NCHC shot results

UNO-hockey-shots

Watching UNO hockey get manhandled for two consecutive games in St. Cloud this weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how few quality scoring chances the team was able to put together. On the flip side, the Huskies seemed to have a high-probability chance every minute or so. Both teams have played difficult schedules, yet the Mavericks have won many more games that St. Cloud. Meanwhile, on the stat sheet, UNO has much higher season shot and save percentages than St. Cloud, although SCSU’s possession is clearly better than UNO.

So… what’s going on? Is it just luck? Is UNO slumping and SCSU streaking? Is youth finally catching up to UNO and experience paying off for SCSU?

To answer these questions, I took a look at all shots taken this season by every NCHC team. Thanks to College Hockey News, I can now do that for multiple situations (5v5 and power play), and I can also see results of each shot.

There are some interesting observations to be made from looking at shot results. The chart below lists each team’s shot results as a percentage of the total shots they take:

 Shot results – All Shots

Team Blocked Wide Hit Post Saved Goal Total % on Goal
St. Cloud 19.6% (315) 23.2% (372) 1.0% (16) 50.9% (817) 5.2% (84) 1604 56.2%
Colorado College 24.1% (335) 19.4% (270) 0.9% (12) 47.8% (715) 4.1% (57) 1389 55.6%
Miami 22.9% (417) 21.1% (384) 1.3% (24) 50.1% (912) 4.6% (83) 1820 54.7%
North Dakota 24.5% (442) 20.0% (362) 1.2% (21) 48.7% (880) 5.7% (103) 1808 54.4%
Minnesota-Duluth 22.6% (435) 22.5% (434) 1.2% (23) 48.9% (943) 4.8% (93) 1928 53.7%
Western Michigan 23.4% (357) 22.4% (342) 0.6% (9) 48.5% (742) 5.2% (79) 1529 53.7%
Denver 23.7% (400) 21.8% (368) 1.4% (24) 47.8% (807) 5.3% (89) 1688 53.1%
Omaha 24.7% (372) 22.5% (339) 1.2% (18) 46.0% (693) 5.7% (86) 1508 51.7%

First, some minor details. More of Omaha’s shots get blocked than any other NCHC team. Meanwhile, St. Cloud has the fewest amount of shots blocked. However, UNO and North Dakota lead the league in percentage of shots that result in goals. The problem for Omaha is that they take fewer shots than anyone in the league save for Colorado College. And, if you add goals plus shots saved, to count all shots that make it on net, UNO is dead last with 51.7%. Who’s first? St. Cloud, with 56.2%. Even the hapless Colorado College Tigers get 55.6% of their shots on net.

So, let’s isolate even strength vs. power play situations.

 Shot results – Even Strength

Team Blocked Wide Hit Post Saved Goal Total % on Goal
St. Cloud 19.5% (248) 23.4% (297) 0.7% (9) 52.2% (663) 4.3% (54) 1271 56.4%
Colorado College 23.1% (243) 20.1% (212) 0.9% (9) 52.6% (554) 3.3% (35) 1053 55.9%
North Dakota 23.5% (326) 20.6% (285) 1.1% (15) 50.0% (692) 4.8% (54) 1271 54.8%
Miami 23.4% (316) 21.1% (284) 1.3% (18) 50.2% (677) 4.0% (54) 1349 54.2%
Western Michigan 23.8% (289) 22.1% (269) 0.4% (5) 49.3% (599) 4.4% (53) 1215 53.7%
Denver 23.2% (310) 22.3% (298) 1.1% (15) 48.7% (652) 4.7% (63) 1338 53.4%
Omaha 24.5% (285) 21.6% (251) 1.0% (12) 47.6% (552) 5.3% (61) 1161 52.8%
Minnesota-Duluth 23.1% (345) 23.2% (346) 1.2% (18) 48.5% (724) 4.1% (61) 1494 52.5%

Not a whole lot of difference in even strength versus the overall numbers. St. Cloud is still the best at getting shots on net, followed by Colorado College. Interestingly, Duluth is worse at even strength than UNO, and the Mavs are only slightly behind Denver and Western Michigan. Good news? Well, not necessarily. It means the big differences are seen on the power play:

