Tracking the Pacific Division – As of December 31, 2018

Oilers-Sharks-2

It’s been a disastrous stretch to close the year. Six straight losses now, one win in their last eight. After 39 games, the Oilers have collected 39 points, going 18-18-3. They had nine wins in their first 20 games under McLellan. They currently have nine wins in their 19 games under Hitchcock.

Meanwhile, the Flames have now scored the third most goals in the league and moved to the top of the Pacific division. San Jose, Vegas and Vancouver have six wins in their last ten. Anaheim has slowly come back down to earth, something that was expected considering their poor shot-share numbers, with their results being propped up by above-average goaltending.

Here’s how the Pacific division teams have done as of December 31, 2018. An explanation of each metric can be found in the glossary at the end of the article.

Pacific Division - 20181231

Couple notes:

  • It was a matter of time before Calgary, San Jose and Vegas took over the top three spots in the division. At the end of November, these three teams were posting good shot-share numbers with Vegas behind Anaheim in terms of actual results. Vegas’ problem at the time was their goaltending, which has gradually improved.
  • San Jose appears to still be struggling with their goaltending, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they made a move to address it in the new year.
  • A big reason why San Jose is winning is their special teams. They rank 7th in the league with 8.63 goals per hour on the powerplay (5v4) and generate the third highest rate of unblocked shot attempts. Their penalty kill (4v5) ranks fifth in the league, allowing 5.29 goals against per hour, and are in the top ten league wide when it comes to limiting unblocked shot attempts.
  • The rest of the Pacific division teams (excluding Vegas) can’t seem to generate a whole lot of offence on their powerplays – they’re all in the bottom third in the league when it comes to unblocked shot attempts. Want to find an edge in this division? Fix your damn powerplay.
  • Arizona had a good start to the season at even-strength, posting a +5 goal differential and a 54% Corsi For percentage. Since then, they’ve plummeted to the bottom of the league (-23 goal differential at even-strength), with their shot-share metrics below 50% now.
  • Vancouver and especially Anaheim should be a lot lower in the standings, but they’re relying on individual talent to stay afloat. Anaheim’s relying on goaltending, while Vancouver is getting some outstanding production from Elias Pettersson. It’ll be interesting to see if they buy into their results and make some long-term decisions based on goal-metrics. But that just might be an Edmonton thing.
  • Los Angeles has gradually been improving getting some good goaltending and winning five of their last ten, but it’s probably too late. They put themselves into a deep hole early in the season and should probably start making some moves for next season. I’d expect an overhaul with their special teams  – both their powerplay and penalty kill is currently bottom five in the league. And they’re bottom five in the league when it comes to generating shots on the powerplay and limiting shots on the penalty kill.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

Glossary:

  • Points percentage (PTS%) – The total points accumulated divided by the points that were available, including extra time.
  • Goals-for and Goals-against (GF/GA) – The number of goals scored and the number goals allowed at even-strength.
  • Goal Differential (Goal +/-) – The difference between the goals scored and the number of goals allowed (i.e., goals-for minus goals-against)
  • Corsi For percentage (CF%) – The proportion of all the shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Corsi For/(Corsi For + Corsi Against). This is used as a proxy for possession and can predict a team’s future share of goals (GF%).
  • Fenwick For percentage (FF%) – The proportion of all the unblocked shot attempts the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Fenwick For/(Fenwick For + Fenwick Against). This is used as a proxy for shot quality and considers shot blocking a repeatable skill. It can also predict a team’s future share of goals, slightlty better than Corsi.
  • Shots For percentage (SF%) – The proportion of all the shots on goal that the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Shots For/(Shots For + Shots Against).
  • Scoring Chances For percentage (SCF%) – The proportion of all the scoring chances that the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Scoring Chances For/(Scoring Chances For + Scoring Chances Against).
  • High Danger Corsi For percentage (HDCF%) – The proportion of all the high danger shot attempts that the team generated and allowed that the team generated (i.e., High Danger Shot Attempts For/(High Danger Shot Attempts For + High Danger Shot Attempts Against).
  • Goals For percentage (GF%) – The proportion of all the goals that the team scored and allowed that the team generated (i.e., Goals For/(Goals For + Goals Against).
  • Shooting percentage (SH%) – The percentage of the team’s shots on goal that became goals (i.e., total goals divided by the total shots on goal).
  • Save percentage (SV%) – The percentage of the team’s shots on goal against that were saved (i.e., 1-(totals goals allowed divided by the total shots on goal against))
  • PDO – The sum of a team’s shooting percentage (SH%) and its save percentage (SV%). It’s based on the theory that most teams will ultimately regress toward a sum of 100, and is often viewed as a proxy for how lucky a team is. (Source)
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