The Oilers took 13 shots last night in 6:39 of 5v4 time, a rate of 117.3/60 minutes of 5v4 time, close to triple their rate of 41.5 over the past six seasons, a rate that hasn’t been any better with the addition of the various Golden Boys over the past few years. Obviously, they aren’t going to take 117.3 shots per 60 this year but this is a pretty promising thing. Looking at the goals, I noticed something that I thought was worth mentioning (and that I think is promising).
Three frames worth noting here. The first is right after the faceoff. There’s Gordon in front of the net, Hemsky on the wall, Justin Schultz on the point, Taylor Hall in the middle and then Yakupov on the far side. This isn’t what the Oilers have done historically – they’ve generally had two guys down low for the like the past decade or so, looking to create that cross crease pass for the tap-in.
Schultz has given the puck to Hemsky and skated out of the shot. Hemsky’s passed it to Hall, who is being challenged by the Jet penalty killer. Note Gordon swinging back to the front of the net – he’d dropped off to provide Hemsky with an outlet. Hall proceeds to give the puck back to Hemsky.
After Hall gives the puck back to Hemsky, he kind of glides down into the slot a little bit. Crucially, the Jets PKer follows him – he doesn’t want to give Hemsky a pass to an uncovered Hall in the slot. The effect of this is that Schultz is really wide open at the point. A quick pass from Hemsky and Schultz floats a shot through for Gordon to knock down and into the net.
This is right after the faceoff. Notice how Belov was trying to set up to be in a position to take a one timer off a quick pass from the boards – that’s him behind David Perron. He quickly realizes that this won’t be how it works and retreats to his position.
The play has gone down to the corner and come back by this point. That’s Perron at the point with the puck, with options to Mark Arcobello, who is coming back towards him and Anton Belov, who is available for the one timer.
A shot is generated and it rattles around in front of the net before being knocked home by Joensuu.
I think that this is going to be a thing, in terms of how the Oilers set up – it was noticeable again right off a faceoff in the third period, with Hemsky, Hall and Schultz running the exact same thing that led to the Gordon goal, basically setting up a triangle to try and isolate a PKer and create a clean shot. It almost led to a goal on the same PP, with Perron in the Justin Schultz spot and the Oilers having three guys strung out across the top of the zone against two Jets. Perron shot, there was a big rebound and only Dustin Byfuglien’s large legs prevented a goal.
What’s striking, as someone who’s winced watching the Oilers PP for the last decade is how they were looking to generate shots from the top, as opposed to looking to create the empty net with a pass down low. This is more akin to how Detroit and San Jose do things and I tend to think that being willing to shoot from the top has a couple of benefits, in that it starts to pull the PKers out towards you, opening up some of the seams and, possibly, some of those cross crease passes that the Oilers love so much.
With the talent that the Oilers have, they should have an awesome PP. If they’re moving towards a structure that’s similar to that that San Jose has used historically, I’d have to think it can only be a good thing. Extremely early days but I liked what I saw last night.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org