Instead, I saw the opposite of what I expected: Schultz having the most time-on-ice among all the defensemen. Petry and Fayne are the Oilers’ two best defensemen, but their TOI’s were 4th and 5th, respectively, behind Schultz, Hunt, and Ference. Hard for me to believe that Tyler Dellow, their analytics consultant, would endorse any such player deployment. MacTavish thinks the world of Schultz, unfortunately, so I guess it’s not a surprise. But Hunt with the 2nd most TOI? Simply makes no sense to me. Hunt is an AHL-quality player trying to break into the NHL and he’s getting top-2 minutes? I’m amazed the Oilers did as well as they did!
Then there is Gazdic and Pinizotto, two of the Oilers worst possession players, getting about 7 min TOI. Admittedly, they played OK last night (except for a few shifts, one in which resulted in a goal against), but over the long-haul these two are hurting the team. First, they barely create any good scoring opportunities. When Gazdic gets the puck in the offensive zone, the play usually dies with him. In addition, the opposing team usually gets a Corsi uptick. Then in only playing them 7 min, the top-6 forwards are getting considerably more ice-time. Is this such a good thing? Teams like Los Angeles and Chicago play their 4th liners at least 9 min./game and usually more than 10 min. Why? Because players are not robots. They need to rest. The schedule is tough. A more rested team plays better. I can’t wait for Gordon to return. Hendricks, Gordon, and an AHLer is much preferred to Hendricks with 2 AHLers.
With these kinds of deployment decisions, I see dark days ahead. On to my game review…
The Oilers and Coyotes were evenly matched possession-wise in the first period. With a little help from Purcell holding a d-man back, Nugent-Hopkins scored with a wrist shot on Dubynk. But then the 2nd period? That was a disaster with a tornado touching down during a hurricane: 27 shots against! Scrivens surely deserves an honorary doctoral degree for that period alone. The 2nd period onslaught started at around 8 min., which was quickly followed by a Coyotes' goal--thanks to a defensive miscue by Gazdic--by some guy who hadn't scored in over 40 games. The Coyotes’ machine-gun target practice on Scrivens continued until the end of the period.
In the 3rd period, the Oilers got their act together and held the Coyotes to one shot attempt during the first 8 min. The Oilers won the 3rd period Corsi possession game 33 to 14.
The timing of the Coyote's overtime goal with under a second to go was unbelievable. The clock stopped at .3 seconds, but really it was .8 seconds. Huge difference! I yelled, "You've gotta be kidding!" The goal was also an excellent slap-shot by Ekman-Larsson. According to the Arizona commentators, Ekman-Larsson is becoming known for his OT heroics this season.
Due to the lopsided debacle in the 2nd period, the Coyotes won the even-strength Corsi game 61 to 49. In the 5v5 shot chart below, you’ll see the Coyotes also created more scoring chances (shots within 35 feet) with 10, whereas the Oilers had 4 (5 if you include Perron’s shot parallel to the net). Being out-chanced has been a chronic pattern for the Oil playing against western teams. In particular, Oilers have been out-chanced 251 to 190.
Our top 5v5 Corsi (Corsi +/-, Corsi%) players were Perron (+9, 65%), Arcobello (+5, 59%), and Pitlick (+4, 58%), with the latter 2 taking 4 shot attempts each. Fayne (+2, 54%) and Davidson (+2, 52%) were best possession defensemen. Our bottom Corsi players were our top line: Hall (-13, 37%), Eberle (-10, 37%), & Nugent-Hopkins (-9, 40%). The Nuge, though, fired at will with 12 shot attempts, which is probably one of his highest totals of the season. In contrast, Hall only managed 2 shot attempts. As an aside, former Oiler, Gagner, along with Chipchura, and Erat dominated possession against the Oiler’s top line.
Our bottom 2 possession defensemen were Ference (-8, 42%) and Hunt (-6, 44%) which is expected. Ference’s defensive partner, Petry (-4, 46%), did a bit better despite being paired with Ference. I will note this especially for Petry-haters: Petry has the strongest possession metrics among our defensemen, easily, with a Corsi% of 53.3% along with a composite Corsi WOWY (with or without you) of 4%. I find David Johnson’s (owner of puckalytics.com) composite Corsi WOWY score more useful than relative Corsi. Specifically, Petry’s composite WOWY means that when he is on the ice, the team, on average, generates almost 6 more shot attempts (Corsi-For = +5.86) and allows 3 fewer shot attempts (Corsi-Against = -2.94) for every 60 minutes.
How about special teams? They looked good. Despite not scoring on the power-play (PP), the Oilers’ had 11 shot attempts over 4 min of PP (165 Corsi-For/60 min.), which is exceptional. Take note, though, Arizona’s penalty-kill (Corsi-Against/60 = 120) is the worst in the league. Although I liked seeing the Oilers generate a tonne of shots attempts, their shot quality was limited. There was only 1 shot on goal from the slot, which was a rebound (see power-play shot chart below).
The Oilers’ penalty-kill was solid by only allowing 8 shot attempts, including 2 shots on goal from the slot, over 8 min. This amount of PK shot suppression is a positive sign because the Coyotes have the 4th best PP (Corsi-For/60 = 93.5). If Arizona’s PP was firing normally, they would have had about 15 shot attempts. The Oilers’ special teams, then, executed well, but they still need more net traffic on the PP for screens, rebounds, and deflections. The Oilers did try to park a guy in front with Purcell and Draisaitl having opportunities in front of Dubnyk. Draisaitl had a nice deflection, but it went over the cross-bar. I think Draisaitl is an excellent choice because of his size and soft hands. He is also a great passer, but I think we have enough strong passers on the PP that he can perch himself in front. Now I’m wondering why they haven’t tried Draisaitl sooner.
Thanks for reading and please leave your comments below. I will answer your questions and address any concerns.