The Oilers rank among the bottom five in the league in penalty kill at 76%, ahead of only Minnesota, Boston, Anaheim and Chicago.
Last season, special teams was a strength of the team where they were ranked ninth in the NHL at killing penalties at an 83.4% clip. New systems and personnel injuries could factor into the slow start for the Oilers.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins says he is still trying to tweak his PK unit, finding the best possible combination of players. While there will be more tweaking to come, the one thing that will hold strong is the aggressiveness of the system.
"The penalty kill… it's all new," said Eakins. The one thing we've changed as we've gone along is, we've changed our up-ice on a nightly basis, which isn't a big deal. That's not a big deal in the league. It's all, if Ovechkin and Backstrom are swinging to this side, it'd probably be pretty smart to take those guys away. In-game stuff.
"But the aggressiveness of it is something that is different for these guys and we're not going to change that. We're going to stay with it. I know it doesn't come naturally to some of our guys. I've had trouble getting a really good feel for the guys I want to kill penalties up front and it's kind of back and forth on performance. I feel over the last couple of games, we've got into the mix that we want to use and I think we've done a little bit better job at it."
Eakins also says the team's power play, which scored at a top ten NHL rate of 20.1%, has suffered do to personnel being in and out of the lineup due to injuries. This season, the team has a power play conversion rate of just 13%.