Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Even-Strength Scoring Rate - before and after the lockout

I was looking at James Mirtle's post on how the new penalty/refereeing regime has changed the NHL, post-lockout, and I started wondering if we could see a difference in even-strength scoring rates. It stands to reason that teams score just as often on the power-play as they used to, but may be less inclined to clutch-and-grab at even-strength because of the increased risk of getting called for it.

Here are the results:

Year ESG/60 Mins
2000-01 5.24
2001-02 5.03
2002-03 5.03
2003-04 4.78
2005-06 5.78
2006-07 5.44
2007-08 5.09

This isn't exactly correct; I'm including OT goals but not OT time. I'm also assuming that the average length of a power-play that ends in a PPG is one minute, and that all power-play opportunities where there's no PPG are two minutes. This is not correct, but NHL TOI data is terrible before 2002-03, so I pulled this from ESPN and made the approximations. I'll take a look at the NHL data again and see if I can do a bit better.

At any rate, even-strength goal-scoring was dropping very precipitously prior to the lockout. The new rules completely changed everything - but the league has quickly come back to where it was just before the lockout. On top of that, as James' post shows, the rate at which penaties are awarded has dropped too. Everything's back to where it was in 2002-03 - but we have a lot more hooking calls. So even though scoring rates are no different, clutching-and-grabbing is much more likely to result in a penalty - which potentially allows for more skilled play, though I'm not convinced.


Hey, thanks for running this stuff. It is awfully fishy, but I suspect it speaks to two things:

1. When PPs increased with the rule changes, the importance of 5-on-5 scoring declined. Not that it wasn't welcome still, but there was more emphasis on drawing penalties and cashing in on power plays.

2. The one theme to the new penalties is that it became more "difficult" to defend, but really, it didn't become any less important. I think teams have adopted a lot more conservative approach so that they can always be in good defensive position. That's become more important than it was before, and I think it's hurting the offense.
Just thinking out loud here. These numbers don't really take into account penalty shots, right? Maybe it's just warped perception but it seems like the number of penalty shots awarded during NHL games has gone up considerably. Is that the case?

Even if it is the case, there probably aren't enough of them to make you want to factor that into your stats... But maybe worth thinking about.
The number of penalty shot goals per year, starting in 2000-01:

11, 11, 9, 18, 35, 25, 12*

[* thus far in 2007-08]

There's something like 4500 5-on-5 goals scored in the NHL each year, so 10-20 extra PSGs are in the noise.
Hawerchuk, send me an email if you get a chance. I wanted to see if you can make it down to San Jose for a game.
re: PP length. I think I estimated that the average NHL power play lasts 1.4 minutes. This includes PP that end because a goal is scored as well as those abbreviated 15 second ones that end because of another penalty is called.
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