An Addendum on Friday Morning’s Scoring Chance Post

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On Friday morning, I took some shots at a particular writer at the PPP community that were misinterpreted. I will be taking the time to make some clarifications here.

The scoring chance tangent of my previous post had everything to do with Greg Cronin’s interview last week with Alec Brownscombe. Cronin explicitly stated that he believed that the Leafs were not out-possessed last season and made a mention that the coaching staff tracked scoring chances. I thought the premise was odd given that scoring chances are generated via shots – more shots, more scoring chances. Unfortunately, we only have one source to track scoring chances. Cam Charron will not be publishing the numbers pulled from last season, so we’re left with using Greg Sinclair’s excellent shot-tracker website.

By the way, apologies to Charron for my persistence about his scoring chance tally. I wasn’t aware he had already posted his reasons for refusing to divulge that information. I was tweeting from my phone and was on my way out the door for the weekend. So confusion aside, I don’t like it, but I understand why he’s refusing to share it. I just wanted to find out what Cronin is talking about.

According to www.somekindofninja.com site the Leafs were out-chanced at even-strength 392 to 355. I had also stated that the discrepancy of the scoring chances were not that significant for this reason from @Taylor_Wright:

That said, I think it’s safe to say that the Leafs were soundly out-possessed at even strength – the shots taken, and not just scoring chances, by their opponents is too significant to ignore. As said before, more shots lead to more chances. However, many members from PPP and MLHS have noted that the Leafs did a fairly good job throughout the season suppressing scoring chances, but the Leafs’ first pass game exacerbated the shots against issue.

SkinnyPPPhish took a look at goals given up at four increments of distance – less than 10 feet, 10 to 20, 20 to 30, and 30+. The chart he provided showed that the Leafs were below the league average in goals given up – e.g., the Leafs were indisputably poor in suppressing scoring chances. Since the cumulative totals suggested that the Leafs were poor defensively, I had this theory that it wasn’t the system, but the goaltender: Ben Scrivens.

A while ago, Anthony Petrielli posited that the system Carlyle had in place was design to not only protect the low defensive comportment of the Leafs defense, but to funnel shots into the goaltender. As we can see, James Reimer played into that theorized system completely:

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

But Ben Scrivens didn’t:

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

I think it is important to highlight that the Leafs were a totally different team with Reimer in net. For whatever reason, Scrivens lacked the ability to stop scoring chances at or above the league average.

Last season, the Leafs gave up an estimated total of 392 scoring chances. Of those chances given up, they gave up 59 goals for a save percentage of .849. I took the liberty of charting the other 29 team’s even strength scoring chances and goals given up.

Scoring Chances

A few notes from the chart above:

a) Edmonton had the league’s best save percentage, but also the worst at suppressing scoring chances;
b) Chicago was surprisingly one of the worst teams in giving up scoring chances, but somehow managed to keep the puck out of the net;
c) New Jersey was the league’s best at suppressing scoring chances (worth noting that Mark Fraser compared the Leafs defensive system to the Devils;

So to summarize the chart, the Leafs were 8th overall in suppressing scoring chances, at league average in both goals against and save percentage. These numbers do NOT line up with SkinnyPPPhish’s conclusions. While total shots against were definitely an issue, scoring chances were not. If the Leafs wanted to suppress scoring chances, they did an excellent job of it last season.

I thought about the numbers in front of me and theorized that many of the teams who managed to suppress scoring chances and / or prevent resulting goals had a very strong defense – Los Angeles, Chicago, etc. Or had incredible goaltending – New York Rangers, Columbus, etc. Or both. For me, the Leafs result goes back to what Petrielli said about the Leafs’ defensive system: the defense was atrocious and the goaltenders needed to play into the shot funneling. While Reimer played his role, Scrivens did not. This might partially explain why the Leafs traded for upside in Jonathan Bernier.

