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Edmonton Oilers Outshot 1983-1988

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One thing that might seem strange given the focus we have here on outshooting your opponents is that some of the greatest teams from 20 or 30 years ago were outshot. For example, the Edmonton Oilers were significantly in the red between 1983-84 and 1987-88 despite dominating the league:

GP SF SA SF/G SA/G %S
Sample 195 6084 6246 31.2 32.0 49.3
Total 400 12542 12769 31.4 31.9 49.6

I went back through boxscores for those seasons, and was able to find 195 games, the results of which are listed as "Sample." I'm not sure why only half of the game summaries are in the newspaper archives, but it looks like the results are roughly the same.

One assertion we've long made is that the Oilers were such a good team, so often holding a big lead, that score effects swamped their dominance on the shot boards. Well, score effects played a huge role, but it's hard to claim that Edmonton dominated shot totals. Here are their ratios by period:

1st 2nd 3rd
SF/60 31.9 31.8 29.2
SA/60 31.0 32.2 32.1
%S 50.7 49.6 47.7

There are still some score effects in the first period - Edmonton frequently took an early lead - but it would be hard to argue that the Oilers bear any resemblance to the dominant teams of the post-lockout era, who control 54% of the shot totals or more. The Oilers outshot their opponents by a small margin, but they were also one of the most-dominant teams in NHL history, and they played in an era of talent dilution and massive differences in team ability. Those Oilers teams had great special teams talent along with shooting and chance creation skills.

I don't think we can get too many lessons from the mid-1980s NHL - almost all of the analysis you'll find here applies to the league post-lockout, and drawing conclusions from a league with less parity, almost all Canadian players and much less intensity is a risky business.