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Tag: Expected Goals

Key Advanced Stat Places VGK Among NHL’s Elite

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are in first place in the Western Conference. They are in first place in the Pacific Division. They are in 4th place in the entire league.

They’ve been among the NHL’s best teams based on record since the moment the season began. However, a lot of that was based on a torrid start to the season that has since cooled off significantly. VGK jumped out to a 13-2-0 start to begin the Bruce Cassidy era, but they have continued at just 14-11-2.

The first 15 games had them on pace for a 142 point seaon. Obviously, as that would break the single-season record by 10 points, playing at that level would clearly have the Golden Knights as the elite team in the league. The most recent 27 games though leave reason for pause, especially if you watched Saturday night’s game from start to finish. The .571 points percentage since November 10th would have them on pace for 94 points over a full season, clearly not elite.

This all came up in my mind because of a recent tweet that has the Golden Knights in a very enviable place.

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Expect More Success Based On Expected Goals

Hockey can be a cruel sport. Sometimes a team dominates the game but a bounce here or there costs them a win. Other times a team can be getting smoked but their goalie stands on his head and keeps him in it.

It’s almost astounding how often in the game of hockey that the scoreboard and the stat sheet doesn’t match up. Whether you are looking at shots, Corsi, Fenwick, chances, PDO or anything else, from game to game, stats lie.

It’s why many times after losses Gerard Gallant steps to the podium and says something like “we played well but…” or “if we keep playing like that…” sending a positive message despite his team dropping the game.

Over the course of 60 minutes, the better team loses a lot. Over the course of seven games, it happens from time to time. Over the course of a season, or even multiple seasons, stats usually don’t lie.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the biggest challenges that #NotAMajor has thrown the Golden Knights, and its fans, is an inability to fairly compare the two teams from Year 1 to Year 2. While the 17-18 Golden Knights went to the Cup Final and nearly completed the fairy tale, there’s a strong argument that the 18-19 team was better. But, since they were bounced in the first round it’s tricky to compare the teams.

There’s a fairly new stat bouncing around the hockey world called “expected goals” which could help not only sort out the difference between the first two teams, but also predict the future of the 2019-20 team. What expected goals calculates is how often a team should have scored compared to how often they actually did. It’s based on shot location compared to the league average. The closer the shot to the net, the better chance it has to go in.

The stat is measured in “expected goals for,” “expected goals against,” and then a difference is calculated based on the actual numbers that were scored and allowed.

Goals Scored175173-2
Goals Allowed157162+5
Expected Goals182.3201.218.9
Expected Goals Against175.0171.93.1

As you can see, the Year 2 Golden Knights should have scored much more, but didn’t.

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