a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Thursday, 7 February 2013

02/05/13 NHL Standings By Shots On Goal

As of this writing the Oilers are sitting in 15th in the NHL's overall standings, but they are 22nd in another important category: Shots On Goal per Game. It's a decent indicator of how things will go in the long term. I'll show you how.

Below is a chart which shows each NHL team's final position in the 2011-12 league standings. The column to the right is ordered by teams that outshot their opposition, in descending order. Next to that is the difference between the final point standings and the shot differential standings. A positive number is given to a team that ranked higher in the point standings than in the outshooting standings.

1 Vancouver Pittsburgh +9
2 New York Rangers Detroit +9
3 St. Louis San Jose +1
4 Pittsburgh St. Louis -3
5 Nashville Philadelphia +21
6 Philadelphia Los Angeles -1
7 Boston Chicago +1
8 Detroit Boston -6
9 New Jersey Colorado+3
10 Chicago Vancouver -3
11 Phoenix New York Rangers +10
12 San Jose New Jersey -9
13Los Angeles Winnipeg -7
14 Florida Ottawa +2
15 Washington New York Islanders +8
16 Ottawa Florida -2
17 Calgary Columbus +10
18 Dallas Anaheim +7
19 Buffalo Montreal +3
20 Colorado Carolina -11
21 Tampa Bay Phoenix +7
22 Winnipeg Buffalo -9
23 Carolina Washington -3
24 Minnesota Toronto +6
25 Anaheim Dallas -7
26 Toronto Nashville -2
27 New York Islanders Calgary -12
28 Montreal Tampa Bay -9
29 Edmonton Edmonton 0
30 Columbus Minnesota -13

The "outshooting standings" column is calculated by subtracting a team's shots against per game from their shots for per game, after which teams are ranked in descending order.

I've highlighted instances where a team finished within +/-5 in both columns. Twelve times a team was within five notches in both columns, both at the top and bottom of the league. Only six times did a team move more than ten spots. In other words, it's difficult to move up the standings if you don't outshoot the opposition.

That may sound like a truism, but it doesn't always seem so simple. You may say that good teams are bound to outshoot bad ones. The Oilers are in 22nd place in shots for, despite all of the talent up front and some good puck movers on the back end in Petry and JSchultz. They are currently suffering from a lack of willingness to shoot the puck, not a lack of ability. In the end, hockey has a lot to do with averages, and the more rubber you put toward the net, the better your odds of success.

The Oilers have been winning on the opposite principle so far, having been outshot in every game but two. That cannot continue if the team expects to go anywhere. They have the tools to do it, now they need to find the way.

1 comment:

  1. I think this stat (outshooting leads to more goals/wins) generally works because players don't really believe it. What I mean is that players don't really think that more shots of any kind will lead to more goals. If they did, they would try many more "low-percentage" shots. And if they didn't care about the quality of their shots, I'm assuming there would be fewer goals scored. But since players (especially the Oilers) generally share the opinion that the quality of shots is more important than the quantity of shots, there is a fairly even correlation throughout the league between quantity of shots and goals. (I know what I mean, but I might not have explained it well.)