Frozen Tool Forensics: Empty-Netters

Chris Kane


The beginning of the NHL season is always a fascinating time. So many players seem to do very unexpected things. A lot of them end up being flashes in the pan that get way overhyped, but some are actually much more representative of things to come. In this column we try to tackle some of those ideas to help managers figure out what is real and what is all a mirage. We are going to continue that trend this week with a little review of an often neglected, but highly impactful stat in small sample sizes: empty-net goals.

As per usual Frozen Tools has an excellent report for analyzing empty-net goals. It is titled Empty-Net Goals. The report includes total goals, shots, shooting percentage calculations and of course, empty-net goals. To review for the week, I exported (again to cut down/rearrange columns to make it fit into an article better) our data for the 20 and 21 seasons.

To set expectations a bit we are going to start with last season (our 2020-21 data).

NameAgeTeamGPGENGENG%SOGSH%SH% vs goalie
BRAD MARCHAND33BOS5329517.214320.317.4
JAKE GUENTZEL27PIT5623417.414116.313.9
SIDNEY CROSBY34PIT5524416.715915.112.9
PAVEL BUCHNEVICH26STL542042012016.713.8
BRYAN RUST29PIT5622418.215414.312
ALEX TUCH25BUF5518316.714212.710.8
ANDREI SVECHNIKOV21CAR551532014710.28.3

One thing I notice right away is that we are not dealing with a huge number of goals here. Our league leaders were up at five goals apiece. There are 15 players who put up three, but this is generally our top list here.

I am also noticing that our top empty-netters are getting just about 18 percent of their total goal production from empty-net goals. The one exception is Vladislav Namestnikov who only scored eight goals all season, but five were into an empty net. Wild.

This table also includes our scorers' shooting percentage with and without the empty-net goals included (which will be helpful later).

What I hope is really clear here though is that our totals are very small. Over the course