Edmonton Oilers Stock Report: McDavid Magic keeps Oilers riding high

Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

I am running out of ways to say that the Edmonton Oilers had another good week in the win column. After another pair of wins this past week, the Oilers now sit third in the league with a record of 9-2-0.

This past week was headlined by a thrilling comeback win against the New York Rangers, after falling behind 4-1, the Oilers stormed back for a 6-5 overtime victory.

As has been the case all season the Oilers have kept fans happy by winning games. And as we all know, winning cures all. And it even helps distract from underlying problems with the team’s play, but more on that later.

Trending up: Connor McDavid

This is Connor McDavid’s world, we are just living in it.

Everyone knows McDavid is the best hockey player in the world right now. But even then, he still has a goal or two every year to remind you just how good he is.

The Oilers’ captain is now up to nine goals and 23 points on the year. That puts him on an absurd 67 goal, 171 point pace. He couldn’t possibly keep this up all season long … Right?

And the fact that that is even a question speaks to just how other-worldly McDavid is. At any given moment in any given game, he can just decide that the Oilers are going to win that game. We saw it against the Rangers, he just flipped the switch and everyone immediately knew there was a zero percent chance Edmonton lost that game. It does not matter how many defenders stand between him and the goal, nothing will deter him.

Trending down: Nugent-Hopkins-Draisaitl-Yamamoto line

Let me be clear, this is not to suggest any of these players are bad. Draisaitl is tied for the league lead in points after all. That being said, this trio has not been a good line at even strength this year. Going into the game against the Red Wings, they had just a 42.6 percent expected goals rate when they are on the ice. Yet mystifyingly had outscored their opponents four to zero when they were on the ice (data courtesy of Moneypuck.com).

I am a big believer in the process over results. When the numbers look as alarming as they do for this trio, I tend to rely on that more than the number of goals they score versus how many they allow. The fact is this line gives up chances, they had just been fortunate enough to not have any of those chances end up in their own net. That is, until Tuesday night’s game.

Draisaitl and Yamamoto were on the ice for two goals against, while Nugent-Hopkins was on the ice for just a single goal against (data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick).

I am not exactly sure what the Oilers should do with their top-six forwards. We all know that the duo of Draisaitl and McDavid is incredible, but what do you do with the second line? Do you trust Zach Hyman enough to let him drive that line with Nugent-Hopkins? Whatever the answer, the Oilers do need to find it sooner rather than later.

Trending up: Jesse Puljujarvi

Four goals in three games this past week for Puljujarvi, what more could you ask for?

On top of the goals he has piled up to begin this season, the metrics back up his play this year. Puljujarvi is currently third on the Oilers with a 56.1 Corsi for percentage, fourth with a 56.5 expected goals percentage, and fifth with a 51.9 high danger chances for percentage.

Yes, Puljujarvi is playing on a line with McDavid which will inflate his value. That being said, Puljujarvi is showing he belongs on a line with him. Even if Puljujarvi was lower in the lineup, he would still be a good player. He is simply capitalizing on the opportunity he has been given.

Trending down: Five-on-five play

I have stayed away from this topic since the first edition of this stock report. However, I feel the need to revisit it again here.

Let’s start simple, as a team the Edmonton Oilers have scored 47 goals this season. Of those 47 goals, 16 have come on special teams. That is 34 percent of the team’s goals so far, the highest share in the league, with the next closest team being the Ducks at 30 percent.

So the Oilers get a lot out of their special teams, so what? Well next let us take a look at what the Oilers give up in terms of chances at five-on-five. Edmonton is currently 18th in the league in Corsi for percentage (50.1), 19th in expected goals percentage (49.3), and 20th in high danger chances percentage (47.6). If you want to dive deeper into how many chances the Oilers allow, they are 25th in terms of total high danger chances they have allowed with 119.

Out of the 11 games, the Edmonton Oilers have played this season, they have had a below 50 percent share of the categories above in six of them. That means that six out of 11 games they have been outplayed at five-on-five, not what you would expect from the third-place team in the league.

The number one thing I am evaluating this season for the Oilers are playoff habits, I said it before and I will say it again. The best playoff teams are those who dominate at even strength, and right now Edmonton is average at best. Yes, the goal share is going their way now, but it won’t forever.