Analytics are used by NHL teams to help assess players, plot tactics and prepare for opponents. With these advanced statistics becoming more mainstream among fans and media, The Canadian Press takes a look at some of the more common terms in today’s hockey world.
First developed by former Buffalo Sabres goalie coach Jim Corsi, this advanced statistic includes not only shots on goal, but also ones that were blocked by a defender or missed the net with teams playing 5-on-5. The statistic — officially termed “even-strength shot differential” by the NHL — has become a barometer for how much a team has the puck. If a player has a lower shot differential, in theory his team is more likely to be in the defensive zone when he’s on the ice.
There is also tracking for even-strength shot differential when a team is trailing, tied, ahead or in a close game. A team that’s winning might sit back more often, while one tied or ahead is more likely to press offensively. Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano had an overall 57.63 shot differential percentage at even strength to lead the league last season, while the Carolina Hurricanes topped the NHL in even-strength shot differential at 54.45 per cent.
Dubbed “unblocked shot attempts” by the NHL, this statistic is similar to Corsi except that, as the name suggests, it only includes shots that make it through to a goalie and miss the net — not the ones that hit a player in front. Like Corsi, there are variable categories for when a team is tied, trailing, ahead or involved in a close game. The Boston Bruins led this category last season at 53.80 per cent, slightly edging out the Flames (53.32) and Hurricanes (53.17).
This statistic adds together a team’s shooting and save percentages at 5-on-5. The NHL terms this stat “shooting plus save percentage.” The shooting percentage represents the frequency a team scores on one of its shots, while the save percentage is the frequency of saves made by its goalies.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a 5-on-5 shooting percentage of 9.4 last season and a save percentage of 92.9. Those numbers added up equal 102.3. The stat is then multiplied by ten, giving the Lightning the highest PDO at 1023. The Toronto Maple Leafs were second at 1019, while the Nashville Predators were third at 1018.
Because the combined shot and save percentages of the league’s 31 teams will always equal 100 per cent — a shot on goal either goes in or it doesn’t — a club above that number can usually expect a regression over a large enough sample size, while one below can expect the opposite.
The stat is also applied to players, with Toronto’s Auston Matthews leading the way last season at 1070 followed by linemate William Nylander at 1058.
GOALS/ASSISTS/POINTS PER 60 MINUTES
These stats track the number of goals, assists or points a player records for every 60 minutes of ice time. A player with a high rate, but lower ice time might be in line for an increased number of shifts. Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin led the league with 3.97 points per 60 minutes last season.
This stat shows how often a player starts a shift in the offensive zone after a whistle. A player with a higher percentage of offensive zone starts should in theory have more chances to score, while one with more defensive zone starts has further to go to get into scoring position. Vancouver Canucks centre Henrik Sedin led the NHL in offensive zone starts last season at 72.88 per cent, while defensive-minded teammate Brandon Sutter came in at just 22.65 per cent. This stat does not include neutral zone draws.