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Ducks Stat-urday: 3.33 Average Goals Scored Per Game

Can the Ducks maintain their offensive output this year? Are they for real?

What, you don't think this team is for real either?
What, you don't think this team is for real either?
Doug Pensinger

Through Anaheim’s first 18 games of the season (since I’m writing this before our game against the Wild), the Ducks are averaging 3.33 goals per game, which is good for third in the league (yay for cute little coincidences). Much has been written around these parts (and throughout the hockey blogosphere) about whether or not this offense is sustainable, but I wanted to take a deeper look at what’s powering the Ducks’ surge.

As a point of reference, the Ducks finished the 2011-2012 season with 2.45 goals per game, which was good for 23rd in the league. Scoring throughout the league seems to be up this year, as the Ducks’ current 3.33 would have been tied for best overall with the Penguins last year. But I digress. For comparison’s sake, I also wanted to note that last year’s Ducks finished with 27.9 shots per game, which was 24th in the league.

Let’s take a look at how the Ducks’ goals per game and shots per game stack up against the other top scoring teams in the league.


Goals Per Game

GPG Rank

Shots Per Game

SPG Rank

Tampa Bay




















St. Louis





So that doesn’t actually look as bad as I expected. In your head, it logically makes sense that there would be a strong correlation between shots and goals, but this data certainly doesn’t bear that out. Obviously, we’re only talking about the first 18-20 games of a season, but you’d certainly expect to see more of a trend that you do here. The fact that the Ducks rank 25th in the league in shots is somewhat troubling, but the most explosive offense in the league is only two spots ahead of them. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between shots and goals (at least for the top-5 teams); randomness rules the day.

The Effect of Hatties

Through their first 18 games, the Ducks now have two hat tricks (Nick Bonino’s effort against the Kings on Feb 2 and KP’s masterpiece from Wednesday night). No other team this season has more than two, and only New York and Philadelphia have also seen their players net two hatties this year. And among the top-5 teams described above, only Pittsburgh has seen one if its players record a hat trick this year.

It’s hard to state how exactly the individual performances of Bonino and Palmieri might be impacting the team’s overall scoring numbers, but their breakout nights are obviously inflating the team’s overall scoring. The fact that Bonino and Palmieri, two guys who you probably wouldn’t classify in the top-6 (though Palms is a tweener), have recorded the tricks only further amplifies the amount of distortion on the overall goal-scoring numbers. If Corey Perry or Teemu Selanne were on this list, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Those guys are expected to get you hat tricks. But your depth players definitely are not. Which leads me to…

The Bruce Effect

Throughout his coaching career, Bruce has developed a reputation for being an offensive whiz. While Boudreau seems to take issue with that assertion, there’s no denying that Bruce’s teams have achieved some degree of success. We’ll get to the offensive numbers later on, Bruce’s teams have consistently made the playoffs (the Caps made the playoffs each of the four years he finished the season with them), or even won it all (his 2006 Hershey Bears won the Calder Cup and they nearly won it again in 2007, losing only in the finals). Though the Ducks missed the playoffs last year, they made a furious rally under Boudreau, going 27-23-8 under him to finish the season.

Now for the offense. While Bruce has certainly coached some talented players, here’s how his teams have fared in terms of scoring over the past six years.


Goals Per Game

GPG Rank

2007-2008 Washington Capitals



2008-2009 Washington Capitals



2009-2010 Washington Capitals



2010-2011 Washington Capitals



2011-2012 Anaheim Ducks



2012-2013 Anaheim Ducks



There isn’t a perfect correlation here, but we basically have three seasons in the top-3, two seasons in the middle third of the league, and one season in the bottom third. Overall, 4 of the 6 years are in the upper half of scoring, and the Ducks’ current rate would rank second in terms of goals per game under his teams.

And for the record, the Capitals averaged 2.85 goals per game the year before Bruce took over, good for 17th in the league.


The Ducks probably won’t maintain a rate of 3.33 goals per year. That said, they shouldn’t fall much from that level. They’ve had several games where they’ve hit five-plus goals (they’ve already done that 6 times this year, they did it only 7 times all of last season) and some of the Ducks’ biggest guns are only now getting going. Furthermore, there does seem to be some evidence that Bruce’s teams have some offensive pop and that he’s able to squeeze more out of his lineups than most other coaches.

Whatever happens the rest of the way, it’s pretty likely that Anaheim will finish off better this year (both in terms of overall position and goal-scoring rate) than they did last season. Whether or not you buy into that success is completely up to you. Speaking personally, I think our numbers look a little better than they probably should, but I also think this team plays so much better for Bruce than they tended to for Carlyle. So call me a believer.