Today we’ll dig into some of the mysteries of the Edmonton Oilers this season, such as what’s going on with the power play and why are so many fans now down on Adam Larsson
Oilers power play
There’s nothing wrong with the Oilers power play that some patience and practice won’t fix. Yes, the power play has just three goals so far and it’s ranked just 25th overall in the NHL, with a success rate of just 12 percent.
This is way, way down from last year when it was ranked 1st overall and scored on 29.5 per cent of its opportunities.
But this Oilers power play is getting its chances. It’s put 26 Grade A shots on net in just 47 power play minutes, good for 1.11 Grade A shot for every two minute power play.
Last season it had 168 Grade A shots in 313 power play minutes, 1.07 for every two minute power play.
The dangerous shots are there, just like they were last season. They’re just now going in.
But they will, so long as Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins keep making great plays.
As for Tyson Barrie, it’s a learning curve for him to fit into this group, but the skill is there, the shot is dangerous, so the patient approach is warranted with him as well. He’s not run this power play off a cliff. Bad puck luck is the main issue right now.
Perceptions of Adam Larsson
Let me put something to you that I bet you’ll agree with once you think about it for a minute or two:
It’s far more likely that we’ll remember a major defensive mistake by a player if that major mistake ends up in the Edmonton net.
Do you agree that this happens? I’m pretty sure it does.
I’m also pretty sure that in the short term it has a major impact on our perception of players.
If a player makes an ugly turnover but Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen makes a huge save, we’ll tend to forget that ugly turnover. But if that same turnover leads to a goal against, the screw up sticks in our memory.
This brings me to Adam Larsson.
If you do the video review of the first seven games of this season and go over all the Grade A chances (hard or difficult shots on Edmonton’s net), you’ll find Larsson has made five major mistakes on Grade A shots at even strength.
That’s not a lot.
Bear and Nurse have made 13 each, by comparison.
Larsson’s problem is that on four of those five major miscues, 80 per cent of them, the puck ended up in the Oilers net.
Compare that to last year when Larsson made 66 major mistakes on Grade A chances at even strength and 23 ended up in the Edmonton net — that’s just 34.8 per cent.
I will bet you a million billion dollars that for the rest of the season that 80 per cent of Adam Larsson’s major mistakes don’t end up as goals against. And as that percentage creeps down, our perception of Larsson will improve.
He’s not a great puck mover, obviously, but he’s a strong defenceman with a nasty streak and a strong stick. If the Oilers didn’t have a d-man like him, they’d be looking for one something like him.
This isn’t to say that he’s great value on his contract, or that he’s full value in return for Taylor Hall.
This is to say that our perception of him right now is a bit warped.
P.S. When it comes to creating scoring chances on the attack and refraining from major mistakes in his own zone, Connor McDavid is killing it right now. He’s playing the best two-way hockey of his career, I’ll suggest.
He could use some more power play points. But there’s nothing to complain about his two-way game.