Saturday, May 13, 2006

Edmonton's Improved Goaltending (or Weakened Defence?)

During the most of the regular season, the Edmonton Oilers suffered from poor goaltending. The trio of Ty Conklin, Jussi Markkanen and Mike Morrison had very poor saves percentages while facing one of the lowest numbers of shots per game. This changed when the Oilers acquired Dwayne Roloson from Minnesota. He is clearly a better goalie than the previous goalies. The Oilers improved themselves shorterm, but I think it will cause longterm pain.

The situation has changed in the playoffs. The Edmonton Oilers now have allowed the most shots per game at 36.5. But the team is still winning. Their goals against average with Roloson is a respectable 2.60. One factor that can partially explain the high shots per game is the three overtime game against San Jose (more time on ice should mean more shots faced right?). But its clearly not a big enough factor - in fact San Jose only took 34 shots in the three overtime game. The team that took the most shots per game in the playoffs so far is the first round opponent Detroit. In fact Detroit took 39.7 shots per game against Edmonton (with that many shots its amazing they didn't win).

So Edmonton's goaltending is significantly better with Roloson in goal. But suprisingly their defence has started to allow far more shots. Edmonton will have to fix up those defensive problems if they are to eliminate San Jose.

But how many of those shots were good chances, and how many were weak shots that were seen all the way? I'm not going to argue that the Oilers have not been as stifling during the playoffs as they were during the regular season, because it's obvious they haven't, even with the number of shots they've blocked/deflected, but I don't know that the number of good chances has gone up as much as the shot clock would indicate.

I'd also like to point out that Edmonton has played three multiple-OT games. If you account for that, the adjusted shots/60 mins would be about 31.0 (against Detroit, 34.7). Still doesn't really absolve them, but the stats you cite are at least a little deceptive, being inflated by 5-5.5 shots/game. This isn't the regular season, where five minutes of overtime can largely be discounted (though the fact that Edmonton played as much OT as it did--probably about two complete games' worth--really makes their regular-season numbers even more impressive).

Oh, and Roloson's GAA is only 2.33, and that's after another three-goal regulation game. Again, dunno if you're accounting for the overtimes (which the NHL does in its official stats) or not.
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