Officiating in the NHL has been a hot topic this season. As coaches, players and fans continue to publicly bash the league and its calls and non-calls (a fact the NHL would love to stop), the Edmonton Oilers may have a genuine complaint.
Prior to any action on March 13th, the Oilers ranked last in the NHL with 171 total power plays. That alone could give Oilers fans plenty to argue about, but it’s the discrepancy in power plays compared to other teams that seems a bit off.
Consider this chart via Oilers Nation:
It’s pretty interesting seeing which teams have earned the most power plays (Colorado, Chicago and Calgary) compared to the teams that have earned the fewest (Edmonton, Anaheim and Toronto).
Historically, the Oilers are close to entering some unique territory. With 171 power plays through 68 games, the Oilers are averaging 2.51 power plays per game. That’s on pace to be the second-worst percentage ahead of just the 1977 Atlanta Flames who had 191 power play opportunities (2.39 per game) back in 1977-78.
The Oilers’ struggles to find man advantages are puzzling, particularly when just a year ago every hockey outlet was praising the team and Connor McDavid for drawing an insane number of power plays. What’s changed?
Some will point to the coaching and the team’s overall approach, but one theory suggests that some officials are struggling to keep up with McDavid’s speed, leading to fewer awarded penalties. That may partially explain McDavid’s slide from 0.61 penalties drawn per game last year to his 0.42 average this season, though there’s no firm proof supporting that theory.
Maybe all of those conspiracy theorists in Edmonton are on to something?