Blues vs Blackhawks: Converting Possession into Goals

Dilip Vishwanat

Which St. Louis Blues players are converting puck possession into goals and how do the Blues compare against the Blackhawks through the first three games of round one.

SB Nation 2014 NHL Playoff Bracket

This quote really sums up some of my frustrations that I have about the St. Louis Blues and more specifically when Hitchcock talks about how great the team played even though they lost the game.  The Blues are known as a puck possession team and they have lived up to that label through the first three games.  The Blues' Fenwick For % (5v5) is 53% going into tonight's game against the Blackhawks whose FF% is 47%.  Two out of the three games the Blues had over 50% FF% (5v5) and the one game it dropped below 50% was game two when they won in overtime.  And then there was game three where the Blues had a FF% of 56% yet still lost the game by one goal (I am not going to count the empty netter in this analysis).  They dominated possession yet failed to convert that to goals.

So I put together a quick scatterplot comparing players' CF% to their on ice shooting percentage (the shooting percentage for the team when that player is on the ice).

One of the first things I noticed is that the Blues have more players on the higher side of their average than the Blackhawks do.  To me this only reinforces the concept of the Blues "scoring by committee".  But what I also thought was interesting was the matchups between the Blues and Blackhawks for the players who had above team average on ice shooting percentage.  The Blackhawks seem to be scoring against the Blues' toughest players.  Of course this is probably because this measure of Quality of Competition is based on ice time of the opponent. It kind of makes sense that more goals might be scored then against the tougher competition since they are on the ice more often.  However, the Blues have a few players that are scoring when out against weaker Blackhawk players.

Also, you will notice that the Blues' players are grouped a bit tighter around their CF% average than the Blackhawk players are.  The Blackhawks have a greater range of talent than the Blues do.  This is also evident with the on ice shooting percentage as well.

When I look at the two scatterplots side by side, I see a Blackhawks team that isn't as cohesive as the Blues are.  However, they have players that obviously are generating goals when they are on the ice.  And after all, it is goals and not corsi that wins hockey games.

Oh, and yes, this is a three game sample so consider this your obligatory "small sample size" disclaimer.

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