Hi everyone! Well, I had such a positive response from my first Club Scarlet post "Breaking Down the NHL Scoring Sheets – The Event Summary", that I thought I would go ahead and do Part II, the Game Summary. The Event Summary and the Game Summary work together to create a record of the game on paper, and while much of the information in the Game Summary is self-explanatory, there are still a lot of numbers that are in need of a context. So let’s use the Capitals’ March 24th overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins as our guide. If you remember, this Wednesday night tilt required more than an overtime session to settle, and it was the unlikeliest of shooters – Mike Knuble – who would beat Pittsburgh netminder Marc-André Fleury with a high flying slapper in the shoot-out. I picked this game because it has a little bit of everything – 60 minutes of regulation, plus a 5 minute overtime period, plus a shootout, as well as a fair number of penalties and goals. You can find the online version of the Game Summary here: http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20092010/GS021091.HTM.
Keep in mind too that the Game Summary, which I’m sure you can see just by looking at it, is much less numbers intensive than the Event Summary. You can see that events within the game are often spelled out for you. For example, penalties are noted in English rather than simply by a number. So you’ll see "1 1 2:19 3 T. Poti 2 Delaying Game – Puck over glass". All the information is right there – the order of the game’s penalties (1, the first one of the game); the period in which in the penalty occurred (1, the first period); the time at which the penalty was called (2:19 into in the first period); the guilty player’s number and name (#3, Tom Poti); the number of minutes that the penalty is worth (2); and finally the penalty itself, in plain English (Delaying Game – Puck over glass). Common sense, right? Goals and assists are also straight forward. However, there are still figures to explain here, so let’s get started…
Number 1: By Period, Shots
– This is always the first piece of information I look for. The final Event Summary tells us how many shots were taken as well, but the Game Summary breaks the shots down by period, which can be very helpful when looking for surges or dips in energy. First, however, we have to understand what counts as a ‘shot on goal’. And, I’m betting that the shots on goal stat at the end of each game sounds surprising low considering the amount of rubber flung at the net during the course of your average game. Officially, a shot on goal is any shot that would have gone into the net if it were not for the goalie. Shots off the crossbar, or shots or passes that dribble, bounce, or somehow eek their way to the net don’t count. Usually, there has to be intent to score, and therefore shots on goal result in either saves or goals. Shots on goal for the team, much as we discussed with shots on goal for any given player, represent the effort and ability to create scoring chances. And keep in mind too that the number of shots on goal can be determined as much as by the skill set of a high powered offensive team such as the Caps or by the problems facing an offensively challenged team as it can be by the ability or inability of a team’s defensive corps to prevent scoring chances.
There isn’t so much a magic number for shots on goal for (i.e. for the Capitals) per period, but there are ranges and trends that you want to look for. Washington, for instance, throws an average of 33.4 shots on goal per game, which means they average 11.13 shots per period. The League average for shots on goal throughout the 2009-2010 season is 28.26 shots total, or 9.42 shots per period. Now, for most teams, we should expect to see anywhere from 9 to 12 shots on goal per period, with 12 representing a great effort getting pucks to the net. What you want to see in terms of trends depends on the state of game and the situation of the teams (up by 1, down by 1, ahead by 4, trailing by 4…). And again, this may seem like common sense. If you’re not in the mood for balance, then you’d prefer to see the number of shots rise over the course of 60 minutes rather than drop. Of course, there are some teams that come out ablazin’ in the first, and then let up as the game rolls on, and Caps fans, we all know that this is precisely what makes you cringe, right? Again, because shots are emblematic of the ability to create scoring chances, the number of scoring chances is in turn emblematic of the swings in energy and pace during the course of the game, as well as the match-up itself (evenly-matched teams? one-sided match-up?).
Just as important as the shots for is the shots against (i.e. against the Capitals, and for the Penguins). On average, NHL teams allow 31.2 shots against during the course of a 60 minute regular season game, which means teams give up roughly 10.4 shots per period. Florida gives up a League leading 34 shots against, or an average of 11.3 shots per period. The Caps give up an average of 30.8 shots per game or 10.26 shots per period but, Chicago, who leads the League, only gives up 25.1 shots per game, or 8.36 shots per period. Still, the Caps’ numbers put them right about at the League average. Hmm, what’s that? The Caps defense isn’t as bad as everyone says it is? Well, yes and no. You want to see the shots against always be low, with 0 being ideal (i.e. don’t get your hopes up), and somewhere between 5 and 10 being more likely, 5 being fabulous and 10 being, as we just proved, average. And just as you want to see balance or the shots for increase as the game’s minutes tick down, conversely, you want to see the number of shots against drop. Again, common sense.
Alright, now let’s look at the shots on goal by period summary for the Pittsburgh game. In the first period, the Penguins had 17, as in one-seven, shots on goal. That’s way too many, and perhaps not so incidentally, it was also the greatest number of shots that the Capitals had given up during any first period at home during the course of 2009-2010 regular season. Ouch. Now, we could all say that the 17 shots didn’t really mean much when you consider that the score was still tied at 0-0 when the horn sounded at the end of the first, because after all, it’s the score that counts, not the number of shots on goal. However, the Pens’ 17 shots to the Caps’ 9 was a telling sign of the team which had more jump and energy in the game’s opening frame. And, as a side note, it was also told us that Jose Theodore had an amazing first period that kept the Caps in the game. In the second, things begin to even out some – Pittsburgh only fired 9 shots on net to the Caps’ 13. See, we’re going in the right direction here! That’s exactly what you want to see if you’re a Washington fan. In the third, Pittsburgh fired 11 shots on goal in their desperate attempts to tie up the game – which they did, thanks to Jordan Staal – and the Caps, for their part, fired 8 shots on Marc-André Fleury. Fewer than in the second? Yes. But when you consider that they scored 2 goals, who’s complaining? That’s the thing about shots – you could argue that they don’t mean much if they don’t really have a direct relation to the score, and there’s no way to rate the quality of the shots on paper. But I find that tracking the shots per period is a good indicator of the flow and energy within a given period.
