The Oilers scored fewer tip-in and deflected goals than anyone else last year

A common criticism of the Oilers last year (maybe this year too): they won’t go to the tough areas in front of the net.

Want proof?

I happen to be doing some grunt work on shot types and shot distances, and as part of that, I pulled the even strength shot types by shot distance for every goal for every team last year. [data source: data files run through my own scripts]

Here’s what it looks like for tip-in and deflected goals, which are the kind of goals you often create when you park your buns in front of the net.  Frankly, you can ignore the entire damn thing, except for the highlighted line and cells.

Tip-In   Deflected Tip+Deflect
  Goals % of Goals Goals % of Goals Total % of Goals
ANA 44 14.5% 8 2.6% 52 17.1%
ARI 16 9.2% 7 4.0% 23 13.2%
BOS 23 10.6% 3 1.4% 26 11.9%
BUF 12 7.2% 6 3.6% 18 10.8%
CAR 13 6.8% 8 4.2% 21 11.0%
CBJ 23 9.5% 13 5.3% 36 14.8%
CGY 24 8.8% 4 1.5% 28 10.3%
CHI 27 8.8% 4 1.3% 31 10.1%
COL 17 7.3% 5 2.2% 22 9.5%
DAL 16 6.0% 19 7.1% 35 13.1%
DET 13 5.0% 19 7.3% 32 12.2%
EDM 5 2.5% 2 1.0% 7 3.4%
FLA 28 12.7% 2 0.9% 30 13.6%
L.A 31 13.9% 3 1.3% 34 15.2%
MIN 24 9.2% 26 10.0% 50 19.2%
MTL 24 9.4% 3 1.2% 27 10.6%
N.J 15 8.0% 2 1.1% 17 9.1%
NSH 13 5.0% 6 2.3% 19 7.3%
NYI 25 9.1% 7 2.5% 32 11.6%
NYR 32 10.6% 7 2.3% 39 12.9%
OTT 22 8.5% 7 2.7% 29 11.2%
PHI 30 13.4% 8 3.6% 38 17.0%
PIT 27 11.4% 2 0.8% 29 12.2%
S.J 22 9.4% 16 6.8% 38 16.2%
STL 37 13.8% 1 0.4% 38 14.1%
T.B 36 10.9% 6 1.8% 42 12.8%
TOR 29 13.4% 4 1.9% 33 15.3%
VAN 21 8.1% 12 4.6% 33 12.7%
WPG 12 4.9% 18 7.3% 30 12.2%
WSH 21 7.5% 4 1.4% 25 8.9%

Fewer goals, and a lower percentage of goals scored by tip-in and deflection than any other team. By far. Surprised? Me neither. (Well, maybe by how much worse the Oilers are).

Goal scorers via tip-in: Gazdic, Hall, Hendricks, Pouliot, Perron.  No surprises.  Nuge and Roy had the deflections.

No surprise either that the big tough teams in ANA, LA, and STL score a larger percentage of their goals by e.g. tip-in than others.

The Oilers cannot and should not pattern their game after those big heavy teams.  It’s the CHI and DET teams, speed, skill, and tenacity, that are the archetypes for the Oilers.

But go look at those guys.  Even they scored 3X to 4X as many goals (on a relative and absolute basis) from the tough areas as the Oilers did.

You know that Chia Pete and TMc know this already – they’ve pretty much talked about nothing but.  And they’re right.

The way goals are scored, and the size of that “tough goals” scorers list, both need to improve – A LOT – for this team to get meaningfully better.

14 thoughts on “The Oilers scored fewer tip-in and deflected goals than anyone else last year

  1. I couldn’t believe that the Oilers were this much worse than other teams. I thought it must be at least partially arena effects but digging into the numbers a bit the Oilers were just as bad on the road(3.8% tip or deflected) as at home. And other teams scored tip-ins and deflections at the usual rate when they were in Edmonton (12.5% in Edm vs. league average of 12.4%). I knew the Oil wouldn’t show up well in something like this but to have half as many goals (relative or absolute) as the second worst team is pretty pathetic. Any theories as to why the Oil show up so bad here?

    P.S. The Minnesota scorers definitely overcount deflections. The league wide average is 3.1% of goals and in Minny 11% of goals(by either team) are deflections. I’m sure a few other buildings are probably off but that was the one that jumped out at me.


