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Advanced Metric Frequently Asked Questions #8: Scoring Chances

This is Part 8 in a many part series of answers to frequently asked questions about hockey analysis. Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.

For many people, their initial reaction to the notion of statistics in hockey is that they're not really instructive – the game, after all, is fluid, with many different interactions between players, which can't be captured by the kind of static analysis you get from a scoresheet. NHL teams know that, and yet they spend a lot of time watching video – so that they can count up who was responsible for generating scoring chances, both for and against. They count passes, breakouts, missed and made defensive assignments. You name it. Call it what you want, but if you watch game film and count something, that makes it a statistic as shot location or +/-.

Now, for whatever reason, the NHL does not make scoring chances publicly-available. But guys like David Staples at the Edmonton Journal and Dennis King, who contributes to Tyler Dellow’s site, were sufficiently dissatisfied by that lack of data that they started subjectively recording every scoring chance or “error” that occurred during Oilers games. (That’s a lot of hockey to watch.) The results have been great so far, and this season, the entire NW division will be covered, along with various other teams throughout the league.

It's hard to overstate how big this is. Project Scoresheet and Retrosheet have, between them, changed the way baseball games are scored, and reconstructed the long-lost past. All through the efforts of a bunch of volunteers. And when we have scoring chances recorded across the league – and analyzed to determine what they mean to wins and losses – fans will come to view the game very different in the next few years.

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