As a capper, I have a standpoint where I believe shots on goal statistic are highly important. However, some might disagree, read on for further discussion.
For those who don’t know I have a radio show every day in Las Vegas from 1-2 PT called ‘Vegas Hockey Hotline’ with my co-host Brian Blessing. The reason I bring this up is because it seems as if we have a daily discussion about the importance of the shots on goal statistic.
From my standpoint it’s a bigger statistic than most give it credit for. From his standpoint it’s meaningless. The answer probably is somewhere in between.
I just feel that the shots on goal number tell not just about how many shots get to opposing goaltenders net but it’s also an indication of whom carries the play. It’s a poor mans’ Corsi number really.
If you look at the top 11 teams in shots on during the regular season, eight of them made the playoffs, led by the Pittsburgh Penguins with 33.5/game. Not surprising, six of the bottom seven in shots per game did not. You can carry this theory into next season’s handicapping when there is a lack of time.
Overall, the teams that finished in the top 10 in the shots on goal category were 147 games over .500. Now, you can’t just blindly bet those teams because they’ll play each other from time to time but it does give an indication of how strong the SOG statistic is.
Let’s break it down further because one might point out that a team who finds themselves on the power play more might rack up more shots, Fair point. We then look at shots per game, when teams are skating five on five, the Pittsburgh Penguins lead the way with 26.34 shots per game followed by the Boston Bruins (25.40). Nine of the top 11 in this category made the playoffs, the bottom five did not. The conclusion is the Pittsburgh Penguins clearly put more pressure on opposing goalies than anyone in the league.
The problem is when we move into the postseason this simplistic way of capping games doesn’t hold true.
In the 2017 playoffs there are five teams that have averaged over 34 shots per game, Montreal, Columbus, Minnesota, Toronto, and Calgary. They all have one thing is common, they all were escorted from the playoffs in round one. Of the four remaining teams, three are in the bottom half in shots, only the Ducks are over 31 shots per game (33.8).
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What changes from the regular season to the postseason?
Teams become more defensive oriented when they grab a lead. The Ottawa Senators have been accused of playing “boring hockey” because of their 1-3-1 trap. You’ll notice that teams ‘pack it in’ tighter around their goaltender with a lead, desperate to protect their advantage. They’re happy allowing teams to shoot from the perimeter, daring pucks to get through their defensive wall. You’ll notice that shots per game goes up but quality scoring chances go way down.
Last season the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup, averaging 33.2 shots per game during the regular season, 34.9 in the postseason. They averaged more pucks to the net than any team who made it past the second round. Interesting, when we apply that same logic to this season, the Anaheim Ducks are tied for first among all teams that made it into the second round (33.8).
I have to stick with the Pittsburgh Penguins to win the Stanley Cup because that was my selection months ago but from a current form standpoint it may be the Ducks winning their second Cup.
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