Tencer's Blog: Fun with numbers
They say your best penalty killer has to be your goaltender. Well, the Oilers have the 3rd ranked PK in the NHL right now at a 92.3% kill rate, and Khabibulin has been their best penalty killer. How good? He hasn't allowed a powerplay goal in the six games that he's played, turning away all 25 shots against.
And, let's not leave Devan Dubnyk out of the equation here. He has suffered losses in 2 of his 3 starts, but has posted a 0.920 SV% in those games and, in starts against Pittsburgh and Calgary, allowed just 1 and 2 goals against respectively.
After being an awful faceoff team for the last bunch of years, have improved that statistic to put them in the middle of the pack at 16th in the NHL. The team's two major draw taker's, Eric Belanger and Shawn Horcoff, are predictably leading the way in this stat. Belanger is clicking at 59% and Horcoff is at 53.3%.
Of course, all of these elements combine to lead to a stunning turnaround in the penalty kill for the club, which again ranks 3rd in the NHL right now, behind only Pittsburgh and Buffalo. In the last 3 seasons, the Oilers PK finished 27th, 26th and 29th.
7 of the team's 17 goals have come on the powerplay, meaning that they're averaging basically 1 goal each game 5-on-5. There's not an NHL team that is scoring less than Edmonton right now, as the Oilers are the only group averaging less than 2 goals per game (1.89). The team misses Ales Hemsky dearly, and will count on offensive contributions from Magnus Paajarvi, Eric Belanger and Sam Gagner to kick in sometime soon.
There's no question that the schedule for the Oilers is about to toughen up. October featured 11 games, with 8 of them on home ice at Rexall Place. 6 were against teams that made the playoffs last year, and 5 against teams that missed. In November, the schedule gets very compressed, with the team playing 14 games. They'll be on the road for 10 of those, including a 6 game road trip to start the month. All 6 of the games on that trip are against teams that made the playoffs a year ago.