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Leaguewide Defense: Scoring Chances

A look at how many scoring chances each team has given up over the last five years.

Jamie Sabau

Recently, I've been evaluating the Penguins' defensive competency using shot location data. I've done this along two fronts: looking at scoring chances, and looking at shot distances from different ranges. Today, I'm going to conclude my work with location data (for now) by looking at scoring chance numbers for the entire league over the last five years. The idea is to get a good approximation of how well the Penguins played defense under Bylsma compared to the rest of the NHL.

The data is pulled from super shot search. I added up the total number of even strength scoring chances against for each team over the last five years during regulation time. The chart below is sorted from lowest to highest.

Raw Scoring Chances Against 2009-2014
LAK 3428
NJD 3549
MIN 3686
SJS 3795
PHI 3831
DET 3837
PIT 3859
STL 3869
NSH 3899
CBJ 3903
CGY 3928
OTT 3955
BOS 3965
CHI 3975
MTL 4019
DAL 4025
TBL 4158
TOR 4177
ARZ 4197
WSH 4216
COL 4233
VAN 4249
BUF 4274
ANA 4279
NYR 4399
WPG/ATL 4421
FLA 4427
CAR 4465
NYI 4585
EDM 4650

That's good stuff--the Penguins rank 7th in terms of giving up even strength scoring chances. Some people liked to complain that while the Penguins limited the overall number of shots on goal against (they gave up the fifth fewest during this time), too many of those shots were quality chances. This data should put an end to those complaints. During Bylsma's tenure, the Penguins played solid defense and were very good at limiting scoring chances against compared to other teams.

This data also has implications for Marc-Andre Fleury. Like I've found before, the team in front of Fleury was not as leaky as some supposed, so the mediocrity of Fleury's save percentage over the last five years rests on his shoulders, not the players in front. This is yet another slice of evidence that should temper any drive by the Penguins to extend Fleury this season or give him a substantial raise.

With this data in hand, I also wanted to see how well total scoring chances against correlated with even strength shots against over the same time.

That's a strong correlation for dealing with hockey data that isn't perfect. Despite the consistency issues with shot location numbers, you can see that teams which tend to give up a lot of shots against also overwhelmingly tend to give up lots of scoring chances against. Consequently, teams that give up lots of shots but that purportedly limit quality chances against are few and far between, assuming they even exist. This is something to keep in mind as some teams begin to ride the percentages this year despite mediocre to poor possession numbers.