Numbers Game: “Shoot the Puck!”

Posted by Adam in Columns,Numbers Game on February 3, 2009 — No Comments

Shoot the puck – One of the oldest adages in the game; coaches preach it, some players follow it (see Alexander Ovechkin, Jeff Carter), while others seem to painfully adverse to it (see Tomas Kaberle).  The 18,000+ “qualified” coaches that attend the NHL games (with obvious notable exceptions in Atlanta, Phoenix, etc.) scream it on every offensive rush.  What do the stats say though?  Do more shots lead to more goals?  It makes sense.  More shots, more rebounds, more offensive pressure, more goals.

The numbers confirm it, to a certain degree (check stats below).  The Wings lead the league in shots/game and with 3.54 goals/game, they lead the league in that category as well.  In fact, there are only 3 teams in the top 10 in goals/game that are not ranked in the top 10 in shots (Bruins, Flyers and Penguins).   The average team ranking in goals/game among the top 10 in shots is 10.1.

However, an interesting trend appears among the teams ranked from 11th -20th in shots and those ranked from 21st -30th.  Out of the teams ranked amongst the lowest in the league in shots, there are only 2 teams that rank among the lowest (21st-30th) in goals/game.  In fact the average goals/game ranking among the teams ranked 21st-30th in shots/game is 15.3 compared to the 20.5 average ranking for teams located in the middle of the pack for shots (11th-20th).

Team Shots/G Shots Rank Goals/G Goals Rank
DET 35.6 1 3.54 1
SJS 34.5 2 3.42 3
WSH 32.4 3 3.22 5
CGY 32.3 4 3.18 6
NYR 32.1 5 2.43 28
CHI 31.9 6 3.31 4
TOR 31.5 7 2.94 10
CAR 31.5 7 2.49 26
NJD 31.1 9 3.06 8
MTL 30.4 10 2.94 10
ANA 30 11 2.81 16
BUF 29.6 12 2.84 14
COL 29.6 12 2.65 21
CBJ 29.5 14 2.66 20
TBL 29.4 15 2.54 24
OTT 29.4 15 2.4 29
BOS 29.3 17 3.43 2
NSH 29.3 17 2.39 30
NYI 29.2 19 2.47 27
LAK 29.1 20 2.56 22
PHI 29 21 3.18 6
DAL 29 21 2.9 12
FLA 28.8 23 2.78 17
VAN 28.1 24 2.84 14
EDM 28.1 24 2.78 17
STL 27.9 26 2.78 17
MIN 27.8 27 2.55 23
ATL 27.7 28 2.86 13
PHX 27.7 28 2.51 25
PIT 27.1 30 3.02 9