Ramblings: Looking at Second-Half Performances, Questioning #FancyStats and Playoff Talk (April 14)

Neil Parker

2017-04-14

 

Viktor Arvidsson - USA TODAY Sports Images

 

Looking at Second-Half Performances, Questioning #FancyStats and Playoff Talk …

 

 

The Blues-Wild game was incredible Wednesday. The Wild drove the possession in the third period to tie the game with 28 shot attempts to 10, 18 shots to six and four high-danger scoring chances to two.

Here's my problem with Minnesota's attack and a qualm with shot attempts in general, and this has been my main holdup with overvaluing possession statistics the past few years. Although, I still probably value them more than most.

First, Minnesota registered 18 shots in the third period, but only 10 were counted as scoring chances and just four as high-danger chances. The shots and shot attempt highlight that Minnesota clearly dominated the play, but that domination didn't translate to consistent scoring chances.

Minnesota posted a Corsi For percentage over 55 percent at five-on-five from March 1 through the end of the season, and after watching them fire the puck from everywhere Wednesday, it's hard to imagine how they didn't approach a 60 percent mark.

Second, a shot attempt might not always be the best play to maintain possession or create an offensive chance. In fact, it might be the wrong play entirely. Mikael Granlund attempted a couple/few wrist shots from the periphery that weren't dangerous, and that Jake Allen handled easily and covered to get a whistle.

And as a little bit of an aside here, this is where I don't understand the negativity hurled at #fancystats. The old hockey adage of "Get Pucks on Net" is the exact same as piling up shot attempts to have a good possession ranking. Isn't it?

Back to Wednesday's game, though. Granlund's shots led to faceoffs, which for simplicity sake are 50-50 battles. Had he held onto the puck and drove deeper into the zone, or even turned it back for his team to regroup and start another rushing attack, it's a much better percentage that Minnesota controls the puck longer and turns their possession of the puck into a better scoring chance than a wrist shot from the wall. Even if we account for Minnesota's strong night at the faceoff dot, and give the Wild a 60-40 chance to win the draw, not attempting the shot was the better play, right?

So, when I saw the possession dominance of Minnesota align with it's underwhelming record down the stretch, it made sense that puck luck wasn't on the side of the Wild. That may still be the case, but the relationship between a team's shot attempts and their scoring and high-danger scoring chances shouldn't be ignored.

Of course, this was one period from one game, and Minnes