Sunday, 5 February 2012
02/05/12 Signs of Progress?
There are 30 games left on the schedule for the Oilers' 2011-12 season, and plenty of questions to be asked about how things are going. There have been a lot of criticisms, and long stretches of the year have been a struggle. But are things getting better? Below is a look at a few key areas after 52 games.
Let's start with the team record. The Oilers are currently sitting at 21-26-5 with 47 points. After 52 games in 2010-11 they were 15-29-8 with 38 points. The Oilers had 38 points after 52 games in 2009-10 as well, with a record of 16-30-6. That's 38 of a possible 104 points, while this year they've collected 47 of a possible 104.
The improvement isn't staggering, and it isn't going to cause anyone to jump out of their seats, but isn't that exactly the kind of marginal push forward that we all expected?
The Oilers' worst stretch of games this season were from November 26th to January 21st, where they went 5-18-2 in a 25 game span. They were without Ryan Whitney, Cam Barker, Tom Gilbert, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Corey Potter for all or part of that time. Hall was the quickest of the group to return, having missed 8 games including the one against Colorado where the injury occurred. Jordan Eberle was also out for 5 games in that downswing for the Oilers (including the one against Dallas), and in those games the Oil were 1-3-1. Without Hall the Oilers were 2-5-1.
It's a familiar tune from me at this point, but the Oilers aren't deep enough to be able to sustain those kinds of injuries at once at still remain competitive. Is there any team that could?
After 52 games last year the Oilers had:
- scored 113 goals
- allowed 173 goals against
- a goal differential of -60
- scored 23 powerplay goals
- allowed 50 powerplay goals against
Despite the injuries, this year they have:
- scored 135 goals (+22 over last year)
- allowed 148 goals against (+25 over last year)
- a goal differential of -13 (+47 over last year)
- scored 43 powerplay goals (+20 over last year)
- allowed 34 powerplay goals against (+16 over last year)
Obviously there's also the offensive strides taken by the Oilers' young, talented stars. Jordan Eberle has already eclipsed his team-leading 43 points from last season and is on pace for a lot more. It stands to reason that no fewer than five Oilers players will put up more than 43 points; including Gagner, Smyth, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle.
This is still a team in 28th place in the NHL and there are still plenty of holes to fill, but there are signs that this thing has started to come around. When you're starting at the bottom that's not an especially difficult goal to accomplish, however. What this data shows is only that the team is improving, but there's a long way to go before we can think about Stanley.