I am not a statistic guy. I have no idea if this stat exists. If it does not, we may have created it. The stat is designed to determine how many shots on goal are actually scoring chances and the percentage relationship between the two. Scoring chances are shots on goal within the Scoring Chance Zone (see diagram below).
First, you are already familiar with what constitutes a shot on goal. No matter from where the shot comes, if the goalie saves it, it’s a shot on goal. Shots are a poor way of measuring offensive success. It’s not coincidence that teams which are often outshot by the opponent still win. That is because there is a more important statistic and that is scoring chances. The NHL does not officially track scoring chances. That may be because there is a bit of subjectivity to the stat. However, one thing most agree upon is the correct dimensions of the ice surface within which shots are considered scoring chances. Here is a diagram of that scoring area as outlined by a green mark.
We call the area in green the “Scoring Chance Zone” (SCZ for short).
You are already familiar with Terry Murray’s shot mentality approach. “Get the puck, shoot.” Don’t have a lane? SHOOT! That’s it. The Kings’ offensive system is built around this system and you see it, in large part, during the LA Kings’ cycles when the team gets the puck to the point and fires away versus what good offensive teams do, which is to actually maintain possession and try to get the puck to the SCZ. Terry Murray is however of the impression the more shots you try to get to the net, the more pucks will get there and the more goals the Kings will score. Unfortunately, so many of the LA Kings shots get blocked (to nobody’s surprise but Murray’s) because they come from the point, outside the SCZ and those that do get through are often easily stopped.
Realize that doesn’t mean shots from the point are useless. Teams score goals that way, especially when there is traffic. However, it cannot be the cornerstone of an offense if that offense is to have any consistency whatsoever.
Let’s look at the Kings v. Penguins game. I will have the numbers for you on the Kings v. Sharks game later tonight or tomorrow.
In the first period, the Kings had 8 shots on goal. How many were in the SCZ? 3 and 2 of them were at sharper angles. Take a look at the illustration below and click on it for the larger image (my apologies for the H and P you see on some of the flags. Those represent Hits and Penalties and I don’t yet know how to turn them off):
The Penguins had 14 shots on goal. 8 of those shots were within the SCZ if you don’t count their goal. The goal was just outside the SCZ (almost on the line) but I still didn’t count it.
Here is the second period. The Kings had 13 shots on goal. Pretty good, right? Well, 6 came from the SCZ including Anze Kopitar’s goal. Look at how many shots came from the outside, essentially padding the shot stats. Imagine if the Kings actually worked those pucks into the SCZ.
In the same period, the Penguins had 10 shots on goal. 8 were within the SCZ. So, while the Pens got 3 less shots on goal, they had 2 more scoring chances.
We then get to the third period. The Kings had 5 shots on goal. 2 were within the SCZ but we will count it as 3 because Anze’s is so close.
The Penguins had 8 shots on goal. 6 came within the SCZ. I am not going to count the one that you see just above the top of the circle although it is as close to the line as that of Anze’s.
In overtime, the Kings had no shots on goal. The Penguins had one and it was within the SCZ (just inside the line).
The Kings played a decent offensive game right? Again, only if you’re Terry Murray. What did we really learn? For the LA Kings, of the 26 shots on goal, 11 came from the SCZ. That means 42% of our shots were scoring chances. For the Penguins, of the 33 shots on goal, 21 came from the SCZ. That is 63%, over 20% better than us. Also, while the difference in shots was only 7, the Penguins had nearly TWICE AS MANY scoring chances as the LA Kings.
Curious about the previous games? Without more diagrams, here are the numbers:
Kings vs. Oilers (Loss 3-0)
The + separates each period.
LA Kings: 19 shots on goal: 1+ 2 + 3 = 6 scoring chances
Edmonton Oilers: 27 shots on goal: 7+ 3 + 6 = 16 scoring chances.
Pretty pathetic. Only 31% of our shots were scoring chances. For the Oilers, that number was 59%. They also had 10 more scoring chances.
Kings vs. Avalanche (Loss 3-2)
LA Kings: 32 shots on goal: 4 + 7 + 3
Colorado Avalanche: Only 16 shots on goal but: 3 + 2 + 4
We doubled up Colorado in shots on goal. We had 14 scoring chances. Colorado only had 16 shots on goal. They had 10 scoring chances. See the problem? The difference in scoring chances is only a difference of 4. 18 LA Kings shots on goal were not quality scoring chances (for a meager 43%) while Colorado managed to get 71% within the SCZ. Beginning to understand why teams that shoot more don’t win more?
Kings v. Coyotes (Loss 3-2)
LA Kings: 39 shots on goal: 7 + 7 + 3 + 0 (OT)
Phoenix Coyotes: 33 shots on goal: 5 (they had 3 shots just outside or on the line but I did not count them) + 7 + 6 + 2 (OT)
We had 6 more shots on goal but the Coyotes had 20 scoring chances to our 17. Our conversion rate of shots to scoring chances was 43% (seeing a pattern?). The Coyotes conversion rate was 60%.
I decided to go back one more game, a victory against the Dallas Stars.
Kings v. Stars (Win 5-3)
LA Kings: 29 shots on goal: 6 + 8 + 4 (Voynov’s goal came from the outside as did the empty netter)
Dallas Stars: 33 shots on goal: 6 + 8 + 4 (and they converted 2 of them)
Well, well, well. Each team had 18 scoring chances and, even though the Stars outshot us, we still won. Our shot to scoring chance percentage was 62%. The Stars’ number was 54%. This is not coincidence. We played a good game, a game uncharacteristic of our typical game and of Terry Murray’s offensive system.
So, where does this leave us?
Almost without exception, the goals came within the SCZ. Ryan Smyth’s goal that went off Martinez’s stick was the lone albatross in that game although, technically, Alec’s stick was in the SCZ. Matt Duchene’s third period goal was just outside of the SCZ. Slava Voynov’s goals was also a point shot. We don’t count the empty netter.
I looked at games around the league. I randomly picked games and looked at the numbers. It applies across the board. Teams that get shots within the SCZ score more goals. The great majority of goals come within the SCZ.
This is not rocket science. I would have been shocked if I saw anything else. This is not only common sense, it is the new NHL. All the good teams know this. All the good teams focus their offensive system on getting pucks to the SCZ and getting shots within the zone…all good teams except the LA Kings. What does Terry Murray want? More shots on goal. There is no focus on scoring chances. Murray is blind to it. It’s not even relevant to his offensive system. What do the LA Kings need? More scoring chances. More pucks within the SCZ.
Will it happen?
I am sorry to say, only if Murray overhauls his offensive system or the LA Kings get a new coach who will.
Categories: L.A. Kings News