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Goal Scoring Trends for Half Season

Whatever happened to the goal scoring chart project, you wonder? Here is some closure for you, dear friends.


At the start of this season, I set out to track and chart every goal the Anaheim Ducks scored to provide analysis. After about 35 games, it became evident that concluding the tracking and charting for half the season would provide enough data. The point of the project was both to analyze individual plays but also to keep tabs on how this team scores at the rate it does while posting middling possession numbers.

Through 41 games in 2014-15, the Ducks scored 110 goals (this excludes shootout goals). The team scored 228 goals through all 82 games, or only eight more goals in the second half. While I did not track and chart that half, I still maintained a rough count of the categories used in the first half. The "ways" the Ducks generate offense in the first half was consistent for the full season.

First, a quick note on the categories. I created five even strength categories of goals to best capture the various scenarios that occur in hockey. The first is rush goals, which includes anything with a quick transition. The second is dump-in goals, or goals that occurred after retrieving dumped pucks. (Given that Anaheim is a dump-heavy team, this seemed like an important category.) The third is forechecking goals, or goals that aggressive pressure caused (due to turnover). The fourth is goals off the cycle, which is another staple of this team's attack. The last category is goals off face-offs.

There are two miscellaneous goals that I included in the data. One is a penalty shot and the other is a breakaway goal caused by a linesman kicking the puck to a Ducks player. These can't rightly be categorized in any other manner.

The other goal categories obviously need less introduction: power play goals, empty-net goals, short-handed goals, 4v4 goals, and shootout goals (which don't count toward season totals but are included here for information purposes).

Here's a chart, with some touch up done by Sassy:

The Ducks scored 79 goals at even strength through 41 games, but the orange columns only count 74 goals. Four goals were scored at even strength at the conclusion of play that occurred with a man advantage; I included those goals under the PPG since the majority of their play happened on the power play. The fluke linesman-caused goal was put in the miscellaneous category.

Of the 74 even strength goals, Anaheim scored 30 off the rush/transition. The next two categories, cycle goals (16) and forecheck goals (14), equal the amount of goals scored purely in transition when combined. Only nine goals occurred directly following an offensive zone face-off, and the fewest goals (5) of the bunch were scored as a result of dumping and retrieving the puck.

Here's how that looks in percentage form:

Rush goals account for the most scoring at even strength, which is true among literally every team in the league. There were only two rush attempts that included a dump-in of any kind; all others were pucks carried into the offensive zone with a quick attempt (less than three touches) on net. Both dump-ins were made by Ryan Getzlaf, who retrieves a decent number on his own but also has one of the best forecheckers in the NHL on his wing in Corey Perry. Both of those goals required skill equal to those two players, making them rarer than usual.

To help you see what I mean in the above case, I will recall you to the Getzlaf goal scored against the Detroit Red Wings on October 11. The play was a clear transition play coming out of the defensive zone. Getzlaf received the puck at #4, where after going around one player, he dumped the puck before recovering it (#5) and cutting sharply to the net. Very few players in the league can execute this play.

That so many of Anaheim's goals come off the rush runs against much of how the team attempts to generate offense. It also explains a bit of the disconnect between goals scored and middling possession. The Ducks score the most goals when playing possession hockey. (Rush attempts tend to occur when transition play is disrupted against, which would show up in fewer shots attempts against.) The Ducks score the fewest when playing dump-and-chase hockey. Consider this: of the five dump-in goals scored by Anaheim, only three were intentional plays. The other two were dump-ins made while teammates were going for a change.

Another thing that jumped out at me when tracking how this team scores is the sheer amount of goals coming off the forecheck, a Boudreau staple. Whether the puck was originally dumped or carried into the zone, a play became a forechecking play if the opponent gained control of the puck and attempted to exit the zone in any capacity. In three instances, the turnover occurred in the neutral zone immediately following zone clearance but as a continuation of the offensive zone forecheck before resulting in a goal. The other 11 forechecked goals were caused by turnovers in the offensive end, which is higher than I thought would be the case.

Here are a couple other interesting points from the even strength scoring:
- of the nine face-off goals, five of them involved rebounds off the initial shot or short cycle after the win.
- three of the 16 cycle goals began off a face-off win initially.
- four of the 16 cycle goals began with a definitive controlled (carried/passed puck) zone entry.
- 28 of 30 rush goals came off one shot, with only two requiring any form of rebound effort.
- all of the 4v4 (man-down even strength) goals were rush/transition efforts.

I wanted to include one more chart for clarification purpose. The Ducks scored 19 power play goals in the first half; the team scored 18 in the second half, which is pretty consistent at least. I have 23 in the chart above, because the goal itself occurred at even strength but the entirety of the play happened with a man-up. I wanted to visualize this difference so there's no confusion:

The power play accounted for 23 goals, more or less. That is second only to rush goals by category overall. Just think of how many more goals the Ducks could have each year with a working power play.

The trends seen in the first half of the season carried through to the second half. One day, if I ever have far more free time in my life (or get paid to do hockey things), I will show a full-year of results. This is something that can be tracked much easier now that I have done it for a time before focusing on other things.

Hopefully, taken together with the goal/touch charts from the earlier posts, this project has given you folks some additional insight into the Ducks and hockey itself.