Silver Nuggets: A look at some scoring chance numbers

Scoring chance numbers are the most commonly cited "analytic" that the public sphere hears from executives from NHL teams. Although a metric like Corsi correlates very highly with scoring chance differential over time and is easily accessible to everyone rather than tracking scoring chances individually for each team, running into subjective definitions, it's still useful to look at scoring chance numbers to see if we can put ourselves into the shoes of those making important player evaluation decisions.

One of the many great hockey analytics sites out there right now is War On Ice, created by Andrew Thomas and Sam Ventura, and recently, they announced an update to their site that defined a scoring chance as follows:

  • In the low danger zone, unblocked rebounds and rush shots only.
  • In the medium danger zone, all unblocked shots.
  • In the high danger zone, all shot attempts (since blocked shots taken here may be more representative of more "wide-open nets", though we don’t know this for sure.)
  • They also have numbers for each player and team for you to check out, and obviously that's what I've been doing all morning. As always, we have to be wary from concluding anything from the NHL's wonky shot location data, but it's still pretty interesting to look at. Here are their scoring chance numbers for the Senators, relative to the team. Here, a high number is good as that means player X's scoring chance differential (for - against) was better than their teammates when they were on the ice.

    Again, we see another piece of evidence that puzzles us as to why Patrick Wiercioch isn't a regular defenseman on this team. Not only his Wiercioch easily the best defenseman on the team by this metric, but also the best player overall. We also see some evidence that despite Greening's solid possession numbers in a small sample this season, he's still struggling in the scoring chances department. On the other hand, veterans Phillips and Legwand - who have both had their minutes cut dramatically since Dave Cameron's taken over - are the worst active players on the team. It surely seems that the team got a bit lucky with Neil being injured as well, and they have been playing better of late while rolling four lines - something they can't do with a possession anchor like #25. It'll be interesting to see how he's used when he returns from his knee injury as all of the numbers available do not favour him and the team appears to be fine on the character/toughness/leadership scale, even with his absence.

    Let's break these numbers down a little further. Below, the blue bars represent scoring chances for/60, a good glimpse of the team's ability to create offense when player X is on the ice where high numbers are good and low numbers are bad. The red bars represent scoring chances against/60, which lets us know how the team is doing at preventing scoring chances when player X is on the ice. Here, a low number is better because it means that the team isn't giving up many scoring chances when the player is on the ice.

    Here we see Hoffman and Wiercioch shine. I initially thought that Wiercioch may just be generating a lot of scoring chances to make up for the ones the team allows when he's on the ice but the numbers say that he's been the best on the team at preventing scoring chances as well. Obviously usage plays into effect here with both players, but it still provides evidence that both should be getting more ice time. Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris generate a lot of scoring chances for, so that's why their number in the first graph (relative to the team) isn't bad, but it's clear that they may be struggling a bit defensively with some of the highest scoring chance against/60 numbers on the team. Neil, Legwand, and Chiasson don't have the ability to create offense as Ryan and Turris, so their numbers suffer and their porous defense stands out a bit more. Interestingly, the team has been using Chiasson on the PK more, perhaps trying to mold him into that role, and it'll be interesting to see how he performs at the end of the year given that all indications are that he's a below-average player in the defensive zone.

    Anyways, these were fun to look over and I highly encourage all of you to do the same and make your own observations - comment below if you notice anything interesting! To find these, go to War On Ice's player statistics page and hit "scoring chances" in the drop down menu titled "columns to display", then hit "tabular view" to view these numbers in a table form!


    Sens Links

    • No Sens games this week, but Silver Seven helped bring in the new year with a couple of posts. First, a roll call post + community standards refresher in case you wanted to know more about the staff and the Silver Seven community. [Silver Seven]
    • Next, Amelia showcases the best of Silver Seven in 2014 [I], and Sheer Craziness talks about his New Year Resolutions for the hockey community. [Silver Seven I, Silver Seven II]
    • Some more Sens New Years resolutions, this time, from a SensChirp community member. Always interesting to get multiple perspectives on things! [SensChirp]
    • The folks over at SenShot have two nice final pieces for 2014. First, Jack shares his thoughts on the final month of the year [I], and Zachary highlights some important year-end numbers. [SenShot I, SenShot II]
    • I'm feeling hopeful for the New Year after a tumultuous one on and off the ice for the Senators. The odds don't favour them when it comes to making the playoffs though - Nichols has more. [6th Sens]
    • Speaking of off-ice stuff, Chet Sellers brings back his famous power rankings! Here's his hilarious January edition on WTYKY. [WTYKY]
    • A great recap from what sounds like a really fun Sens Skills event. Jared Cowen and Mike Hoffman were the stars as Team Phillips edged out the victory over Team Karlsson. Somewhere, Phillips is mumbling "I told you so" to the hockey operations group. [Ottawa Citizen]
    • News surfaced today that Marc Methot was skating at Senators practice. There were reports earlier that he may be going to Binghamton on a rehabilitation stint, so we'll have to wait for the official report from the team. If Methot is sent down, look for the team to call-up either Chris Wideman, Freddie Claesson, or Alex Grant. Who would you rather see? Update: Methot will be going to Binghamton on a conditioning stint and the team WILL recall a D from the BSens after their game tonight. [SensChirp, SenShot, Ottawa Citizen]
    • Pierre Dorion had an interesting interview on New Years Eve that Nichols recapped, touching on topics like the play of world juniors prospects Curtis Lazar and Nick Paul, but also what Mike Hoffman's next contract may look like. [6th Sens]
    • A New Year means five new takes from Ken Warren's column! [Ottawa Citizen]
    • We've also continued to list some of the top plays of 2014. Here's Michaela on one of the most exciting Senators in 2014, Mike Hoffman, Amelia on a player who started the year as Sens captain, Jason Spezza, and Sheer Craziness on a fantastic play from the aforementioned Spezza's linemate with two different teams, Ales Hemsky.
    • Sheer Craziness recapped the exciting Canada - USA World Juniors game for us. [Silver Seven]
    • A nice column on Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who finally got on the scoresheet in a big way against Buffalo (which seems so far away). [Ottawa Citizen]
    • The BSens rang in the New Year with a big win over Lehigh Valley (PHI) [SenShot]
    • Some more news after the pre-game soccer injury to Borowiecki. The Citizen ran a column on the safety of such an aggressive pre-game warmup, whereas Dave Cameron didn't much thought into it stating that it was a fluke that it happened and he won't stop the players from playing. Where do you stand? It's an interesting question to consider, especially financially, with something so preventable. Do you risk hurting player morale though if it's an activity that they enjoy, and how much is that worth? [Ottawa Citizen]

    Sports Links

    • The Penguins have acquired winger David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers for a 1st round pick in 2015.
    • The Detroit Pistons (NBA) have been using analytics a lot in their pro scouting department. Interesting read, especially when considering applications to hockey. [NBA]
    • Yost has some great thoughts on young defensemen, including Cody Ceci. Note: Ceci is one of 11 (!) U21 D in the NHL this season. [TSN]
    • One great sports picture from every day in 2014. [Sports Photos]

    Thanks for reading! It's been a fun first year on Silver Seven and it's been nice compiling these links for all of you on a weekly basis and seeing the discussion that follows. I hope they've been informative! Here's to a great 2015.

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