2) Getting killed on the penalty kill
We won’t sit here and claim the Oilers’ penalty kill unit was lights out last season. However, they still did well enough to finish the 2022-23 campaign ranked 14th in the NHL, with an effectiveness of 83.5 percent.
Now, this seems like light years away from how poorly the Oilers are performing up to this point in 2023-24. As of Tuesday morning they are ranked second-bottom in the entire NHL, at a shocking 68.9 percent.
Helping the Oilers reach this dismal point, was a disastrous showing on the man-disadvantage during Monday night. The Canucks went 3-for-6 on the power play, which is quite simply unacceptable.
Yes, the Canucks are ranked third in the NHL in power play percentage at the time of posting. However, that overall percentage of 32.6 percent certainly got a big bump based on how they performed versus the Oilers.
If the penalty kill play was the only thing holding back the Oilers, it would be one thing. However, this is just one aspect of the story behind the team’s terrible start to the season and it’s the last thing they need to compound their problems.
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Almar Reyes wrote on Monday, about trying to get to the root of the penalty kill issues. This includes considering various aspects, such as player personnel, coaching strategies, and special teams coordination.
The timing of the second and third power play goals by the Canucks, alludes to the aforementioned point of the mental fragility of the Oilers. The two goals came in the final period, making the score 5-2 and then 6-2.
Even allowing for the sixth goal coming with less than a minute to go and the game already over, the Oilers just seemed to give up. Particularly after they had a goal disallowed early in the third period, which would have brought them back to within 4-3 and a chance at getting something from the game.
Instead, the Oilers just seemed to mentally check out, resigned to losing yet again. And when you check out of a game, it spells even more trouble than usual when trying to contend with a penalty kill situation.