Anaheim DucksArizona CoyotesBoston BruinsBuffalo SabresCalgary FlamesCarolina HurricanesChicago BlackhawksColorado AvalancheColumbus Blue JacketsDallas StarsDetroit Red WingsEdmonton OilersFlorida PanthersLos Angeles KingsMinnesota WildMontréal CanadiensNashville PredatorsNew Jersey DevilsNew York IslandersNew York RangersOttawa SenatorsPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh PenguinsSt Louis BluesSan Jose SharksSeattle KrakenTampa Bay LightningToronto Maple LeafsVancouver CanucksVegas Golden KnightsWashington CapitalsWinnipeg Jets

Charting Scoring Chance Events

Last week I laid out my theory regarding the contentious subject of tracking scoring chances as a relevant statistical tool when attempting to reach a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics of hockey.  I also explained the need for a shift in perspective from the offensive team’s to the goalie’s when redefining the concept of a scoring chance in today’s fast paced game (see ‘REFINING THE SCORING CHANCES DISCUSSION’).

Now let’s go from theory to practice.  The whole idea of tracking scoring chances was born from the instinctive knowledge that not every shot is created equal in terms of scoring expectancy.  The same logic applies to the wide variety of scoring chances that can occur.  If we are going to record all scoring chances, we can categorize them by quality level.

The goal here is to come up with a uniform charting system and complementary scorekeeping spreadsheet that allows statisticians to record all scoring chance related events.  Think of the endless possibilities if we could actually ‘datafy’ context in the game of hockey.

Since the aim of any data-gathering endeavor is maximum objectivity, it is imperative that we start by clearly defining some of the terms we will be using in order to avoid any ambiguity in wording within the chart:

Shot attempt: in order to qualify as a scoring chance, a shot attempt must be unblocked, clearly intended to hit the net and have at least enough momentum to potentially hit the end boards.  A fanned attempt at the puck (swing-and-a-miss) is not considered a shot attempt.

One-timer: shot attempt taken directly from a teammate’s pass without first having to stop the puck’s momentum.

Clean: a clean play or release implies that the shooter is able to release the puck with full expected velocity, according to the shot type.

Partial: refers to a release that does not result in full expected velocity.

Off-balance: refers to the shooter’s body position not permitting optimum release (i.e.: hit as he is shooting, 360 degree spin move while shooting, one-timer attempt following off-centered pass, etc.).

Own chance: chance created by the shooter himself (as opposed to an assisted chance on a shot that directly follows a tape-to-tape pass from a teammate).

Deflection: any shot (or shot-pass) that changes direction (laterally or vertically) off any stick (attacker or defender) and results in a SOG (to avoid confusion when referring to shot type, a tip is simply an offensive deflection).

Bank: any shot attempt that changes direction off a body part or object (boards, ice chip, etc.) and results in a SOG.

Backdoor: any shot attempt that immediately follows a play that originated from the opposite side of the net (necessitating a quick lateral move by the goalie).

Screen: a goalie is considered screened when one or more bodies are directly between him and the puck when the shot is taken or the instant before it hits the net.

Contested: a shot attempt is considered contested by a defender when the latter is within a stick length of the shooter as he releases the puck, therefore hurrying the play.

Catch and release (C&R): shot released within 2 seconds of pass reception (puck’s momentum interrupted).


We often hear it on TV broadcasts: “He just missed on a Grade-A scoring chance!”  Very knowledgeable hockey analysts instinctively realize that scoring chances vary in quality.  In honor of this contemporary expression, I will use this terminology in my grading system. 

I will preface this listing by insisting on its evolutionary nature.  It was conceived by watching countless NHL games over the past few years and taking copious notes, but only by actually gathering considerable amounts of data using this system will we be able to fully understand exactly how valuable each type of chance truly is.  Here is my preliminary grid (note: chances from “Home Plate” area are bolded):


-          clean one-timer from area

-          clean one-timer or C&R on backdoor play

-          breakaway

-          deflection or bank on net from area

-          clean backdoor shot attempt off rebound or bank

-          screen shot attempt from area

-          instant clean shot attempt off giveaway from area

-          instant clean backdoor shot attempt off giveaway


-          clean one-timer on net off crisp lateral pass

-          own chance shot attempt from area

-          delayed (more than 2 seconds) shot attempt off passing play from area

-          screen shot on net

-          C&R attempt from area

-          partial C&R or shot attempt on backdoor play

-          clean shot attempt off rebound or bank from area

-          deflection or bank on net

-          contested breakaway

-          clean wrap-around shot attempt (shooter’s feet in front of goal line)


-          off-balance, partial or contested own chance shot attempt from area

-          off-balance, partial or contested shot attempt off rebound, bank or giveaway from area

-          partially blocked shot (considerable drop in velocity) on net from area

-          off-balance wrap-around shot on net (at least one shooter’s foot behind goal line)

Notice that some of the premium scoring chance can come from outside the conventional scoring area (or “Home Plate”), simply because they make the goalie’s job very difficult.  If a save is made on any of these Grade “A” chances, it must be spectacular.

Come back to us next week when I reveal the scoring chance tracking spreadsheet.  I will explain its contents and use it to chart chances in one of next week’s marquis NHL match-ups: Colorado at Phoenix, next Thursday night.  I’ll also conclude this three-part series with a few preliminary observations made from a tracking of team chances during last spring’s Stanley Cup Finals.