In this series, I’ll show you how many there were, from where on the ice they were created, and who was involved in each of the offensive chances created from the passing of the Chicago Blackhawks and their opponents. If unfamiliar with passing statistics, please refer to my primer. This week, we focus on the Hawks opener against the Dallas Stars as well as their smackdown of the Buffalo Sabres.
A few notes on how to read the charts: The "Close" columns indicate which events a player was involved in while the game was within a goal in the 1st or 2nd periods, and a tie game in the 3rd period. The columns that do not have the "Close" designation represent a player’s stats over the course of the game in total.
A second note: This may change from week to week as I’m only concerned with bringing to light the key stats for each game in the past week. Deeper dives and reviews will take place throughout the season to examine all the stats in each situation.
Finally, while last season’s findings led to a perceived importance on transition offense and efficiency, since I’m tracking new data, I’m not beholden to last year’s findings in this investigation. It will take several games to discover what matters and if there is any correlation between last season and this season. Let’s get to it.
Blackhawks and Stars
Starting with the defensemen , you see the Stars defense was able to generate offense through sustained passing plays more often than the Hawks; seven total shot attempts were generated via secondary passes for the Stars, compared to four for the Hawks. The end result for the Hawks, however, was slightly better than the Stars: three shots generated to two.
Niklas Hjalmarsson led the Hawks with two shots generated, one in close situations. Jordie Benn and Trevor Daley of the Stars each generated multiple attempts for the Stars, and finished with one shot generated each.
Moving to the forwards, we see the Hawks forwards were more successful and involved in sustained passing plays to generate offense than their Stars counterparts (six attempts generated to three). Patrick Sharp had two secondary passes lead to two attempts and one shot. Ben Smith, Patrick Kane, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad each added one attempt generated.
Shawn Horcoff had two attempts generated from secondary passes and one shot. Patrick Eaves generated the Stars forwards’ only other shot in this phase of the game.
Moving to primary passes, but sticking with defensemen for now, Duncan Keith led all blue liners with three attempts generated. He added one shot generated as no defensemen generated multiple shots—for the Hawks or Stars. Hjalmarsson added one shot on two attempts generated, bringing his total offensive contribute to three shots generated between both his secondary and primary passes. Johnny Oduya added two attempts generated, but nothing reached the net.
For the Stars, Brendan Dillon added two attempts and one shot generated. Daley added the only other shot generated for the Stars blue line.
For the forwards, Jonathan Toews was on another level than all other Hawks forwards. He generated six total attempts and three shots. No other Hawks forward had more than two attempts generated (Marian Hossa) and Sharp, Hossa, and Dan Carcillo each generated one shot.
While Toews was the Hawks' main man dishing the puck, Ales Hemsky was the Stars’. He finished with three shots generated on five attempts. Jason Spezza and Antoine Roussel each added three attempts, but only one shot.
Overall, the Stars generated eight shots on eighteen attempts, compared to the six shots on thirteen attempts generated by the Hawks.
Blackhawks and Sabres
This one wasn’t pretty if you’re a Sabres fan. I imagine they’re okay with that this year. #McDavid.
Keith led the Hawks secondary passing efforts from the blue line, generating two shots on two attempts from sustained passing plays, both of which came in close situations. Tyler Myers added one shot generated for the Sabres, but only once the Hawks were ahead by two.
The Hawks forwards generated twelve attempts and seven shots from secondary passes. Toews led the group with three shots generated on four secondary passes. Brandan Saad, Matt Kruger, and Jeremy Morin each added one shot on two attempts.
The Sabres added five shots on seven attempts, so they had some moments of sustained passing offense, namely by Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno (one shot on two attempts each).
And now we come to the primary passes. The Sabres blue line generated three shots on six attempts. The Hawks generated nine shots on sixteen attempts! Tracking all of last season, it’s quite rare for a defensive unit to generate sixteen attempts in a single game, let alone nine shots. Blachawks D is good, eh?
Hjalmarsson again was productive, generating three shots on four attempts. Oduya added two shots on four attempts. In fact, each of the six defensemen generated at least one shot.
The story is the same for the forward groups. In fact, if you’re a Sabres fan, I suggest you avert your eyes. The Sabres generated fourteen attempts and nine shots (nine and six in close situations), so that alone is not a bad efficiency rating. However…
The Hawks generated twenty-seven attempts and fourteen shots (twenty and nine in close situations). Kane was a beast, generating seven attempts and four shots. Put another way, in close situations, Kane generated a third of the entire Sabres’ forwards offense.
A2 and Scoring Chances
While primary passing may be self-explanatory, I wanted to say a few words on A2 and Scoring Chance data. If an attempt on goal is made after two successful passes, it stands to reason that is the product of sustained offense and possession, so it will be a focus this season on how this compares, if at all, with some of the efficiency work I did last season. I’ll get into transition and offensive zone data as we get going, but am still working through some ideas with respect to data presentation.
With regards to Scoring Chances, the Hawks feasted on the Sabres, generating six shots on eleven Scoring Chance attempts (remember: a Scoring Chance generated is a complete pass that results in a shot attempt from "the house"). This was a solid turnaround from the Stars game in which they only generated two shots on four attempts.
I’d like to hear from you. What questions do you have about this data? How would you like to see in going forward? Hit me up on Twitter (@RK_Stimp) or in the comments with suggestions!