcars and shots. At 5v5 the Oilers enjoyed a 5-3 goal share on his watch.

For his part, Sam Carrick scored a significant goal and added a helper, but the Oilers were outscored 4-2 during his 65 minutes at 5v5. After a disastrous game on the penalty kill in Ottawa, Carrick found himself in the press box in Game 70.

Let’s see how the next chapter unfolds before drawing too many conclusions about the newest Oilers.

Advertisement 8

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Player grades

cult of hockey game grades final 1

We close in our usual fashion by reviewing the set of 10 games through the lens of our own subjective ratings here at the Cult of Hockey. Regular readers will know that we grade on a scale of 1 to 10, the performance of every Edmonton Oilers player in every game the team plays, based on a combination of observation and interpretation of statistical output. Here are average grades for Games 61-70 along with our customary thumbnail comment summarizing each player’s contribution over that span.

Games 61-70 comments

Results by grader, seventh segment:

  • David Staples – 4 games, 2-1-1, average grade 5.5
  • Bruce McCurdy – 3 games, 1-1-1, average grade 5.4
  • Kurt Leavins – 3 games, 2-1-0, average grade 5.5
  • Segment totals – 10 games, 5-3-2, average grade 5.5

Prior segment reviews

Article content

Share this article in your social network

Originally Appeared Here

You May Also Like