On Scoring Chances and other things


So I wanted to try and bridge the many events of the Leafs off-season into a giant post – unfortunately, after I get one of the topics off my chest, I am probably going to wing this (sorry Alec). I haven’t had the time to really break down my own thoughts because my summer has been all about being as lazy as I could possibly be – I’m a little surprised that I haven’t gone a day without taking a shower yet. So I hope everyone is enjoying their summer, getting sun, and trying out new beer.

Scoring Chances, Being a Douchebag, and Circle Jerkin’

At the end of the Leafs season, there were some questions about the path management would take to improve the possession weakness that had plagued the organization all season long. By any metric available to the public, the Leafs were soundly out-shot, out-possessed – this is indisputable by shots taken, shots attempted, and in the recorded cases, puck possession time.

In perhaps one of the greatest hockey interviews ever by our own Alec Brownscombe, Leafs assistant coach Greg Cronin declared that he did not believe that the team was out-possessed at all. Skepticism aside, it did give the fan-base some clue of what the team tracked as far possession was concerned – scoring chances. I took a quick look at Cam Charron’s scoring chance work throughout the season, but couldn’t find anything beyond 36 games. But at the 36 game mark, the Leafs did actually out-chance their opponents 474-469. Edit: I erred on my interpretation of these numbers — the original included special teams. The actual numbers available to us are 392 against and 355 for on even-strength. However, this isn’t the chasm inferred via shots total against. But it does leave me wondering what Cam’s final scoring chance counter was.

The Leafs out-chancing the opposition doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But it does give credence that the coaching staff actually knows what they want out of their line-up, how to get it, and what they are tracking. Oddly enough, the narrative that Carlyle and Co. don’t have a clue what they are doing come from the lowest denominator of an internet arm-chair general manager from that other place. You might get a good look here and wonder why SkinnyPPPhish has difficulties understanding that Ben Scrivens’ save percentage was well below the league average from 10 and 20 feet out while improving as the shots were pushed out. This was repeatedly pointed out, but I guess this is a last resort to draw attention to less circle-jerkin’ in a comment section and more open-mindedness about the devil in the details.

Dur hur.

And by the way, James Reimer was above the league average for save percentage in the 10 and 20 feet distances, which kind of busts the myth the goals given up were a little high. In fact, if you consider the shots given up with Reimer in net in the 10 and 20 feet area of the ice, he was slightly below the league average of roughly 6.974 shots per game – he took 6.94 whereas Scrivens took 5.5 per game and gave up 20 goals. So the evidence clearly points to Scrivens being less than stellar with handling scoring chances while Reimer was significantly above league average.

Now, I wanted to actually find out what exactly the scoring chances were against Reimer and Scrivens. Thanks to Greg Sinclair, I went to check www.somekindofninja.com to check out the scoring chance data we have available. As some of you know, the blogging community has explored the scoring chance data by using a home-plate area of the ice just in front of the net. Sinclair’s site has added the home-plate area search feature to our benefit:

James Reimer: 34 goals, 262 shots: .870%

Ben Scrivens: 25 goals, 128 shots: .805%

At this point, I think we can quickly bust whatever point SkinnyPPPhish was trying to make with his super fancy stats, pie charts and tables, general douchebaggery, and move on with our lives. Scriven’s scoring chance performance at even strength was abysmal – his performance is likely why the Leafs went ahead to acquire Jonathan Bernier (as well as insurance against a Reimer injury). While it’s not entirely fair to throw the Leafs’ short-comings at one player’s feet, Scrivens did have a rough season.

If a skeptic wants my data, I can provide the excel spreadsheet via email – just tweet or DM me on Twitter and I’ll fire off the attachment.

All told, I am going to undertake a project on my own to track scoring chances this coming season. Just for the Leafs and their opponents – I’m going to also try and locate who was on the ice at the time of the scoring chance and see where it takes me. Here’s a great refresher on the definition of a scoring chance.

I will get into more details once I have it mapped out for the season.


The re-signing of Tyler Bozak is extremely questionable to me. On one hand, it is so goddamn tiring to have mediocre centre options on the first line. I want a bona-fide number one centre who can dish the puck, shoot the puck, and make life a living hell for opponents with Kessel and van Reimsdyk flying down the wing playing shotgun. Bozak is nothing close to creative or even a good possession player – but he does defend with good effort and the face-offs do have some value to the line. I do hope that he can continue refining and expanding his game, but he’s going to have to be a little more selfish about shooting when he has the opportunity to.

Bozak’s contract is listed at 5-years / $22,000,000. On the surface, it’s terrible. Long-term, I don’t anticipate an issue. James Mirte did some conservative research on the rising cap. While the numbers are low, it’s entirely possible that within a few years, Bozak’s contract would fall into the middle or lower-tiers of a second line centre – perhaps even a third-liner. Whatever the future may be, I think it’s safe to say that it’s not the horrid contract some have purported it to be.

Conversely, the Clarkson signing is extremely intriguing and very worrying. The Leafs were already dealing with a bevy of talent on the wing, but adding Clarkson to the mix only makes them even more versatile. The Leafs can bring a speed game, a skill game, or a physical game. And it’s nice to have a player who can play hockey and throw down with some fists.

However, 7-years / $36,500,000 for a power-forward who will soon be on the downswing of his production is just too much. There’s some hope that he can sustain some sort of productivity in the later stages of his contract, but it appears to be a three or four year investment. My big hope is that Clarkson brings the possession game that many on social media have demanded – at the very least, the Leafs might not win a game next year, but at least their Corsi and Fenwicks are positive and we can all pat ourselves on each other’s backs and say, “We did It, guys! We have positive Corsi!”

