Wednesday, 18 January 2012
On Tuesday night the Edmonton Oilers were outshot for the 27th time this season in just 45 games. They've outshot their opponents 13 times and tied in shots the rest. Injuries and misfortune aside, this team simply does not shoot enough.
When outshooting the opposition the Oilers are a .500 team at 6-6-1, but when they are outshot their record is much less kind at 8-17-2. Edmonton is sitting in 29th in the NHL in total shots for and also in shots for per game. Why is that significant?
Aside from the obvious implications of the Oilers' record when outshooting their opponents, the top ten teams in shots per game are all sitting in playoff position right now.
Obviously, shots on goal are affected by a team's ability to spend time in the offensive zone, so it makes sense that the best teams would be closest to their opponents' net more often than to their own, and that that would be reflected by the number of shots they take. The Oilers do not have the personnel to dominate zone play just yet, and so they aren't getting enough shots on goal.
However, the Oilers have outshot some very competent teams this year, including Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Boston, Ottawa, and Colorado; to name the more prominent ones. The Oilers are certainly banged up and they missed Taylor Hall in a big way on Tuesday, but going forward this team must be composed of players that are going to put pucks on net.
Interestingly, the Oilers' highest shooting players are some of their newest ones. Well, sorta.
Ryan Smyth is new again and he's leading the way in shots with 117 in 45 games. After that it's the H2E line. Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins are second through fourth in total shots on goal this year. Aside from Smyth they are the only Oilers who are averaging more than two shots per game with 3.3, 2.3 and 2.1 shots per game respectively.
In the last four years the winner of the Stanley Cup had no fewer than seven players averaging 2 shots per game or more, so the Oilers have some work to do.