Number 2: Power Plays (Goals-Opp./Power Play Time)
– Here’s where you go to get most of your power play information. The only thing missing is the number shots taken during the power play as well as a breakdown of which players had power play time and who did not. But we’ve already covered that so, let’s move on. What we’re looking for in the Game Summary is the number of power play chances total, and the number of times the power play (for either team) converted. Let’s look at the stats. On March 24th, the Penguins had 5 different power play opportunities and they scored on one of them, as evidenced by the 1-5 entry. The first number is always the number of power plays that are successful, and the second number is always the number of power play opportunities total. Power plays can be listed under 5v4, 5v3 or 4v3, depending on the number of men on ice. Conversely, this also tells us about the Caps’ penalty kill on the evening. If the Pens’ PP went 1-5, then the Caps PK went 4-5, which is great. Now if only we could get those Road Penalty Kill numbers up…
How many penalties is too many penalties? Well, 5 that’s for sure. Luckily for the Caps, the Penguins power play has struggled all year and managed to convert only once. This season Philly leads the League with an average of 16.7 penalty minutes per game, or about 6 penalties. And the winners of our best behaved award for the 2009-2010 season are the boys from Nashville who average only 8.7 penalty minutes per game or roughly 3 or 4 penalties. The Caps take 4 or 5 penalties per game, although their average of a ninth place 11.5 penalty minutes per game has probably been unfairly ballooned by the number of game misconducts and majors that Alex Ovechkin has taken this season. Just like I noted in the Event Summary, although you never want to see the same player take more than one penalty in the same game, there can be good penalties, such as penalties called as a result of breaking up a scoring chance or sticking up for a teammate. Ideally, you’d like to see 0 penalties for and have something like a gazillion power play opportunities (especially if you’re the Caps). Ideally…come on. But if you’re going to take penalties, which teams do, keep the numbers low; about 3 or 4. Just think about it – the more time you spend killing penalties, the less time you have to score. And, if you’re a team like the Washington Capitals and you rely on a penalty killer like Mike Green to score goals on the power play too, there’s a high probability that he’ll be carrying too many minutes at the end of each game if he plays on too many PK’s.
Number 3: Scoring Summary, Str.
– In addition to noting the scorer, those who assisted on the goal and the time that any given goal is scored, the officials must also keep track of ‘Str’ or Strength, which refers to whether a goal was scored at even strength (5 on 5 or 4 on 4) on the power play, short-handed, or in the shoot-out. Or perhaps a penalty shot but strangely we see fewer and fewer of those. EV stands for even strength, meaning both teams have 5 or 4 skaters. PP, then, obviously stands for a goal scored while on the power play. SH, such as we see in the scoring summary for our game, stands for short-handed, meaning that the team that scores the goal, scored while down a man, i.e. on the penalty kill. SO, stands for a shoot-out tally. You could also see EN for an empty-netter, or PS for a penalty shot that was successful. If you don’t convert on a penalty shot, the score-keepers write this awful ‘FAILED’ by your name…it’s so, well, definitive, and almost mean. So, looking over our scoring summary, between the 7 goals scored, we have 4 EV’s, 1 PP, 1 SH (Alex Semin’s awesome short-handed goal that changed the tide of that game), and 1 SO (Mike Knuble’s first ever career shoot-out goal that would be the game winner).
And just for comparison’s sake, as of today, the Caps hold the NHL lead with the most goals scored at even strength with 205 and two regular season games to go. That makes them the only team to score 200+ goals 5 on 5 this season. It also means that they have scored 77 more goals at even strength than the Montreal Canadians who have a League-worst 128 goals 5 on 5. On the power play (5 on 4) the Caps also lead the League with 69 goals (makes sense, they have the league’s best power play), as well as in 5 on 3 situations where the Caps have tallied 8 times, one better than Anaheim, Toronto and Colorado. The Caps have only 4 short-handed goals on the year, 21st in the League, while Chicago leads all teams with an astonishing 13 tallies while down a man. Alex Semin leads the Caps in shorties with 2, and Brooks Laich and Matt Bradley are the only other Capitals to tally in a short-handed situation with 1 apiece. When it comes to shoot-out goals, Washington is right in the middle of the pack, ranking 16th overall, with 5 shoot-out wins (and 5 shoot-out loses).
Number 4: Goaltender Summary
– This is another one of those ‘Captain Obvious’ sections, but it’s really the only place where the goaltenders show up in either summary so I want to draw particular attention to it. You could argue that the goalie is the single most important person in the ice, and yet, they are slighted pretty heavily when it comes to representation in the game stats. The Goals-Shots Against summary corresponds directly to the shots on goal summary and the scoring summary that we see higher up on the sheet. So, for instance, Jose Theodore faced 17 shots in the first period, yet he turned way every single one, so he was 0-17 during the first (i.e. number of goals let in compared the to number of shots faced). In the second, he was 2-9, and in the third, a 1-11. And 2+1 is 3, the number of goals Pittsburgh scored, and 17+9+11 = 37, or the number of shots the Pens took in regulation. Plus, Theo was 0-5 in overtime, finishing the game at 3-42. Brilliant overall game by Theo.
BY Kate Crowder
Thanks everyone and follow me on Twitter @katec0223 or check out my articles at: http://www.dcsportsfan.com/Staff/writers.aspx?aid=117