How many times have you witnessed this scenario play out? The Blues steal the puck in the defensive zone, the puck goes D to D and then out to a streaking forward plowing through the neutral zone like a locomotive from hell. He enters the offensive zone only to get pushed into the corner. Eventually the puck gets kicked back out to the point where a waiting D-man sits with his weapon cocked and ready to unload on a scrambling goaltender. The puck and stick meet at exactly the right time and send the frozen chunk of rubber hurdling through space. Seconds later the entire crowd lets out one big groan as the puck misses its intended target by a little over a mile and bangs off the glass. The person sitting behind you screams in absolute exhaustion, “The Blues couldn’t hit water if the fell out of a boat”.
It seems like it happens more often than not. Wide open D-men can’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn, Forwards missing from point blank, Paul Stastny unable to pass the puck into the net, it is definitely frustrating to watch.
And it got me thinking, just how do the Blues stack up to the rest of the NHL in terms of accuracy?
To find out we first have to understand what statistics we need to create our formula.
The first part of the equation is easy. Shots on Goal. This is the number of Blues shots that hit their intended target.
Ok, so we know how many times they hit the net but how do we know how many attempts the have taken?
We could use Corsi, which is the measurement of all shots taken by the Blues, but that would mean we would be including blocked shots in our little experiment. And this raises an important question, should blocked shots count as inaccurate shots?
Depends on who you ask. By definition an accurate shot is one that hits it’s intended target, which is something a blocked shot doesn’t do. However, we have no way of knowing if the shot is actually blocked by an opponent or a teammate and we don’t know if the block is accidental or intentional. To me a shot that bounces off of a player standing directly in front of the goal with their back to the shooter is just as accurate as one that bounces off of a goaltender.
Ok, so Corsi isn’t going to work because it raises more questions than it answers. However, there is this stat called Fenwick, which measures the amount of shots that either end up on goal or go wide, it does not include blocked shots.
Bingo, that's our stat.
What I ended up doing was dividing Shots For by Fenwick For and using that number to rank each team. I also used the totals of every team at their ten game mark.
All stats are 5 on 5 and are provided by the great people at NaturalStatTrick.com. Here is what we found out.
As you can see the NHL average is 72.2% and the Blues come in at a respectable 73.5%. Ok, maybe that isn’t the greatest but at least it is comforting to know that the Blues hit the net more than 16 other teams.
“But wait” you say, “a lot of the teams that are at the top of the list are in the Eastern Conference and everybody knows that the Eastern Conference doesn’t count” (your words not mine). Let’s see how the Blues stack up against the best in the west.
Once again the Blues are slightly better than average. Not bad but not necessarily good either. But the truth is the Blues are more accurate than either you or I give them credit for.
Our plan is to take another look at the league when they have passed the 20 game mark and determine if anything has changed.
Until then keep yelling for the Blues to shoot, after all there is a 73.5% chance it will wind up on goal.