I’m still not convinced that Cronin was giving us the entire story. We know that the Leafs have their own in-house shot trackers – this is indisputable as every team has some arrangement of video and stat tracking. Carlyle has made a few mentions about the shots against being an issue, but if I am remembering correctly, he inferred that the issue had to do with execution – it may also suggest a personnel issue. Unfortunately, thanks to the many topics on this subject, Google turned up too many results. So until someone finds the article, you’ll have to take my word for it.

Some of the issues are as followed:

1) The lack of a consistent breakout game absolutely robbed the Leafs of momentum in many games this season. In some sequences, in particular against Boston during the first round, the Leafs were hemmed in their own end unable to move the puck out of their zone;
2) The rotation of the centre in lieu of a defenseman moving to cover the net did not always result in good board coverage. This might be one of the execution issues that Carlyle referred to;
3) Because the Leafs used a variant of a box plus one system, they were usually down one extra break out option;
4) The wingers often broke out of the zone and ahead of the play to beat the defensemen for a scoring chance.

All these issues compounded the shot suppression problem. My hope is that with a full training camp and a positive outcome with Franson’s contract negotiation, with improvements from the defense with Gardiner taking a full time role in the Leafs top-four, the organization can move forward in suppressing shots, while maintaining their proficiency in eliminating scoring chances against.

I hope my explanation clears up Friday morning’s many questions.

  • MLHS_Luke

    Thanks

  • rustynail

    Thanks for the clarificatiom

  • Cam Charron

    There is still no indication that suppressing scoring chances relative to total shots is a team-level talent. That has yet to be shown.
    Some of your conclusions can be explained by arena bias. Arenas track shot locations different. MSG is notorious for putting shots very close to the net. New Jersey had 218 “scoring chances” on the road and just 165 at home. The Rangers had 211 on the road but an amazing 267 at home.
    There just isn’t the consistency in any way of tracking for us to conclude that ANY of this is at all relevant to the future.

    • MLHS_Luke

      Cam Charron In case no one else says it, props for coming in here and being respectful in your debate.  It’s good to get both sides of an argument, as long as it stays classy.

      • Cam Charron

        MLHS_Luke It’s a situation that’s clearly caused a lot of confusion.
        Generally I use scoring chances because they sync up well with possession statistics. It’s a good way to get people involved in analytics since they see how much the data syncs up. Over 48 games… perhaps it didn’t as well as I’d hoped.

        • MLHS_Luke

          Cam Charron MLHS_Luke It would be a great idea for you to write a tutorial article on how you do it, and then follow it up during the season with a post game stats report.  It might be better received at PPP, but I’d read it.

        • Peggy Lee

          Cam Charron 
          You didn’t like that the data didn’t confirm your “hopes” so you canned it.

    • Anthony Petrielli

      Cam Charron What’s the margin of error for the home/road bias overall throughout the league?

      • Cam Charron

        Anthony Petrielli I’m planning on going through it. Haven’t looked into it much, but those were just two examples I pulled because both sites are notorious for having pretty quirky data.
        If somebody ever points out that Martin Brodeur has a real low career save percentage, just point out that they probably under count shots in New Jersey.

        • Anthony Petrielli

          Cam Charron Anthony Petrielli New York in particular is notorious for “interesting” data so I was just curious if any work has been done on that. Thanks.

    • Peggy Lee

      Cam Charron”There is still no indication that suppressing scoring chances relative
      to total shots is a team-level talent. That has yet to be shown.”
      A more accurate statement is “Armed only with the crude measurements available to me, I am not party to evidence that suppressing scoring chances relative
      to total shots is a team-level talent.”
      In the past two weeks we’ve seen two officials from a NHL team armed with superior data collection and analysis opportunities suggest they have such evidence.

  • Doorman

    5-0 Leafs!!!  That,s the stat I care about!!!  lol

    • Mind Bomb

      Doorman Hahhah D man

    • dlb eh

      Doorman 
      list off the Habs games results if you want

  • hometeem

    thanx for the write up…..again solid stuff

  • wendelsfist

    More proof that matches Cronin’s comment on how the leafs both suppressed quality scoring chances against and amplified quality scoring chances for at the team level.    Great write up here.

