As the NHL playoffs commence at the end of July, let’s discuss some advanced hockey statistics that can further help us handicap the sport. With home-ice advantage being a nonfactor to begin the playoffs, along with the competitively balanced nature of the postseason, these stats can help us gain a slight edge that is ever so needed when betting on this sport.
Hockey is no different than any sport, possession is crucial in order to control the game and produce scoring chances. The following metrics allow us to analyze which teams excel in this category.
Probably the most popular metric – Corsi tracks shot attempts at 5-on-5. Meaning: when a team shoots the puck towards the goal, it’s a Corsi For – When a team gives up a shot attempt, it’s Corsi Against. It also counts missed and blocked shots, as well.
While a relatively elementary concept, Corsi provides a broad view of the possession game as hockey is so fluid that merely watching doesn’t necessarily paint the right picture of what transpired during the game.
Often broken down into percentages, CF% (Corsi For Percentage) is the difference between Corsi For and Against. Having a CF% north of 50% is important as it projects you possessed the puck for more than half the game.
Fenwick tracks the same metrics as Corsi sans blocked shots – sometimes this is utilized to grade out defenseman more accurately.
High-Danger Scoring Chances (HDSC)
Pretty self-explanatory in nature – HDSC tracks the amount of high-percentage scoring chances for and against. While sometimes a team dominates in shots, a majority may have come from the blue line or perimeter, meaning they didn’t produce many true scoring opportunities for or against.
I personally utilize this statistic and Corsi when handicapping games.
Goaltending is typically the hardest position in hockey to accurately assess. Outside of a select few netminders, performance from game-to-game can vary as the position is inherently volatile. The below stats focus on individual success that can help us better predict goalie performance overall.
5v5 Save Percentage (SV%)
Save Percentage is a statistic often used to grade goaltending performance. However, their performance at even-strength (5v5) is more indicative of their skill set as Power Play goals can skew the overall number although the team was a man down. 5v5 sheds light on how the team is playing in front of the netminder along with the individual goaltender, as well.
Expected (xSV%) & Delta Save Percentage (dSV%)
Expected Save Percentage weights the quality of shots a goaltender faced and equates that to what their save percentage should be.
Delta Save Percentage is the difference between a goaltenders xSV% and generic SV%.
Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA)
GSAA compares how many goals each goaltender has saved/allowed compared to a league-average netminder. This helps weed out true performance as each goalies’ performance is contingent on circumstances attributed to the team in front of them – along with their own nightly performance.
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