We are already through a quarter of the 2015-16 NHL season. While 20 to 25 games is not a large sample I wanted to take a look at how some teams have been doing in terms of generating high-danger chances and scoring chances (see this post at war-on-ice for a quick explanation). What I’m interested in starting to explore here is the idea that it may be more valuable to generate scoring chances, and particularly high-danger chances, than simply generating a greater volume of shot attempts. In other words, my thinking is that good teams will more often than not generate more scoring chances and high-danger chances than their opponents.
Of course winning the scoring chance battle can happen in more than one way. Teams may play a more offensive style that attempts to generate a high volume of scoring chances and high-danger chances, but could leave them susceptible to an opponent generating a good number of scoring chances and high-danger chances too. Teams could also play a more defensive style that focuses on limiting the scoring chances and high-danger chances their opponent generates, but as a result they may not generate a high number of scoring chances and high-danger chances for themselves. I also suspect the best teams are good at simultaneously generating a good number of scoring chances and high-danger chances while limiting opposing teams ability to do the same.
I chose 4 teams that for now will be referred to as Team A, Team B, Team C, and Team D. All 4 of these teams are above NHL .500 and play in the Eastern Conference. All data is 5 on 5 score-adjusted, was taken from war-on-ice, and it includes all games the 4 teams have played this season through November 27, 2015. The charts I’ve created plot both the chances for, represented by a blue line, and the chances against, represented by a red line. This means that if you’re a fan of one of these teams then you want the blue line to be higher than the red line in these charts. Finally, high-danger chances are a subset of scoring chances so I will present them separately. We’ll start with scoring chances for all 4 teams and then get to high-danger chances.
Team A Scoring Chances:
Team A averaged 20.61 scoring chances for (SCF) a game, while conceding an average of 20.23 scoring chances against (SCA). Overall, their SCF% mean was 50.99%. In terms of the chart, it appears that Team A had a handful of rough games but overall is winning the scoring chance battle more often than not.
Team B Scoring Chances:
Team B averaged 16.60 SCF a game, while conceding an average of 15.75 SCA per game. Overall their SCF% mean was 51.34%. They had a rough start to the season but now appear to win the scoring chance battle more often than not.
Team C Scoring Chances:
Team C averaged 17.84 SCF a game and conceded an average of 21.27 SCA per game. Overall their SCF% was 45.70%. The chart indicates their start to the season was fairly solid, but recently they’ve been underwater in the scoring chance battle.
Team D Scoring Chances:
Team D averaged 22.42 SCF a game and conceded an average of 20.55 SCA a game. Their SCF% was 51.59%. They have been pretty dominant most of the season in scoring chances and in terms of winning the scoring chance battle look like the most consistently dominant team of the 4.
Team A High-Danger Chances:
Team A generated an average of 8.23 high-danger scoring chances for a game (HSCF) while conceding an average of 7.84 high-danger scoring chances against a game (HSCA). Their HSCF% was 51.52%. The blue and red lines fluctuate a bit, but it appears like Team A is more often than not generating more high-danger chances than their opponents.
Team B High-Danger Chances:
Team B averaged 6.45 HSCF per game and conceded an average of 6.68 HSCA a game. Their HSCF% was 48.73%. Team B’s high-danger chart is pretty similar to their scoring chance chart. It demonstrates early-season struggles at generating and preventing high-danger chances, but an improvement in this area as the season has progressed.
Team C High-Danger Chances:
Team C averaged 7.53 HSCF a game and conceded an average of 8.63 HSCA a game. Their HSCF% was 46.40%. Just as with their scoring chance chart above, Team C had a decent start to the season but lately have been consistently generating fewer high-danger chances than their opponents.
Team D High-Danger Chances:
Team D averaged 9.10 HSCF a game while conceding an average of 7.61 HSCA a game. Their HSCF% was 53.49%. Team D is very good. Both charts, for scoring chances and high-danger chances, demonstrate they are consistently winning these battles in most of their games, oftentimes by large margins.
Summary Table for All 4 Teams
In Part II, I’ll reveal who the four teams are and delve a bit deeper into what these numbers may mean for each of them. For now, based on the charts and the summary table it appears that:
- Team A and Team D are similar, although Team A have been slightly less effective at generating scoring chances than Team D.
- Team B plays a low-event style compared to the other 3 teams. While games involving Teams A, C, and D typically had around 40 scoring chances and 15 to 20 high-danger chances, games involving Team B had around 31 scoring chances and 12 to 13 high-danger chances.
- Team C has been bleeding high-danger chances against and is often losing the scoring chance battle. If the current pattern continues, this team will need excellent goaltending to have a chance at victory.
- Team D has been very good at generating more scoring chances and high-danger chances than their opponents.