February 9, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) makes a save on a shot by Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz (19) in the first period at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

A Reason to Be Optimistic About the Oilers' Chances of Making the Playoffs

So far, the Oilers have played a dozen games and currently sit in tenth place in the Western Conference. Should Oilers fans be optimistic or pessimistic about the team’s chances of making the playoffs?

The optimist will say, “The Oilers have done well considering their low shooting percentage. Once Hall, Eberle, and Nugent-Hopkins start scoring, the team will have more success.” But the pessimist will counter, “We shouldn’t expect Dubnyk to continue to play so well. His 0.928 save percentage will soon start to regress.” Both the optimist and the pessimist have good points.

Perhaps we should consider the Oilers’ PDO number. PDO is an “advanced stat” but it’s easy to understand and calculate. A team’s PDO number is the addition of its shooting percentage and save percentage at even strength. (You can find an excellent explanation of PDO here.)  Generally, a team’s PDO number will be right around 1 (or 100%).

The Oilers’ even strength shooting percentage and save percentage are 0.049 and 0.930 respectively. So the Oilers’ PDO number is 0.970.

0.049 + 0.930 = 0.979

Or you could do it this way:

4.9% + 93.0% = 97.9%

The Oilers’ PDO number is lower than 1 which normally means that we should expect the team’s performance should improve. Here’s what Cam Charron wrote about the Oilers’ PDO number:

It’s not so bad for the Edmonton Oilers, who are getting exceptional early season play from Devan Dubnyk, but they’re at the bottom of the league in team shooting percentage. Nobody is going to make the claim that that team doesn’t have enough talent to put pucks in nets, and I won’t either. Their shooting is due for a drastic turnaround. Taylor Hall has two goals on 33 shots at even strength. Jordan Eberle has one in 24. Four players have taken double digits in shots without scoring.

So if I were an Oilers fan (and I am), I would be cautiously optimistic about the team’s chances of making the playoffs. The Oilers are due for some good shooting luck, which will more than make up for any regression in Dubnyk’s save percentage. Now imagine if the they also started to take more shots!

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