a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

Welcome to Oil Acumen. All Oilers, all the time... Occasionally other stuff.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

10/09/11 60.0 Powerplay Essentials

Oil Acumen has been on hiatus due to utter computer failure, but now returns (for real this time).

The shiny new 2011-12 NHL season is almost upon us and there has been an entire summer to fill fans with hope and optimism. There has been a great deal of speculation about the roster movement and how much the additions and subtractions will actually improve this team. Today we'll look at the powerplay, and whether or not fans can expect it to be better than 27th in the league.

The teams that had the top five powerplays in the NHL were Vancouver, San Jose, Anaheim, Chicago and Detroit. All five were playoff teams, so a deadly powerplay can certainly propel a team up the standings and into the post season. What do successful powerplay teams have that makes them good? And, perhaps more importantly, what do the bottom 5 powerplay performers lack?

TeamD > 50 ptsD > 40 ptsD > 30 ptsF > 50 ptsF > 40 ptsTeam FO Rank
Vancouver (1st)112451st
San Jose111672nd
Detroit (5th)123443rd

This chart shows a few of the weapons that the top five powerplay performers weilded. All of these teams had at least one defenseman with 50 or more points, excluding Chicago; and Chicago had Seabrook with 48 points and Keith with 45. They all had good scoring from their top defensemen, and aside from San Jose they had more than one option on the backend to produce points. The depth of scoring depth from the forwards on these teams speaks for itself. All had at least 4 forwards with 50 or more points, which is a plateau that no Oiler forward reached last year.

What about faceoffs? Vancouver, San Jose and Detroit ranked first, second and third in the league in faceoff winning percentage, but Anaheim managed to have the third best powerplay in the NHL while finishing 26th in team faceoff wins. Chicago too was just average on draws.

Here are the numbers of the bottom five powerplay teams:

TeamD > 50 ptsD > 40 ptsD > 30 ptsF > 50 ptsF > 40 ptsTeam FO Rank
Nashville (26th)0122418th
New Jersey000239th
Florida (30th)000044th

It should come as no surprise that the bottom five powerplay teams didn't have a lot of offensive depth, but there are some interesting numbers here. First, none of these teams had a 50 point defenseman (although Shea Weber had 48 points for Nashville). Weber was the only defenseman on any of these teams to have even 40 points, and the bottom 4 teams didn't even have a defenseman with 30 points.

Interestingly, the 4th best faceoff team in the league - the Florida Panthers - were 30th on the powerplay. In fact, only the Oilers were abysmal on draws among this group. While winning faceoffs is certainly important, these numbers show that a team can be good on draws and have a bad powerplay, and the opposite is also true.

So what does this mean for the Oilers? Edmonton was the worst performer in all of the categories above, so they will need improvement everywhere. The good news is that if the team stays healthy they should be able to ice a number of 40-50 point forwards; always assuming that the youngsters don't take a step back. That will certainly help the powerplay to improve. All of the best powerplay teams had at least 4 players with 50 points.

The trouble comes on the blueline. Ryan Whitney is the closest thing the Oilers have to a 50 point defenseman, which is a feat he did manage with Pittsburgh in 2006-07. His ankle is a major question mark, but if he can produce like he did last year he could be the Oilers' man. If he isn't healthy, or his production slows, it will be a major problem. There is no other defenseman on the Oilers' depth chart that is capable of producing like Whitney, and certainly no Weber or Boyle or Erhoff.

As with all things in sport, a lot of things are going to have to go the Oilers' way for the powerplay to break into the upper echelon of the league. But if it does, the team will be that much closer to the playoffs.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back. You should sign up an account at Oilogosphere.com and introduce yourself. Post a blog in the My Oilogosphere and reach out to new fans.

    Nice work with the stats.