If you have talked to anyone who has dabbled with in-depth hockey stats before, they will probably tell you that shots are the most debated and controversial topic among statisticans and regular bloggers. Most hockey statisticians use simple shots for/against to judge how effective certain players and teams are at controlling the pace of play, which usually translates to a team winning more often than not. Despite numerous evidence showing that controlling the shot battle usually leads to more victories, there have been detractors to this theory. The usual argument against shots being a predictor of success is that there are some teams who are better at controlling "shots of higher quality" than others. In theory, this makes a lot of sense because shot that comes from close in the slot has a better chance of being a goal than a harmless looking wrister from a weak angle. Thus, the scoring chance project was launched last season where numerous bloggers tracked scoring chances for their favorite teams, myself included. This process has been explained numerous times but if you want a refresher of how we tracked chances, go here.
There have been at least 18 individual team seasons tracked over the last few years and Eric T. of Broad Street Hockey and NHL Numbers discovered a couple months ago that the difference between shot differential and scoring chance differential is minimal. Tracking scoring chances showed us nothing that simple shot data couldn't, so the claim has been made that tracking scoring chances is unnecessary and not more of a predictor of future success. On a team level, I agree but I am still believe that scoring chances have some value, but on an individual level rather than a team level.
Using scoring chance differential doesn't prove to be anymore useful than using shot data, but most fans will tell you that a certain player is better at creating scoring chances than another. These opinions are likely subjective and don't mean much at face value but I've always felt the same way. Whenever I watch a game, I notice that there are some players who are better at getting shots off from dangerous scoring areas and those players could have more value than others. The problems with this belief is not knowing how much of a difference there is between a scoring chance and a regular shot on goal in the long run. You also have to wonder if the number of scoring chances a player records in a year is sustainable over the course of multiple seasons or not.
To see how much of a difference shot location makes for an individual player (if any at all), we can look at where each player shot the puck in a given season and see how many of his shots came from within a dangerous scoring area. This could show us how effective a certain player is at creating offense or how more likely he is to score than a player who is less effective at getting into scoring areas. With help from Greg Sinclair's Super Shot Search web site, I looked at every shot each Carolina player last season and determined whether or not it was a scoring chance. After that, I used this data to see how effective each player was at creating scoring chances.
A closer look at the data is coming after the jump.