As of this writing the Oilers are sitting in 15th in the NHL's overall standings, but they are 22nd in another important category: Shots On Goal per Game. It's a decent indicator of how things will go in the long term. I'll show you how.
Below is a chart which shows each NHL team's final position in the 2011-12 league standings. The column to the right is ordered by teams that outshot their opposition, in descending order. Next to that is the difference between the final point standings and the shot differential standings. A positive number is given to a team that ranked higher in the point standings than in the outshooting standings.
|RANK||POINT STANDINGS||OUTSHOOTING STANDINGS||DIFFERENCE|
|2||New York Rangers||Detroit||+9|
|3||St. Louis||San Jose||+1|
|11||Phoenix||New York Rangers||+10|
|12||San Jose||New Jersey||-9|
|15||Washington||New York Islanders||+8|
|27||New York Islanders||Calgary||-12|
The "outshooting standings" column is calculated by subtracting a team's shots against per game from their shots for per game, after which teams are ranked in descending order.
I've highlighted instances where a team finished within +/-5 in both columns. Twelve times a team was within five notches in both columns, both at the top and bottom of the league. Only six times did a team move more than ten spots. In other words, it's difficult to move up the standings if you don't outshoot the opposition.
That may sound like a truism, but it doesn't always seem so simple. You may say that good teams are bound to outshoot bad ones. The Oilers are in 22nd place in shots for, despite all of the talent up front and some good puck movers on the back end in Petry and JSchultz. They are currently suffering from a lack of willingness to shoot the puck, not a lack of ability. In the end, hockey has a lot to do with averages, and the more rubber you put toward the net, the better your odds of success.
The Oilers have been winning on the opposite principle so far, having been outshot in every game but two. That cannot continue if the team expects to go anywhere. They have the tools to do it, now they need to find the way.