Oilers numbers show "new coach bump" after Woodcroft hire

Mar 3 2022, 8:06 pm

The Edmonton Oilers awoke Thursday on the outside looking into the Stanley Cup Playoffs picture.Ā 

That’s the bad news.Ā 

The good news is the Oilers are trending in the right direction under the recently hired Jay Woodcroft.Ā 

Edmonton, who is 30-21-3 this season and on the wrong side of a tiebreaker with the Dallas Stars for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference, has seen statistical improvements in almost every facet of their game.Ā 

“I think our club’s done a very good job, and that’s a credit to our players,” Woodcroft told media Thursday. “When we came in a few weeks ago…we being Dave and myself and joining the team up in Edmonton…we wanted to pay our players the compliment of high expectations. What do I mean by that? I mean we wanted to have high expectations for us on a day-in, day-out basis. I have been nothing but impressed by the work ethic, attention to detail, and dedication of our players.

“We know what’s before us and we’re going to be systematic in our process of taking care of the day’s business.”

Call it the “new coach bump”. But if it extends, the Oilers could be in a good position down the stretch.Ā 

And it’s started.Ā 

The obvious starting point is in Edmonton’s winning percentage. The Oilers, through 44 games under Dave Tippett, had a .557 mark. A small sample size under Woodcroft, but a .700 winning mark is certainly improved.Ā 

It’s a product of both the team’s goals-for rising, from 3.18 with Tippett to 3.60 with Woodcroft, and the goals-against absolutely plummeting from 3.32 to 2.50.Ā 

It’s not the only improvement. Edmonton’s shot attempts percentage has improved, from 52.5% to 54.0%, a result in part of the same shots on goal output– an identical 33.4 — but dropping shots against by almost two full pucks per game.Ā 

More importantly, on the shots that do get through, goaltenders are making the stops.Ā 

At five-on-five through 44 games under Tippett, Edmonton’s tenders had a .909 save percentage. That’s up to .935, thanks in large part to Mikko Koskinen’s resurgence of late.Ā 

Koskinen is sporting a .936 save percentage and a 2.12 goals-against average in his four with Woodcroft at the helm — a stark contrast from his 3.15 goals-against and .900 save percentage marks.Ā 

As start as Koskinen’s splits are, forward Derek Ryan’s might be even more drastic.Ā 

Ryan had six points (three goals, three assists) while averaging 10:58 of ice time in 40 games. He’s got eight points (five goals, three assists) in almost three more minutes per game.Ā 

Connor McDavid has been his usual self, pumping through 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 10 games, but has also seen his defensive metrics improve, too. His Corsi-for numbers are marginally improved, and the Oilers captain has been on the ice for just seven goals against at even-strength.Ā 

More impressively, Leon Draisaitl has been on for one five-on-five goal against despite averaging 17:16 of ice time per game. He was on for 41 in 44 games prior — worst among forwards on the team.Ā 

Overall, individual performances are generally up across the board, as are team metrics.Ā 

And while they haven’t climbed in the standings as a result, the Oilers are in a good spot to feel good about their playoff chances.

Aaron VickersAaron Vickers

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