    1. Hi, Matt. Thanks for that follow up work, that is outstanding.

      I too was rather shocked by the result when I first saw it. The only validation I did was to look at the %age of shot types across the league. The spread is not quite so staggering when it comes to those (suggesting some bad luck is involved) … but the Oilers are second last in the league in %age (to Chicago of all teams, though that reflects the large number of shots they take from other places), and also second last in shot count for those shot types (ahead of COL and just behind FLA), so it’s definitely not an unsupported result either.

      Thinking it could be a combination of the ‘spend less time in front’ (which gets you fewer shots), team mentality (since they don’t drive the net out of habit, it only affects the scorers, but also the long range shooters aren’t looking for shot tips and deflections) … and bad luck.

      Hopefully the last will revert this year and Todd M will change habits on the first two.

      The Oilers will never be a heavy net front team, but absolutely no reason they can’t have numbers like Detroit and Chicago.


  2. Agreed with McMatt that arena effects will have a substantial impact in some cases. Not sure if you have an easy way to control for that (beyond just using road data), but I’d be interested to see if the Oilers are still just as bad relative to even the worst teams if the data is adjusted to account for wayward scorers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a good point. I do like that Matt adjusted for the arena effects and found the results were still relatively stable. It’s the magnitude of the difference that is so astonishing. I had to triple check to make sure it wasn’t a problem with my data or my scripts (99% convinced it is not, but maybe someone enterprising will find out that it is!)

      Also bear in mind this is for goals actually scored, rather than attempts, so to some extent it combines a measure of attempts to score these goals from there as well as effectiveness at scoring those goals (the latter being exceedingly difficult to measure, and typically very volatile season to season when you do try to measure it).

      But as I said to Matt, the shot attempts for the Oilers also leave them near last (and not by nearly so wide a margin), so there is some bad luck I’d say, but unfortunately, it isn’t entirely just a small sample matter of a bad run of luck scoring goals either.


  3. If you have this data now available, could you check who assisted those Oilers goals? Were D-men shooting from point or something else? I would like to know if they were attempting to score goals that way or if those seven goals were just some bounces and good luck (I would guess you can score seven deflected goals “accidentally” in 82 games even if you weren’t trying to).


    1. I will add a little bit of flavour to that tomorrow (assists on the seven goals, plus distances on the shot attempts).

      With only seven goals, not sure there would be enough there to draw much in the way of conclusions from the assists.

      Its true that you could score those goals accidentally, but remember, it’s a certitude that other teams will have had accidental deflections as well. A good reason to drive the net and take shots. You create your own luck that way!

      it also works the other way – when you score that few goals relative to everyone else, there is likely some bad luck involved too. While the Oilers were shockingly far back of the pack for goals scored, they were “only” second last for tip/deflected shots, and “only” second last for shot count for tips/deflections.

      But given that wide a discrepancy between goals and shots in this case, I think there is more than luck.

      What may help the most is looking at the distances of those tip/deflected shot attempts. If the Oilers are much farther out than other teams, then we can say with confidence that the low goal count is likely to repeat (until they change their willingness to drive the net).

      If the distances are similar to other teams … then while I would hesitate to say these extra-absymal results are all due to bad luck (which would imply a rebound), at least *some* of it would be and we could expect at least a modest rebound.


  4. Wow. Unreal discovery. I can’t believe how much worse the Oilers are relative to the second worse team.

    I think Lander and Pouliot have it in them to be the net front guys and score dirty goals, but who else?

    None of Hall, Nuge, Ebs, CMD, Yakupov, or Purcell have that skillset.

    Seems like another 20 goals that should be very achievable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll be publishing a followup post this evening that digs in a little bit deeper:

      – a look at 2014 shot attempts and distances to see if the issue is truly an unwillingness to go to the tough areas, or if its a lack of skill at scoring from those areas, or both

      – a look at 2014 shot splits to see what influence rink bias might have had

      – a look back four seasons for tip/deflect goals and shots, to see whether last years results are a sustained (i.e. roster) thing for the Oilers, or anomalous even for them.

      Stay tuned!


  5. That makes more sense seeing where they sit in terms of shot attempts vs goals. I expect them to be near the bottom of the league but to be so far behind like they were with goals was a bit shocking. Taking a quick look at shot attempts the difference seems to be with tip-ins. Their percentage of deflections is actually close to league average(2.4% vs 2.45% league-wide). It will be interesting to see how much they improve this year.


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