Continuing on with my series of Break it Down posts. The others can be found in the following location.
Next up, special teams. Last year I had these in separate posts, but this year I decided to combine them.
The Oilers last year had a average powerplay (18th) but got just hammered on the penalty kill (26th).
I wish I could see what the splits were for the PP – with Hemsky and without Hemsky (* – we can, see footnote – Racki). I think that Hemsky will again be the player that sets up the powerplay, and hopefully Foster can replace the shot of Souray (from what I’ve heard Foster has a killer shot). I’m also hoping for more down-low work (other teams focused on blocking Souray and it worked too well against us). I also like to think that we got a whole lot more finishing ability with the kids this year.
As for the PK, holy crap did they suck last year. I’m not sure which part played a bigger role however. Could have been the goaltending. Could have been the lack of PK talent. Could have been the league worst at faceoffs (30th @ 46.4%). Regardless, what was an usual strength of the Oilers turned into an absolute shit show.
Now lets see what we are working with:
First a quick note. If I put a question mark (?) behind the name its because I’m not sure they can perform the role, but can’t think of anyone else that could possibly play that position. Another note is that I have the two PP and two PK lines, but also have a bunch of extra players listed. These to me I feel could replace any of the players currently listed on the top two lines.
As for what I see, looks as though we could have a pretty good PP with lots of talent available (although we will probably replace Smid with a forward). Big concern here would be faceoff wins as its important to get the entire two minutes on the PP and not just 1:30.
For the PK, looks like we may be screwed again. I am assuming Jones can PK however I am not sure he has done that at any point in his career to date (to lazy to look too). But other than that we don’t have enough penalty killers. I guess they are hoping some of the kids turn out to have that skill.
Strengths on the PP would be lots of kids who have some skill putting the puck into the net in their other leagues. And Hemsky.
On the PK, we don’t have enough forwards that have that skill set, or enough defensive defensemen.
See weaknesses above. That is exactly what the team is missing (and mentioned in the other two Break it Downs, and in the comments). We need a good 3rd line forward who can win faceoffs and kill penalties, and a solid d-man who knows his position and can eat up the tough minutes.
This might be a tough year on the kill. If we can’t shore up that weak area, and can’t stop taking penalties then the year might turn ugly. Last year I think we knocked ourselves out of a lot of games with the horrid penalty kill and taking lots of stupid penalties. This year could be more of the same if we are not careful. That said, some of the kids might come in and show us that they can kill the penalties. Solved from within. I predict 20th in the league unless they get help or a kid steps up.
Last year the PP was average, and I have a feeling that this year we might move up a few spots on that list. We may have just found (drafted) that player to work with Hemsky and convert on all of those beauty passes. I’m predicting 12th in the league.
* – PP Stats with and without Hemmer – Racki:
With Hemmer in lineup:
22 / 104 for 21.2% (14th in NHL at the time, but if they maintained that pace, that would be 4th overall at season’s end)
Without Hemsky in lineup:
30 / 197 for 15.2% (this would be good for 28th overall, if they finished 15.2% on the season)