Zone Starts and Expected Scoring Chances


Ovechkin is out of sorts. Does anyone know why? (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Semin cooled off, Marcus Johansonn started to heat up, Ovechkin is un-Ovechkin-y, and we saw the Caps get shut out for the first time in almost a year. Quite an up-and-down week. Despite it all, scoring chances are once again preserved for posterity.

I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. As always, you can find the spreadsheet online.

Coach Boudreau used every line combo imaginable this week (except for the much ballyhooed DJ King-Steckel-Ovechkin line), so I thought we would look at expected scoring chance percentage (SC%). Scoring chance percentage is the amount of scoring chances-for (SCF) that go in the Caps favor when a particular player is on the ice. For example, if a skater is on the ice for 6 scoring chances-for and only 4 against his  SC% would be 60% (6 chances for divided by all 10 chances when on ice). If we know how often a player is deployed in the offensive zone, we can calculate their expected scoring chance percentage. Then it is simple subtraction: subtract the actual from the expected and we can see each player’s true efficiency. All numbers are for even strength only.

TOI = Time on ice
SCF = Scoring chances for
OffZone% = Offensive zone start percentage

ExpSC% = Expected scoring chance percentage
Delta = Actual SC% – Expected SC%
Dangerous% = Shots directed at net (including missed and blocked shots) that come from dangerous scoring areas. For forwards I look at shots for, for defensemen shots against.


Player TOI (EV) SC% OffZone% ExpSC% Delta Dangerous %
Boyd Gordon 118.7 57.4% 43.0% 46.5% 10.9% 20.6%
Brooks Laich 242.4 59.3% 55.0% 52.5% 6.8% 28.2%
Nicklas Backstrom 301.8 56.2% 56.0% 53.0% 3.2% 26.7%
Tomas Fleischmann 223.7 52.9% 52.9% 51.4% 1.5% 27.2%
Mike Knuble 259.1 54.7% 56.8% 53.4% 1.3% 24.3%
Alexander Semin 277.2 54.5% 56.9% 53.4% 1.1% 30.6%
Alex Ovechkin 329.0 51.6% 55.4% 52.7% -1.1% 29.0%
Eric Fehr 209.8 49.5% 53.7% 51.8% -2.4% 28.0%
Matt Hendricks 171.1 49.3% 53.9% 52.0% -2.7% 24.6%
Jason Chimera 236.1 46.9% 52.9% 51.4% -4.5% 27.5%
Matt Bradley 144.3 48.5% 56.4% 53.2% -4.7% 28.6%
Marcus Johansson 126.6 46.2% 57.6% 53.8% -7.6% 31.8%
David Steckel 156.6 39.3% 47.6% 48.8% -9.5% 25.9%

The reason for my man-crush on Boyd Gordon should be clear by now, but if it isn’t consider that he starts in the offensive zone only 43% of the time. He should have an expected scoring chance percentage of 47%, but instead it is second highest among forwards at 57%. In less math-speak, he is doing way better than he should when it comes to putting scoring chances in the Caps’ favor. And by “way better” I mean a team best.

Whiskey tango foxtrot Ovechkin? I wish I had last year’s data as a reference, but I am sure we can agree: something’s not right. You would think he would be driving the Caps’ chances in their favor (at least as much as Boyd Gordon or Tomas Fleischmann) but it just seems like he is struggling. Feel free to give your thoughts as to why in the comments. Creativity counts.

Marcus Johansonn is starting to trend in the right direction, and he leads the Caps with scoring chances from dangerous areas. As HCBB’s trust in him grows and he gets more time with better teammates, look for his boxcar stats to uptrend as well.


Player TOI (EV) SC% OffZone% ExpSC% Delta Dangerous %
John Erskine 270.2 49.7% 43.3% 46.7% 3.0% 26.3%
John Carlson 353.7 52.3% 51.9% 50.9% 1.4% 26.5%
Karl Alzner 327.2 53.4% 56.6% 53.3% 0.1% 25.3%
Jeff Schultz 357.6 52.6% 57.7% 53.9% -1.3% 29.2%
Tyler Sloan 179.3 51.2% 55.0% 52.5% -1.3% 24.9%
Mike Green 306.6 51.2% 55.5% 52.7% -1.5% 28.2%
Tom Poti 77.3 46.3% 58.3% 54.2% -7.8% 27.9%

Carlzner is starting to get stuff done. They are driving scoring chances in the right direction, and keeping shots-against from dangerous scoring areas to respectable levels.

John Erskine, despite being used mostly in the defensive zone, is also doing his part to exceed expectations in regards to scoring chances.

Tom Poti looks to be struggling with his injury even when he is on the ice. Starting 6 out of every 10 times in the offensive zone should allow him to keep the puck going in the right direction, but instead he has the worst delta on the team. Get well soon, Poti.


Player 5v5 TOI 5v5 SC Sv% Dangerous %% PK TOI PK SC Sv%
Michal Neuvirth 753.8 83.1% 28.8% 103.4 78.7%
Braden Holtby 118.6 69.6% 23.7% 14.4 88.9%
Semyon Varlamov 79.1 88.9% 28.6% 11.6 57.1%

Not the best of weeks for Braden Holtby where bad play and soft goals got him pulled after against ATL. That 5v5 scoring chance save percentage is atrocious, despite the Caps defense giving him better support on shots coming from dangerous scoring areas, so don’t be surprised if he is sent back down to Hershey. Good news is you can still follow him on our sister site, Sweetest Hockey on Earth.

  • Rob

    Backcheck… it, and we can win the cup…don’t ? we are out in the 1st round again….watch the forwards, see if they can do it. Yea thats why you like Gordo so much ;^)

    Throw away the numbers, teams that backcheck, win cups, thats my new analysis.

  • Mily

    Aliens came and abducted Ovie-ness from Ovie during a night of partying. Nobody noticed because of the strobe lights and the beat. Ovechkin thought he did a little too much head thumping by the DJ’s turntable. Now he’s spends most of the game devising ways to get back at the aliens. The aliens is now trying to convert the awesomeness to fuel their space craft back to their home planet.

    That, or he’s been hexed by a wizard. Slumpificus!

  • CapsFan1975

    “much ballyhooed DJ King-Steckel-Ovechkin line” LOL on that one!

  • Em

    I usually love being right, but with this Ovi thing…I hate that I saw this coming. Something is stinky in the land of Ovi, and, as Ovi might say, “I don’t fink it’s doze telotchkis.” BOOM.

  • BobbyG

    Mily and Em have it right. All is not well in the land of Ovie because he’s spending too much time and energy on non-hockey activities and not enough time and energy paying attention to his game. Maybe after the aliens that abducted him are finished they will return him to his Gr8ness. At least we can hope. BOOM!