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Last night the Avs played the Stars. I thought the Avs had a lot of chances, and actually played pretty decent. Raycroft made some great stops and the Avs lost. It's frustrating as all hell, but the Avs are getting their chances. I honestly thought the Avs played pretty well, and that they created some scoring chances. I thought the Stastny-Duchene-Hejduk line was the best line on the ice, at least for the Avs, especially after the first period. It was nice to see after they played poorly in the Edmonton game (but tempered by winning that game)

Well I am certainly in the minority on that view, as a lot of fans and followers thought all the Avs shots were from the point and that Raycroft made a lot of easy saves. It was a common thought on Mile High Hockey and friend of the Blog Dater had this to say about them (in general lately, but after the Dallas loss):

The shots are just too easy to stop, because not enough bodies are in front of the net screening the goalie and/or fighting for rebounds. There are few rebounds anyway, because goalies have too much time and space to see the puck.

Thanks to great work by NHL.com I can actually go look at who was right (hint: me or I wouldn't be writing this):
After the jump I go give my findings and post some video proof.


By my count the Avs had 10 quality scoring chances on 36 shots, and Dallas had 9 on 34 shots... which is just about even (EN goals don't count).

Lines chances:

Duchene-Stastny-Hejduk (5)
Landeskog-O'Reilly-Winnik (2)
Winnik-McClement (sh) - (2)
McClement-Porter-Kobasew (1) (1G)

The Avs line that led the way with the most chances--- Hejduk-Stastny-Duchene. Here's all five of their good chances just for shits and giggles:

This first chance is probably the weakest of the chances. It is a shot from the point, but Hejduk is running a screen/tip. In fact, there's a guy in front of the net just as Dater says isn't happening.






This second chance actually has two great chances. I wish the play started a little earlier to see the very nice play Duchene & Stastny teamed up to make to cause the little pseudo- 2vs.1 Later in the highlight Shane O'Brien fires a shot from the point that Raycroft has to reach around Stastny to see. Again, a guy parked right in front of the goalie.

 

Here's the 4th scoring opportunity of the night for the Duchene-Stastny-Hejduk line (counted as 1). After an initial shot that wasn't dangerous Duchene takes a shot that Raycroft gives up a rebound on because Stastny's in front of the net (a common theme here). The puck bounces to the point where Wilson has a shot that pin balls around the traffic in front and Stastny gets a good whack at at the side of the net.



And finally, here's a chance where the Avs have three players in front of the net fighting for the puck, it comes to Stastny who gets it wide to Duchene who has a point blank chance he puts up over the net. I remember this one vividly because the puck was on a trajectory to land in my seat on Duchene's shot. I was in the third deck.




So there you have it. 5 scoring chances, which is a pretty good game for a top line. 10 scoring chances is right around what league average is in games* (which I'm calculating and don't have enough data to make definitive statements... yet) so it's not like the Avs didn't get a normal number of chances. Their chances just didn't go in. It's a broken record we're all tired of, but it's happening.

But too many times people have a bit of hindsight bias, or revisionist history. This especially happens when a team is struggling. We come to expect them not to score so those great scoring chances don't feel great at the time. They feel mundane. And we come up with reasons why good shot totals aren't translating into goals.

But the "weak shots" argument doesn't hold, at leats not for this game (or any of these games I documented, save the Calgary one). 

I will be writing about this one more time, with a full database, but right now it looks as if scoring chances and shots correlate and that about 1/3 shots is a good scoring chance, at least by my counting standards. The worst I've seen yet is 1/5 and the best is 1/2. That's not a hwole lot of variation.