 Shot results – Power Play

Team Blocked Wide Hit Post Saved Goal Total % on Goal
Minnesota-Duluth 22.4% (83) 21.9% (81) 1.4% (5) 47.8% (177) 6.5% (24) 370 54.3%
Colorado College 27.8% (84) 17.6% (53) 0.7% (2) 47.4% (143) 6.6% (20) 302 53.9%
St. Cloud 20.9% (63) 23.6% (71) 1.7% (5) 44.2% (133) 9.6% (29) 301 53.8%
Miami 22.4% (91) 22.4% (91) 1.5% (6) 47.9% (195) 5.9% (24) 407 53.8%
Western Michigan 23.0% (61) 24.2% (64) 1.1% (3) 41.9% (111) 9.8% (26) 265 51.7%
Denver 26.3% (82) 19.6% (61) 1.1% (15) 43.6% (136) 7.7% (24) 312 51.3%
North Dakota 29.7% (113) 19.2% (73) 1.3% (5) 42.6% (162) 7.1% (27) 380 49.7%
Omaha 27.6% (86) 25.0% (78) 1.9% (6) 37.8% (118) 7.7% (24) 312 45.5%

Here, Duluth is the best team. Not only are they taking more shots than most teams, more of those shots are getting on net than any other team. St. Cloud is also still doing well in the category. The only team that stands out is the Mavericks, who get about 9 of every 20 power play shots to the goaltender.

So add all this up, and what do you get? You have a UNO team that is taking the least amount of shots in the NCHC, and the least percentage of those shots are getting to the goaltender. Hardly a recipe for sustained success.

But what’s it matter, you say, when UNO has the highest shooting percentage of all eight teams? Surely that helps. Part of it is talent, but part of it is also luck. And luck is unsustainable. PDO is a stat that measures “luck.” The idea is that any team above 100 is getting some bounces their way, while any team below has had some bad breaks. It is also understood that teams significantly above or below 100 will regress toward the mean. The current NCHC PDO numbers are:

 Team PDO – Feb. 22

Team PDO
Omaha 103.10
North Dakota 103.08
Denver 101.74
Western Michigan 100.57
St. Cloud State 99.96
Miami 99.93
Minnesota-Duluth 99.62
Colorado College 94.83

So right now, UNO has the highest PDO in the league. This means two things:

  1. They have been very fortunate.
  2. They are due for some “regression toward the mean.”

Furthermore, the two most unlucky NCHC teams – Duluth and CC – are also the last two teams on UNO’s schedule. Their PDOs would suggest their bad luck is unsustainable, meaning some bounces are due their way.

These are ominous signs for UNO, but it’s not all bad news. So far, the Mavericks have had luck, and they’ve certainly had talent in their freshman and sophomore classes. What they don’t have is experience. Over the course of this season, those who have followed the Mavs might have been lulled into a false security that a lack of experience can be overcome. To a degree, it can if you have talent and luck. But in another sense, it cannot.

Consider NCHC team experience levels:

Team Experience

Team Underclassmen Upperclassmen % Underclass
Omaha 16 7 69.6%
Western Michigan 15 10 60.0%
Minnesota-Duluth 13 10 56.5%
Denver 13 11 54.2%
Colorado College 12 11 52.2%
North Dakota 11 12 47.8%
St. Cloud State 10 13 43.4%
Miami 8 17 32.0%

UNO is the most inexperienced team at the NCAA level. That is not a surprise. What is surprising is they lead the conference in team shooting percentage (11.09%) and are 2nd in save percentage (92.37%). Their possession, however, is second-worst, at 44.8%. Meanwhile, Miami is the most experienced team. Miami also a relatively low NCHC team shot percentage of 8.54%, and a barely average save percentage of 91.24%. They also lead the NCHC in possession with an SAT%/Corsi of 56.8%.

What this suggests is that possession not only matters, but that experience matters to possession, because experience players get more shots to the net. That hypothesis is backed up by the stats:

Underclass% correlations

Result Correlation
All blocked 0.44
All wide 0.28
All on net -0.71
5v5 blocked 0.45
5v5 wide 0.14
5v5 on net -0.53
PP blocked 0.35
PP wide 0.26
PP on net -0.63

In English: Rosters with more experience get fewer shots blocked, shoot fewer shots wide and get waaaaay more of their shots on the net. This holds for both even strength and power play situations.

So it turns out that UNO may have a youth problem after all. Younger players are far less likely to get their shots on goal, and if you can’t get shots on goal, you don’t have good possession numbers. In fact, UNO’s high shot percentage might be high because it gets so few shots on goal.

Meanwhile the NCHC’s leading team, North Dakota, gets a high percentage of its shots on net, has a high shooting percentage, and has great goaltending. That’s why they consistently win. If UNO both took more shots and got more shots on the net, they’d look a lot like the Green Team with No Mascot.

The long story short? Make opposing NCHC goalies work harder – get more shots on net.

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