As has been the running theme this season, today we'll take a look at the Oilers' key numbers after a milestone game (this time it's game number 30) in order to understand how much better they are than the team that finished 30th last year.
As hard as the Oilers have been to watch in the last five weeks or so, this team is still improved in almost every meaningful category. As expected, they don't have the look of a playoff team just yet, but they are taking steps in the right direction. First we'll look at the Goals For and Against.
Goals For After 30 Games in 2010-11: 77
Goals For This Year: 82
Despite massively improved offensive performances virtually across the board, the Oilers are only scoring slightly more this year than they were last year at this time. On the other hand, Edmonton's 82 Goals For puts them in 11th in the NHL and 12th in Goals For per Game.
Goals Against After 30 Games in 2010-11: 101
Goals Against This Year: 77
77 Goals Against makes Edmonton tied for 13th in the NHL and 13th in Goals Against per Game as well.
All told, the Oilers had a -24 GF/GA ratio last year. This year they have a +5 in that regard, which is an improvement of +29 GF/GA from last season to this season at this time.
Shots For After 30 Games in 2010-11: 757
Shots For This Year: 791
The difference isn't great but the Oilers are shooting more. However, they still are not shooting enough to win consistently. The Oilers are 23rd in total Shots For and 28th in Shots For per Game. Interestingly, only Anaheim (29th in NHL) and Minnesota (1st in NHL) are worse in the latter category.
Shots Against After 30 Games in 2010-11: 1039
Shots Against This Year: 906
The Oilers have allowed 133 fewer shots this year than last, but again it's not enough. Edmonton is 21st in Shots Against, but they are better (14th) in Shots Against per Game. Last year the Oilers were 30th in the NHL and 21st in Shots Against and Shots Against per Game.
The Oilers allowed 282 more shots than they took after 30 games last year, while this year they have allowed 115 more than they have taken. That's good for a difference of +167 over last year at this time, but they are still getting consistently outshot.
Powerplay Goals For After 30 Games in 2010-11: 18 (16%)
Powerplay Goals For This Year: 24 (19.8%)
The powerplay has been one particular bright spot this season, thanks in large part to the wizardry of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers have scored the 4th-most powerplay goals in the league this year, and their 19.8% efficiency puts them 7th in the league. Last year the Oilers finished 27th on the powerplay.
Powerplay Goals Against After 30 Games in 2010-11: 33 (71.3% Kill Rate)
Powerplay Goals Against This Year: 22 (83.1% Kill Rate)
The penalty kill has wavered of late and like many of these numbers it's still riding on early season success. However, an improvement of 11.8% over last year at this time is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Last year the Oilers finished 29th on the PK at 77%, which is only marginal improvement over the first 30 games. It may be too much to hope that the PK will improve by almost 6% by the end of this year as well, but if it can remain at the current level it will be passable. 83.1% puts the Oilers ever so slightly ahead of Calgary in the overall standings at 13th in the NHL.
As you can see, things are clearly looking up. The Oilers teased us all into thinking that they were already a playoff team with their early season heroics. Coming in we all knew that this team had a long, long way to go from back-to-back 30th place finishes to a playoff spot, but that they were improved enough to get out of the basement. These numbers are in line with what we expected, and they won't go unnoticed across the NHL if they continue over a full season.