The Edmonton Oilers are down 2–1 in their second round series to the Vegas Golden Knights, and the hole they’re in has raised several questions with the team.
Heading into this year’s postseason, the Oilers were the hottest team in the league, seemingly unbeatable by anyone as they barreled into the playoffs. They were riding an incredible rookie season from Stuart Skinner that resulted in a Calder Trophy nomination, were getting depth scoring from all over the lineup, and looked to be much deeper than in years prior.
5v5 Individual Play
In the second round, however, the Oilers are struggling mightily at 5v5, especially on the offensive side.
At 5v5 so far in this series, the Oilers have scored a total of four goals in three games, three of which came from Leon Draisaitl. Warren Foegele is the only other player with a 5v5 goal. Zero from Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, Evan Bouchard. Only eight players have a 5v5 point on these four goals, too.
Using data from Natural Stat Trick, only four Oilers players have an individual expected goals greater than 0.3 over the course of the series at 5v5, compared to 10 for the Golden Knights
Right now, the Oilers’ depth has failed to win matchups against the Golden Knights’ depth. The top of the Oilers roster is doing their best to create, but it dries up real fast after that. With a very evenly matched series, depth could be the difference maker and Vegas is winning that battle right now.
5v5 Team Play
In terms of overall team play, the Oilers are creating the higher volume of shots and scoring chances, but are consistently getting beat in the 5v5 expected goals department.
What sticks out with the possession numbers is the disparity between shot attempts (CF) and high danger chances (HDCF). Over the series so far, the Oilers have led in 5v5 shot attempt share in two of the three games, led in scoring chance share in all three games, and high danger chances in Game 1. Possession wise, the Oilers are throwing more pucks towards the Vegas net than they are allowing, but Vegas is firing the higher percentage of high quality chances.
This is usually indicative of a team that is getting a lot of lower quality chances through at the expense of taking time to create higher percentage opportunities, or a team with fewer second and third chances.
On the goals side, the Golden Knights are way ahead in actual 5v5 goals scored with almost 70% of the share over the course of the series. In expected goals, they’ve led in all three games, even in the 5–1 blowout loss in Game 2.
The Oilers need more
Vegas is a very good team. They are an even match for the Oilers and it looks like depth is going to be the tilt in this series. So far, the Oilers are getting outplayed at 5v5 and they will need to make up for this if they want to come out ahead in the series.
All season long, the Oilers depth has been a strong suit for them, so this shouldn’t be a concern, at least not yet. It’s only 2–1, and the Oilers will no doubt come out strong tonight after the loss in Game 3.
Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire