I talked a little bit about the Colorado Avalanche the other day; specifically about how their record says one thing but the shot clock says quite another.

Obviously, teams don’t win games by the score on the shot clock, and there are a ton of possible variables in play (goaltending, shot quality, talent level, etc.). Last year, Boston won a lot of games despite generally getting out-shot (-0.5 shots per game) and Toronto lost a lot of games despite out-shooting their opponents (+1.4 shots per game).

That said, shots do – to some degree – show us how teams are faring territorially, and in the majority of cases teams that out-shoot their opponents more often than not are good and teams that get out-shot more often than not are bad. With that in mind, here is shot +/- per game so far this season, split by conference:

Eastern Conference

  1. Buffalo: +16.7
  2. Tampa Bay: +6.8
  3. NY Rangers: +3.4
  4. Philadelphia: +3.2
  5. Pittsburgh: +3.0
  6. Ottawa: +2.6
  7. Boston: +1.4
  8. New Jersey: +1.2
  9. Toronto: +1.0
  10. NY Islanders: -0.5
  11. Washington: -0.9
  12. Carolina: -4.6
  13. Montreal: -5.2
  14. Atlanta: -8.7
  15. Florida: -13.0

Western Conference

  1. Chicago: +15.6
  2. Dallas: +14.3
  3. Vancouver: +8.6
  4. Minnesota: +6.0
  5. Detroit: +3.6
  6. San Jose: +2.8
  7. Phoenix: +0.8
  8. Nashville: +0.7
  9. St. Louis: +0.2
  10. Los Angeles: -2.6
  11. Edmonton: -6.8
  12. Columbus: -7.8
  13. Calgary: -10.0
  14. Anaheim: -10.2
  15. Colorado: -11.6

What I See

There’s been a lot of talk about Detroit’s slow start, and indeed they are off of last season’s shot pace (+8.5 shots per game) but they still are moving the puck in the right direction more often than not. Similar comments have been made about Vancouver, but Luongo couldn’t stay cold forever and the Canucks were moving the puck in the right direction.

I find it interesting that four of the bottom eight teams by this count have new coaches – could it be that the team hasn’t adjusted to the new system yet? Based on Pat Quinn’s comments that certainly seems to be the case in Edmonton, and I strongly suspect that’s also the case in Calgary.

In the East, the Cory Clouston Senators are surprisingly good, as are the Maple Leafs, who have yet to win a game. Montreal on the other hand has struggled.

Tampa Bay has to be the most shocking team on here; if this keeps up they’re bound to improve upon their record (2-1-2) and I wonder if they could be a playoff team. The off-season additions they made (particularly Tanguay) should help but if Rick Tocchet and his staff can somehow get them close to a playoff berth they deserve a ton of credit.

With a half-dozen exceptions, I don’t think these would be terribly surprising conference standings at the end of the year.

Comments (3)

  1. Try convincing Edmonton fans of that…

  2. Hey Jonathan, interesting thoughts on the shot +/- per game thus far in the NHL…

    Looking back at the recent Oilers game vs the Predators, the Oilers were out shot 41-20 despite have more scoring chances (9-4 by David Staples count-recent journal article). To me, it looked like Nashville took a high number of shots from low percentage locations. Looking at the CBS NHL Game Tracker, it seems to confirm that this is, in fact, the case.

    From what I’ve read, most shots are likely to go in from in between the faceoff dots above the faceoff circles. By this measure, nearly 3/4 of the Predators’ shots were from low percentage locations while close to 3/4 of Edmonton’s shots were from high percentage scoring locations.

    As for coaching philosophy having an impact, it’s possible that Quinn’s having the Oilers maintain tighter zone coverage to give up more shots from lower percentage locations. I certainly hope that this is the case–perhaps Jacques Lemaire’s wisdom is catching on. (Granted, it’s only one game..)

    cheers,

    Greg

  3. Greg:

    Thanks for the comment; it’s nice to see well-reasoned stuff like that on here. Dennis King tracks scoring chances for every game, and I think we’ll have a pretty good idea of how close to reality the shot clock is after a few more games.

    Historically, though, the two have been linked rather closely; at least last season.

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