The following stats were tracked during manually during the game. The raw totals for the tracking stats and the glossary are at the end.
At some point I’ll write up a detailed description of each category and my specific rules for each. You can find more information on Zone Exits here and Zone Defence here. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments or on Twitter (@wheatnoil).
I’ve highlighted some of the better (blue) and worse (red) performances in each category. All time on ice stats are from www.naturalstattrick.com . I’ve provided some commentary after each section and at the end. Feel free to fire me a question or comment if you have one about the numbers.
Opponent: Chicago Blackhawks
Score: 5-1 Bad Guys
The pairings indicated here were changed up part way through the first period. For the majority of the game, Sekera played with Oesterle and Davidson was reunited with Benning. Overall this was a below average game for the Oilers in regards to zone exits. Klefbom and Larsson particularly struggled to move the puck out. Benning did pretty well after a slow start to the game for him. Once he was re-paired with Davidson, he seemed to be stronger, with Davidson defering to him for most puck movement responsibilities. Oesterle was fantastic, as he was last year. His ability to move the puck quickly and effectively in transition is by far his strongest characteristic and will be his ticket to NHL employment should he stick around here or elsewhere.
Honestly, if I were Vegas, I’d give at least some consideration to selecting Oesterle in the expansion draft or picking him up in free agency if the Oilers decide not to renew. I think there’s a player there.
These numbers don’t tell the story. Before we get to that, I’d like to highlight the downside to Oesterle. If zone exits are Oesterle’s ticket to the NHL, the zone defence is what’s keeping him out. Chicago is a tough opponent, but this is an area Oesterle struggled in last year as well. He did better once paired with Sekera, who is much more aggressive at the blue line. Klefbom and Larsson held their own here and it’s probably this reason they didn’t get totally buried in this game. They played a lot of tough minutes against Chicago and defended well even though they struggled with puck movement.
Here’s the raw numbers for the zone defence. I don’t normally highlight the untargeted entries because they don’t tend to add much to the story. Usually about 85-90% of them are uncontrolled entries. Against Chicago, though, there were 15 untargeted controlled entries, which is 36% higher than the next highest game in the whole season and about double what the Oilers usually allow. Most of those were odd-man rushes. That’s the story of the game from a zone defence standpoint. The Oilers defence as a whole defended the blue line at an ‘okay-reasonable’ level when targeted, but the team allowed a ton of odd-man rushes.
A lot of this was solid work by Chicago. They activated often creating odd-man scenarios out of thin air. Even when a defencemen was targeted, sometimes it would be in a way as to overload two players crossing the blue line close together. The defender can’t play aggressive at the line or the Chicago forward would just chip to the other forward. It was solid neutral zone play by Chicago and the Oilers forwards weren’t able to help out and pick up the extra man, often getting beat in the neutral zone.
This was a team and tactical let-down, not an Edmonton defence-core let-down.
When the Oilers did force a dump in, they did a reasonable job recovering the puck and moving it forward.
Defensive Zone Passing
Overall, defensive zone turnovers weren’t a major problem for the Oilers in this one. Notable to me is the low number of Touches / 60 for most of the Oiler D. The problem was less puck movement and more not getting the puck enough, period. Klefbom, Benning, and Oesterle had the most turnovers, but they weren’t ridiculously excessive. Larsson managed not to turn over the puck once in the defensive zone, though he mostly turned it over in his zone exit attempts in the neutral zone. One interesting story is, once again, Davidson deferred heavily to Benning in the defensive zone, getting it over to his D-partner about 50% of the time he touched the puck.
Raw Total Tracking Stats
(click to enlarge)
The odd man rushes were the story of the game via my tracking at any rate. Chicago created a lot through the neutral zone and the Oilers couldn’t contain them.
Oesterle picked up where he left off last year with excellent puck transitions but poor zone defence. Davidson had an off game… it’s been awhile since his return from injury and, at least by my tracking, he still hasn’t recovered his form where he was a top 4 defender last year. Sekera was solid. Klefbom had an uncharacteristically poor zone exit game but defended well along with Larsson. Benning played a good game on the 3rd pairing, stabilizing Davidson after Davy and Oesterle had a rough start.
Controlled Zone Exit: Getting the puck out of the zone maintaining possession
Carry: Skating the puck out of the zone, the defenceman keeps possession himself
Pass: Passing the puck out of the zone, the team maintains possession
Uncontrolled Zone Exit: Getting the puck out of the zone but losing possession to the other team
Dump: No clear target when getting the puck out
Missed Pass: Appears to have a clear target but pass is not complete
Times Targeted: Number of times a defenceman was specifically targeted by the opposing player on a zone entry against
Denied Entry: Defenceman prevents the opposing team from entering the zone, forcing them to regroup or causing them to lose possession in the neutral zone
Controlled Entry Against: Opposing team is able to enter the zone with possession of the puck (maintained for at least one second)
Dump In Against: Opposing team is gets the puck into the zone but without possession of the puck
Untargeted: Controlled and Uncontrolled Entries against where either a defenceman was not the primary player targeted on entry OR an odd man rush not directly caused by one of the defencemen
Defensive Zone Passing
Total Touches: Number of the times the defenceman clearly has the puck on his stick in the defensive zone
To D-Partner: Successful defensive zone pass to another defenceman within the defensive zone
To Forward: Successful defensive zone pass to a forward within the defensive zone
Turnover: Other team gains possession of the puck after the defenceman clearly had possession of it
Total: Number of times the defenceman is the closest to the puck off of an uncontrolled entry to the zone
Successful: Defenceman retrieves the puck and successfully either gets it out of the zone or passes it a teammate, retaining possession
Failed: Defenceman either turns the puck over after retrieving it or the other team gets possession off the uncontrolled entry