For the record, I am really pleased with Carl Gunnarsson’s re-signing and the contract. A very underrated player and I hope his hip issues are behind him. As for Paul Ranger, whatever personal issues have plagued him in the last four years, I hope he’s ready and committed to helping shore up the team’s defense.

The Leafs have some three remaining RFAs to re-sign. Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson, and Mark Fraser are the three. I’m actually not that concerned about Nonis and Co.’s ability to re-sign all three since I anticipate that J.M. Liles will be traded anyway – but if Franson or Kadri are traded, all bets are off. My guess is that Fraser will be awarded less than 1M, Franson 3.1M, and Kadri 3.5M – all will be given a bridge contract.

I have a lot of faith in Kadri’s abilities and I hope that his ceiling comes sooner rather than later – the team needs his skill on the first line and I hope he’s up to the task.

More stuff coming later – someone will add links to the post. I’m off for a week. I will try and get more content up when I get back. Enjoy your weekend!


Lupul misses the Canadian Men’s Olympic hockey try-out — aims to improve


  1. Good read, mORRgan, thanks. I still don’t understand the folks who mock Cronin’s comments. Obvious to me possession that creates chances is far more valuable than simple possession time.
    Also neat stats on Reimer, and Scrivens.

  2. TheCanucksnaphook Don’t think I’ve complained.  Tried to keep it as simple as possible — not entirely happy with the signings, but I think anyone’s welcome to that kind of opinion.  I believe the main criticism for those complaining is that it is all they do.

  3. TheCanucksnaphook if you have the right mix of players with the right chemistry playing at their peak at the right time, the sky is the limit.   This team is capable of excelling.  Not much more we can ask.  I wish the Leafs could use their financial power to attract this or that superstar, but given the salary cap, what can they do?  Not like the Leafs have traded away a number 1 centre or top tier dman in the last few years.  Mgt. has done what it can – put together a team which is very competitive and, IMHO, exciting to watch.

  4. Nice little piece on Lups. I thought he had a good chance, but probably too mich time missed:

    • WendelGilmour Lupul – Kadri – Clarkson. I’d say he has a good chance to turn some heads this fall leading up to the Olympics . As long as he stays healthy that line could be absolute magic

      • Agreed, Bboy. Our Top 6 could be be deadly. I just hope RC gets a good feel as to which line is clicking each night and plays them accordingly, Burns was awesome at that. If that line is effective as it should be, Lups may get consideration later.

        • WendelGilmour The thing about Carlyle is he’s likely to switch up lines with different personal at any point before or during a game. Look at how he constantly switched around his personnel during the Boston series . Might not be a bad Idea to look at things for the perspective of having a top six that’s interchangeable at any given moment. It sure as hell gave Julian fits during that series

        • For sure, I loved what RC was doing keeping Boston guessing and hope he does this regularly. I agree and I do look at our Top 6 as  interchangeable. Lots of flexibility and firepower.

      • Yeah, very promising. I believe last year was a glimpse of where Naz can get. I’m looking forward to see what he can do playing consistently with better players, against better players. My money says his pts/gm actually improves. I am heartened by the fact many msm are saying he’ll regress, given the same ones thought he wouldn’t make the Leafs last year. Looking at you Mirtle, Brady, Farwell, and Lange.

    • TheCanucksnaphook WendelGilmour This commonly held notion that he is injury prone is a little unfair.  Several years ago he had a serious back injury that has not recurred.  He had a freak blood infection.  His arm was broken by Phaneuf’s slapshot – not sure there are any superhumans in the league that might have shrugged that off.  He has been unlucky, but I fail to see that he is any more likely than any other player to get hurt.

      • MLHS_Luke MaxwellHowe I don’t even know what that means though.  He is unlucky?  Unless he has osteoprosis, I fail to see how he is any more liable to injury than anyone else.  If it is only a historical comment, fine.  But i got hit on the shoulder by bird crap today.  I don’t expect my family and buddies to stand clear from now on because I am bird crapped upon prone.

      • Yaknowwhat MaxwellHowe MLHS_Luke Hmm..gave me something to think about.  That hit that gave him a concussion occured on the half boards while he tried to clear the puck on the backhand.  Maybe playing on the off wing does make him vulnerable to hits.  But still  -the Phaneuf slapshot and blood infection are just bad luck – every forward who gains a position in the NHL is driving for the net when the D tees one up.

  5. It is generational. People think that by being cynical and distrusting they have a more realistic view of the world. And therefore better. It’s bullshit and just serves to prop up their ego. Nobody just sits down and appreciates what they have. It’s always bemoan the things we don’t have. Sad really.

  6. Actually, I loved that “wingin’ it” read, well done. I tend to agree with just about everything you said and, you could ask my wife, that rarely happens!?! 
    We’re better then last year but we’ll have to wait and see by how much. Certainly agree on the Liles movement and see the return being a 2nd or 3rd round pick. In addition and to genuinely shore up defense, I would have hoped for a $2-$2.5M stay at home signing (Hainsey, Murray maybe). I like the Ranger deal and he could be a cheaper solution but, respectfully, there is obvious risk there. With the addition of Bernier, Bolland and Clarkson our team defensive game got better but we appear to be starting with a very similar defensive staff as last year. Frankly, I hope Nonis isn’t done cuz I would have hoped for one more piece in D.

    • MLHS_Luke Heh.  Most are good guys.  Some great writers there.  Just one particular douche canoe.  Nothing personal against any of them though.  By the way, nice to meet you!  I know there were other writers, looks like most are coming for the summer!