    • Cam Charron

      wendelsfist No, that’s not quite it.

  • MaxwellHowe

    MorganReilly, couldn’t agree more with the finalpoints raised.  The achilles heel of the Leafs is the inability to move the puck out of their own end.  Whether this is an issue of personnel (it is, in my opinion) or the system employed by coaches, improving this aspect of the game is key to the Leafs future next season.

    • MLHS_Luke

      MaxwellHowe Yea, and the thought of losing Franson doesn’t make me feel any better about that.  Cam wrote a good article about Franson: http://theleafsnation.com/2013/7/29/ruminating-on-cody-fransons-future?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

      • MaxwellHowe

        MLHS_Luke MaxwellHowe I can’t believe it would happen, but if the Leafs are forced to trade Franson it would be a huge failure on the part of Nonis.

  • Dink

    huh

    • dlb eh

      @Dink 
      seems the site has died.  i can’t post my 12 cents

      • dlb eh

        oh but this worked…wtf

        • dlb eh

          when we’re watching the game (and not talking to other people…really watching the game) we get the feeling like we’re on our heels, or we’re on the attack. we feel it when the guys can’t take a pass, or make one. we feel it when we’re getting physically dominated, or whatever.
          last year, i felt FAR MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, that we were the better team for the better part of most games. there was a lull in there at one point where it felt like we were hanging on, and the goalies played well enough for us to get out of that stretch even steven, or whatever. not a collapse.

        • dlb eh

          so all this shit about us getting out-chanced all year, where is it from? why didn’t the writers here notice that at all? i mean, we were talking about how the Leafs seemed to be a lot tigher defensively than we were used to.
          all the while i was saying how the biggest turnaround to our fortune was a healthy Reimer and his steady play (not spectacular…steady…meaning not a lot of weak ones).

        • dlb eh

          we felt all year that we kept quality chances to a minimum. why are we suddenly using statistics NOW to change the way we felt THEN when we were watching the games with our invested emotions? wouldn’t we be more likely to think the worst back then? WHAT IS GOING ON?

        • dlb eh

          to sum it up.  Cronin said everything in his interview that i thought all year.
          of course there is a lot of room to improve.  but i also remember watching a handful of CHI games as they went undefeated into the 20’s and they were outclassed for 10 minutes a night in almost every game too.
          every team is capable of cranking it up and shitting the bed.
          we’re getting better.  we’re going to crank it up more than shit the bed.  if you want perfect, you aren’t going to get that anywhere, but at least our coaches and our management are thinking like hockey people should.  good enough for me.

  • Optimustic

    I’m not sure about the #s, but there were games that we were out possessed that we didn’t give up a lot of good scoring chances.  There were also some games that we were both out possessed and out chanced. 
      Some games we seemed to be able to keep the shots to the perimeter making easier saves for Reimer and Scrivens, some games we didn’t.  I hope it’s relative to the experience under the new coach and that it’ll get better and more consistent.

    • dlb eh

      Optimustic 
      i agree.  if we were outpossessed too often this place would have lit up.  there was far less negativity here last year than could be explained if there were serious concerns about possession and scoring chances.  things were not bad at all.
      check this stat: of all the members who are always “positive” (appologists?) and all the negative “nancies”, how often did the nancies flood the boards here versus the oblivious happy people?  i mean, after a good night the Simmons weren’t typically here in force.  after the Leafs shit the bed, they were lining up 12 deep to point to all the flaws.
      suck on that stat.

      • Optimustic

        dlb eh Optimustic Sorry for the late response, but I went looking for the GDT’s thinking I could tell by our posts which games we did well in and which games we didn’t do so well in, but all the posts were deleted when we switched from Disqus.

  • dlb eh

    i also believe Cronin was holding something back, or leaving some stuff out.  i’m sure they pay attention to a number of things, and he didn’t want to make it seem like they are stats focused when something visually tells them what they already need to know.  good read today.

    • rustynail

      dlb eh why would they let their competition know what metrics they use?