Saturday, October 24, 2009

Avalanche Chances - Games 1 to 10

For those who are unfamiliar with the scoring chance metric a player is awarded a chance any time someone on the ice has a chance to score. He is awarded with a “chance for” if someone on his team has a chance and awarded with a “chance against” if someone on the opposing team has a chance to score. The results are broken down into three game states, EV (even strength), PP (Power Play) and SH (Short-Handed) and the players are organized according to their jersey numbers. At EV I've also included a scoring chance percentage which is simply the number of chances for divided by the total number of chances for both teams when any individual player is on the ice. I've been keeping track of the chances during Avalanche games this year and what follows are the results from the first ten games.

There are several interesting points here that I haven't picked up on while watching each game individually. The first is that no matter how good John-Michael Liles is on the power play he won't be able to make up that kind of EV scoring chance differential so that his overall contribution is a net positive. Thanks to Gabe Desjardins we can also see that Liles has received some of the softest time possible, both in terms of where he's starting his shifts (the offensive zone) and in terms of quality of competition (lowest on the team). I've remarked several times that his absence may be one of the reasons that the Avalanche power play has cooled off. Unfortunately for Avalanche fans, it may also be one of the reasons the Avalanche have improved at even strength as the season has gone on.

Adam Foote is really struggling. The pairing of Hannan and Quincey have been handling the toughest matchups and in terms of zonestart, Foote is again in the middle of the pack (my thanks again to Gabe for his advanced statistical analysis at Yet his results are downright awful. Of the players that have appeared in all ten games he has the worst scoring chance percentage at even strength. Things don't improve all that much once we look at his play on the penalty kill. Foote and Hannan have played almost the exact same number of minutes short-handed, yet Foote has nearly twice as many chances against. I think he may have lost a step.

Wojtek Wolski is the runaway leader in scoring chance percentage at even strength. I find that particularly interesting because coach Joe Sacco seems to have not been impressed with Wolski so far this year. In addition to benching him for a period and a half, Wolski was also removed from the top line. It will be very interesting to see if Wolski sustains a positive chance differential through the rest of the season. This early on it's easy for statistics to be confused about what's going on.

I mentioned them in my last post but it really is astounding just how well Duchene and O'Reilly have played so far this season. Both are well clear of the team average for scoring chance differential and both have been able to contribute offensively. These are two good players already and there's (obviously) a ton of room for both of them to grow and improve. What an excellent draft that could end up being for the Avalanche.

At this point, all I want to say is hopefully the Avalanche are as fun to watch for the next 72 games as they were for the past ten.


Sunny Mehta said...

cool chart. interesting to see how the SC numbers compare to Corsi. also, both the SC and overall EV shot numbers seem to paint the picture of a mediocre team that's had good results due to high percentages. could be in for some serious regression.

Scott Reynolds said...

In fairness to the Avalanche, it's still early, they played 7 of their first 10 on the road and their last five games were much better at EV than their first five games. It's at least possible that it look them a few games to get settled and that they're now playing a more complete version of their system.