I’ve spent a fair bit of time on this blog talking about shot blocking, and there seems to be a consensus on it for the most part: blocking shots is better than allowing them to go through to the net, but it’s better if the opponent isn’t in your end with the puck to begin with.
Through the first three games of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, the shot clock has painted a picture of two teams spending similar amounts of time in the offensive zone. Tossing missed shots and blocked shots in with shots taken, neither team was able to put much more rubber on the opposition net than the other.
That changed in Game Four, although a cursory look at the shot clock doesn’t show it:
- Shots: Chicago 34 to Philadelphia 30
- Even-strength shots: Chicago 24 to Philadelphia 20
- Even-strength shots + missed shots: Chicago 33 to Philadelphia 26
Despite the closeness of those numbers, when we toss in blocked shots we see that Chicago fired significantly more rubber at Michael Leighton than Philadelphia did at Antti Niemi. At even-strength, the Flyers were forced to block 23 shots. The Blackhawks blocked just six.
Kimmo Timonen led the way for Philly with five blocks. For the Blackhawks, Brent Sopel blocked five shots while the rest of the team combined for six.
Put another way, at even-strength Philadelphia got 81.25% of their shots through, and 62.5% of the shots they fired required a save. Chicago got just 58.9% of their shots through, and only 42.9% of those required a save.
Chicago managed to spend more time in the offensive zone than the Flyers, but shot-blocking made up a good portion of the difference.