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

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Saturday, 7 January 2012

01/07/12 The Halfway Point

We've arrived at the half way point of the season and it's already over once again. Here is a look at why that is the case, and also the points pace of some of the Oilers' notable players.

Last year the Oilers were 13-21-7 after 41 games on their way to another 30th place finish. This year they are sitting at 16-22-3, which is improvement, right? Right?!

The Oilers are 28th in the league in Shots For with 1084 so far. The league leaders are the Canucks, who have taken 260 more shots than Edmonton with just one more game played. The Oilers are a lowly 29th in Shots For Per Game with 26.4. Only Anaheim is worse. If you want your players to take a minimum of two shots per game, the only Oilers players with acceptable totals so far are Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Smyth and Hall. Only Smyth hasn't been hit by the injury bug, and hopefully Eberle's damage isn't too severe.

Things are a little better defensively, with the Oil sitting in 25th in Shots Against and 20th in Shots Against Per Game. They need more from Devan Dubnyk, and his 3.15 GAA and .903 Sv% combined with a 5-10 record. If, for argument's sake, we assume Khabibulin's numbers would be the same if he had played every game this year, he would have allowed about nine fewer goals than Dubnyk, which has to count for a few wins and points in the standings. As it is, Khabibulin has appeared in 26 games and allowed 59 goals, while Dubnyk has appeared in 17 and allowed 50.

The powerplay is still a point of strength, sitting 2nd in the league at 21.3%. Last year the powerplay finished with just 14.5% efficiency, so fans should count their blessings on that score.

The penalty kill is still respectable at 83.8% and ninth place, which is almost 7% improvement over last year's 29th-ranked PK at 77%.

It's the five-on-five Goals For/Against Ratio that has started to slip. The Oilers are 20th in that regard at 0.90. For some context, the Boston Bruins are sitting at 2.09 currently and are first in the league 5X5.


Jordan Eberle (assuming that he doesn't miss any time, which seems unlikely) is on pace for 34 goals and 86 points.

Taylor Hall: 31 goals and 65 points

Ryan Smyth: 30 goals and 64 points

Nugent-Hopkins (assuming that he misses ten games): 25 goals and 66 points

Horcoff: 16 goals and 44 points

Jones: 24 goals and 40 points

Gagner: 11 goals and 44 points, although he could finish higher because he's collected 18 of his 20 points in his last 21 games played

Gilbert (assuming that he returns next game): 6 goals and 31 points

Hemsky: 7 goals and 35 points

Potter: 8 goals and 35 points

Belanger: 2 goals and 20 points

The Oilers have four players who can still hit 60 or more points, and that's not including Gagner who has been on fire of late and has really seized the opportunity that's been presented to him. Last year the Oilers finished with one 20 goal man (Hall) and this year they have five players on pace for 20 and three on pace for 30. The way Taylor Hall has played recently it won't be out of the question to see him score more than the 31 goals he's on pace for. There's a clear need for an offensive-defenseman, but Gilbert and Potter are having respectable years offensively. Notably, Nugent-Hopkins is still on pace for 60+ points even with a substantial injury factored in, which means that he should still be headlining the Calder conversation if he can resume his previous pace. Hopefully Eberle's stellar season won't be derailed.

The season may be over, but at least we have some stars-in-the-making to watch down the stretch (injuries notwithstanding). Last year no Oilers player scored more than 43 meager points, so count your blessings even if the team does finish in the lottery yet again.

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