Edmonton Oiler’s fans can take a look at the standings and see Calgary Flames shooting up the standings the last few weeks. Meanwhile Anaheim Ducks remain locked in the same battle in the standings with the Oilers for months now. Calgary introducing themselves to this race has brought on all new sorts of possibilities. Could we see our first battle of Alberta in many moons? Could Edmonton stay in fourth and play San Jose? Play the Minnesota Wild in a crossover? There are lots of possibilities but my intention is to look at a few of the underlying numbers that might be considered good indicators of how the Oilers secondary scorers are doing. To me the secondary scorers are everybody not Connor McDavid. In this exercise I am specifically looking at the players that had a good track record of scoring. I left out Maroon purposefully because he has been riding shotgun on McDavid’s wing for some time. I don’t think he should be a permanent fixture but I don’t think Coach McLellan will necessarily change both wingers at the same time. Lets take a look and see how the group of Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, Pouliot, and Lucic are performing.
Expected Goals For
I will start with Expected Goals For done by Corsica Hockey, (There’s a post here if you’re not familiar with Corsica.) In the short form it weighs shots including things like type of shot, distance, angle, rebounds, etc. Essentially metrics like xGF have a close connection with the “eye test”. First of all Eberle is doing very well over the last month, really on a uptick since the first week of February. What also jumps out is he has been “driving” that line with Nugent-Hopkins and Lucic. They all really struggled for parts of February but began an uptick and are over 50% since. Leon Draisaitl is a more consistent producer in this metric, but also has been fortunate to play significant minutes with McDavid; lately his game has fallen off in this regard. Benoit “Doghouse” Pouliot has been off for some time with an injury but has also recovered from his early season struggles. Folks, don’t write off Pouliot; I certainly hope the coach hasn’t.
*all these metrics are five on five play
Actual Goals For
Typically I want to make sure the players are creating and then you can anticipate that goals will follow. Lets see how the actual goals scored are doing. In looking at the previous metric we should hope to see Eberle followed by RNH, Lucic, Draisaitl, then Pouliot.
The order of scoring is very close to what has actually happened over the last 10 games and is fairly closely aligned with the expected Goals For. What pops out a little to me here though is Drai is a little snakebitten lately. Theoretically he is doing most of the right things but is on the losing end.
Lets dig a little into a more predictive (and maligned) metric – Corsi!
Relative Corsi For
This is what is where it gets even more interesting. Eberle has been on a tear for weeks. Comparative to his teammates he is really driving the puck the right direction up the ice. He is also bringing Lucic and Nugent-Hopkins along for the ride. On the flipside its been a steep downslope for Draisaitl. Coach McLellan starting changing the matchups of who the RNH-Ebs-Looch line was facing in February. We then seen chances, shot attempts and actual goals for percentage all increase.
I get that Eberle or Pouliot are not everybody’scup of tea visually, that they dont show things that we like to see. I often hear Eberle is a “Lucky” shooter. Lets check on that with PDO.
Eberle is so Lucky!
Is Eberle lucky? I don’t see it. What this tells me is that he is producing at a fairly sustainable level. He isn’t a defensive drag or shooting the lights out. Draisaitl actually has more ups and a few downs, while Nugent-Hopkins has the downs unfortunately.
LAST CHART! Goals Against
Hockey isn’t all about offence; it’s also about preventing the goals. I don’t like to spend a lot of time looking at the defensive metrics because I like goal scoring.
This is a little alarming to me though and indicates to me that Draisaitl likely needs a reduction in minutes and can’t handle the tough matchups he has been receiving since February. He is giving up a lot of Goals, Losing the shot battle and starting to slide in the expected goals metric. As far as Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Lucic we hear often that its a 3-2 league, and these players are keeping you in that battle.
Change Draisaitl’s line, perhaps even play him spot duty with McDavid, sometimes on Line 3 and sometimes on Line 1. Look for matchups, but give him a little rest. Let Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Lucic continue to roll.
*all stats and charts provided by Corsica Hockey