Understanding Advanced Stats Just like the NHL Pros

by Thomas Sarver

You can always tell a true hockey fan from a newbie by their understanding of advanced stats. This article will help you become a true hockey fan. Grab your cup of JoFA and your learning caps. Let’s go!

Hopefully, you got a chance to check out part one which covered both Corsi and Fenwick a few days ago. If you did not get a chance to check that out, then feel free to give a click here.

Let’s start with Zone Starts, the simpler of the two, by looking at current Predators leading goal scorer Filip Forsberg.

Why is this so mesmerizing? It’s like watching soap cutting videos. If you don’t know what that is then you’re welcome.

This stat is basically looking at what percentage a player starts a shift in the offensive or defensive zone, which allows fans, scouts, or statisticians to view how a player is used in a sense.

Worth noting is that Forsberg does have a limited sample size given his recent injury but there is no question that he is one of the Preds best players offensively speaking.

In this season’s 28 games, Forsberg has a 65.1% Offensive Zone Start. This means for every 100 face-offs for which he is on the ice, 65 of them occur in the offensive zone, which is consistent when you consider how he is the main goal scorer on the team.

For this stat, you may see a number under oZS% and dZS% which stand for offensive zone start and defensive zone start, but sometimes it’s just a Zone Start %. In that case, you read that as oZS%.

Onto the more neat and complicated of the two stats, PDO. Sometimes labeled as SPSV%, PDO is essentially adding a team’s save and shooting percentage and is the closest stat there is in the NHL to account for luck. This is usually just measured at even strength, so you really are only looking for one number.

In the 2018-2019 NHL season so far, the average shooting percentage is 9.9%, thus making the average save percentage 90.1%. This means that a PDO of 100 is really just league average, so if a player has a PDO above 100 then that players team is getting more goals while their goaltender is playing Pekka-like.

To break this down using the math, let’s say that the end of season numbers for the Preds vs Winnipeg series is 200 shots for Nashville and 250 shots for Winnipeg. If both teams’ PDO was 100, we could assume that Winnipeg would outscore Nashville with a total of 20 goals to 25 goals, give or take.

That is all for those two stats. If you want us to come out with a third part, please let us know in the comments!


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