Given the number-crunching nerdiness of some of our Oilogosphere contemporaries, I almost feel like I have to apologize for saying this, but I've always been a sucker for projected scoring stats. Yeah, I know... as a straight-up extrapolation of a players' current averages that fails to take into account all the little things that make a season interesting — hot and cold streaks, home vs. road performance, linemates, injuries, luck, etc. — stat projections are strictly for entertainment purposes only, but I find they offer some interesting perspective on current player performance nonetheless.
So with the team in the midst of a pretty decent hot streak of late (which has elevated the Oilers' play all the way to "average"!), I figured now would be as good a time as any to see where some cold, unfeeling algorithm thinks our boys will be sitting come season's end in terms of team scoring (all projections from TSN.ca):
A couple things that jump out:
• Just two Oilers are on pace for more than 20 goals (Horcoff, Hemsky), with another scheduled to finish just shy of the mark with 19 (Penner), which is not so good. Team is on pace to finish with 228 goals, or 2.78 goals for per game, a marked improvement over last season's 195 goals (2.34 GF/G) but well shy of 05/06, when the Oil potted 256 (3.12 GF/G). It's worth noting that the Oilers are also on pace to allow 246 goals against this year based on their current 3.00 GA/G, for a goal differential of -18. Again, better than last year (-53) but a long ways from 05/06 (+5). No way the Oilers keep their .500 record if they continue to barf up goals-against like this.
• This just in: Shawn Horcoff has been playing like he's 10 feet tall lately, and the projection reflects that. While a 39-goal finish seems highly unlikely (especially with fewer than 200 shots, or 21.3% shooting accuracy over the season), I could see Scorcoff maintaining his point-per-game clip, even if the rest of the team drives off a cliff between now and April. On pace to surpass his career-high 73 points in 05/06 by nine points and cement his reputation as a true No. 1 centre. Fun fact: Only three players finished last season with a S% over 20: Jordan Staal (29 goals, 131 shots, 22.1%); Jason Spezza (34 goals, 162 shots, 22.0%); and Alex Tanguay (22 goals, 107 shots, 20.6%).
• All you SHOOOOOOOTers out there, pat yourselves on the back for a job well done: Ales Hemsky is on pace for 198 shots, 20 more than his career high in 05/06 and a whopping 76 more than last season. He's also on target to reach the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career.
• If even one of Sam Gagner or Andrew Cogliano finishes with anything close to 39 points, I'll be ecstatic.
I'm out of time for now but might add a few more notes later. Any thoughts from you folks?