There is a lot of chatter about Kris Russell and the Defensive acumen that he brings or doesn’t bring. I have been watching the time on ice of the defence with a keen eye. The Defence and winning or losing of the team does not rest on any one player, even McDavid. I believe in putting players in a position to succeed. This is typically easier said than done, mainly due to the fact this requires patience and depth. Another factor is coaching and how the coaches see the strengths and deploys the players every game. I think the defensive group that we are currently seeing on the roster is close to the best group that we have seen play for the Oilers in nearly a decade. Which is very sad for many Oilers fans like me.
Lets take a look at how they have been deployed through 25 games.
|Time On Ice||Average||Wins||Losses|
The Wins and Losses columns above don’t include the 2 overtime Losses games, which helps mainly Klefboms icetime.
Those are the seven main defencemen. I sorted them into the average ice time on in Wins and Loses as well total average ice time.
What Does this tell us?
First thing I noticed was the Oilers clearly have a top 4 in terms of Time on ice when Russell is in the Lineup. Now this ice time includes Powerplay and Shorthanded time, and even strength ice time. Klefbom is the clear leader for PP Ice time, while Russell actually leads in Average time on ice for the penalty kill.
The next thing I noticed was who played more in Losses than they do in wins. Russell, Nurse and Benning all played more than than their averages in Losses. Klefbom, Sekera and Larsson all play less than their average ice time’s in a loss.
Does this mean they lose more when they play Russell, Nurse and Benning more than they should? Maybe it does maybe it doesn’t. What I would be more confident in is the team plays better when they give more ice Time to Klefbom, Larsson and Sekera on average.
Don’t Over Play Players that Can’t Handle the Minutes
This isn’t a post about bashing Russell, or Nurse, or Benning. This is about putting everyone in a position where they can best perform, so that the team performs to its best ability. I would prefer it if Benning and Nurse don’t play too much until they gain the experience that pretty much every Defenceman in the league need. I would also prefer it if Russell was a 3rd pairing defender instead of many games playing the most or near the most minutes. Regardless of his fancy stats or his eye tests the simple time on ice numbers tell me that you shouldn’t play him too much if you want to win regularly.