Why a Team's Record when they Score 3 or more Goals is an Utterly-Flawed Statistic

A couple of days ago, I saw this run past me on the Twitter: "The Blues are 32-0 when they score 3 or more goals." Now that sounds like a great record, but is it that out-of-the-ordinary? Here are the overall and regulation records when teams scored three or more goals in a game for 2005-06 to 2010-11:

W L T Win %
Overall 6289 2056 754
Regulation 4905 1278 2162 717
OT/SO 1384 778 640

Now what's going on here? I've stressed 8 billion times that OT and particularly the shootout are a giant coin toss. Yet our teams win almost two-third of the time when the game is tied at the end of regulation. How does that even make any sense?

As you might have guessed, it doesn't. If you enter OT or the shootout tied 2-2 and you win, then it goes down in the "win when you score 3 or more goals" column. If you lose, it doesn't show up. So the true winning percentage among teams that score 3 or more goals (which is actually teams that score 3 or more goals in regulation) is 734. But I digress...How rare is it to have a record like the Blues have in these games?

W L OTL/SOW Win %
Median 36.3 6.6 4.2 846
Top 6 42.7 2.0 2.7 930

So there's definitely a team every year that does very well in these games and approaches a perfect record. In fact, the Washington Capitals did not lose a game in regulation last season where they ultimately scored three goals or more - that's 43 games overall; when they went into OT and the shoutout with at least three goals on the scoreboard, they went 6-3 and picked up six wins when they went in with two goals. St. Louis has only gone to OT once when they've scored three goals (27-0) and they've picked up six additional wins when they've gone in with two goals (6-5 overall.)

So St. Louis will probably end up with the best record so far in games where they score three or more goals, and it's noteworthy. But Washington was just as good last season and because of the vagaries the shootout point, nobody noticed.

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