Have These NHL Teams Been Lucky or Good?

By on October 21, 2015

NHL: OCT 14 Coyotes at Ducks

By now, almost every team in the NHL has played around five games, and we’ve seen some incredible things happen. The Arizona Coyotes have come out swinging, taking no prisoners out in the desert. The L.A. Kings can’t seem to buy a win, whereas the Montreal Canadiens look nigh unbeatable.

Of course, any analyst (myself included) will tell you to be cautious of pinning your hopes on small sample sizes, and hockey even provides us with a metric to “temper expectations.” That metric is known as PDO, and it’s basically a measure of “puck luck”. To calculate puck luck, all you do is add your team’s Shooting % to your team’s Save %. That’s it.

Over the course of the season, the NHL average will remain at 100–for every shot that becomes a goal, a shot isn’t saved.

10.15 SCF% v PDO

This chart plots where every team is right now based on their PDO and their respective Scoring Chances For % (SCF%). Scoring Chances are what are considered “more dangerous” shot attempts, and actually are a slightly better predictor of success than Corsi (aka SAT) in the long run.

With just so few samples, the swing from game to game will greatly affect these numbers, but we can still draw some conclusions here.

First: Vancouver, Arizona, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and San Jose are riding really high “lucky” streaks, which are likely unsustainable. But most those are also creating more chances to score, so it’s more likely they’ll stay on the higher end of SCF% even if their goalie has a bad night (which they inevitably will). The odd man out is Vancouver, which means Canucks fans will be in for a rude awaking, and probably soon.

On the other hand, teams like the Kings and the Blue Jackets are clearly suffering from the ill effects of some sort of curse. Because they’re on the right side of the SCF% line, fans can be reasonably sure that they’ll be able to right the ship. The flip side of this are teams like New Jersey, Anaheim and Carolina.

By separating out Shooting % from PDO, we can reasonably figure out what’s going on in some of these extreme cases.

10.15 SCF% v Sh%

The good news is that it seems like New Jersey, Anaheim, and LA are all suffering from just not being able to get the puck in the net. This is a much easier thing to fix than having goaltending issues, as it only takes one game for a scorer to get hot again. Carolina and Columbus, however, are below average, but not outside of the “normal” area in Shooting %, which indicates it’s likely more of an issue with goaltending. With Bobrovsky already voicing his own vote of “no confidence” this idea is reinforced.

Still, as we get deeper into the season, the gap between what’s “normal” and what’s not will get much smaller. Right now, there’s about a 5% difference either way between what’s normal and what’s not for both Scoring Chances and PDO. After all 82 games last season, the standard deviation in SCF% was  3.8%, and the deviation in PDO was just 1.09.

And just because graphs are fun – here’s where everyone landed last year.

14-15 NHL SCF% v PDO

With such an active off season, especially with goaltending changing for a lot of teams, we should see some major movement from where teams were last year to where they’ll end this year. Buffalo, in particular, will be an interesting case, as they’ve made the most changes to their system, adding not only new goaltenders, but also beefing up their scoring abilities and hiring a new coach.

I’ll be looking at this every week on twitter, but if we’ve learned one thing through this first week of play, it’s going to be a wild season.

The post Have These NHL Teams Been Lucky or Good? appeared first on Todays SlapShot.

This article, Have These NHL Teams Been Lucky or Good?, first appeared on Todays SlapShot.

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