Scouting the Enemy: Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

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Apr 2, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing David Perron (57) reaches for the puck against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. The Ducks defeated the Oilers 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2. Despite the Oilers’ noted defensive woes, they aren’t a strong offensive club either. The Oilers have scored the fewest goals in the Western Conference (62), and combined with their defensive issues, the team has the worst goal differential in the Western Conference (-34) and 2nd worst in the NHL overall (ahead of the Buffalo Sabres). No player on the Oilers has 10 goals or 20 points on the season, and that is a major reason why Edmonton is last in the NHL standings. What has been the biggest reason for the Oilers’ scoring woes? Also, which players are struggling most for the Oilers in the scoring department?

Agustin: Both guys who finished as top goal scorers last season are struggling mightily this time around. David Perron and Jordan Eberle had 28 goals last season, but right now they have five and six, respectively, and are on pace for 18 and 16. Nail Yakupov is the other big issue at forward. The Russian just can’t seem to find the net unless he cheats for offense. His defensive game has improved miles, but for a guy who is ticketed as a goal scorer, he is rather dry in that department. As for why these guys are struggling, I think it is because of their defensive issues. Despite secondary stats telling us they are close to trading goals with the opposition, their power play has been terrible, sitting at 27th overall with a 12.9% efficiency. Last year they finished the season at 17%. You can see this is an ongoing issue for Dallas Eakins. Problems with the power play include a lack of a hard shot from the point and a really poor zone entry strategy.

Their shooting percentages as a team are just putrid: they are at 9.4% on the power-play and 6.6% at even strength. Their PDO (shot % + save %) at 5-on-5 is 96.8, although that can be explained more by the poor goaltending than by bad puck luck. The PDO on the power-play is 81.62, but that can easily be attributed to the fact they have allowed a league-high five shorthanded goals. But combine that PDO with their Corsi and Fenwick hovering at 50% no matter what adjustment you use (close, tied, trailing by 1 or 2), and you see why MacTavish comes out and says his team is better and has improved, even though the standings don’t show it. By those stats, the Oilers should be middle of the pack right now. The statistical evidence at first glance points more at just really poor goaltending than anything else. But the lack of offensive production from key players who have demonstrated that ability makes you think there is something else going on.

Another factor I discussed in that piece comparing the Calgary Flames defense was the offensive production by the blue line. The Oilers are getting squat in that department. They have Schultz, who is tied for 52nd among defensemen with two goals and tied for 54th with just nine points. For comparison, Calgary has three guys in the top 15 and Anaheim has two in the top 20. This goes in hand with the lack of power-play production.

My official position is that it’s the coach just losing the battles on line changes and ice time, as well as poor systems. I look at those secondary stats and all I can think of is that this team is just an outlier. I predict that these numbers will be far lower for the month of December, when all but one of their games are against the Western Conference. They only got their first win against the West against the Sharks on Sunday and are 1-13-4 for the season. This month will tell everyone, including their GM, who this team really is.