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Number Munchers: Analyzing Expected Goals for the Blackhawks

Chicago is scoring more than expected, right on pace with calculations and less than what the data predicts.

2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Boston Bruins v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

One of the major issues surrounding the Blackhawks this season is their lack of scoring depth. Besides Patrick Kane (0.55 goals per game), Alex DeBrincat (0.42) and Jonathan Toews (0.37) there are no other Hawks skaters averaging more than 0.30 goals per game this season. Consequently, the team will continue to have a tough time moving their goal differential up from the basement of the NHL. As of Friday, the Hawks have a minus-33 goal differential, which ranks 30th in the league.

Let’s examine individual players and how they are performing based on their expectations. If you would like a deeper dive into how this stat is calculated, click here.

Goal expectations for players take into account a handful of variables, two of which are shot strength and shooter talent. Strength takes into account shot type (slap, snap, wrist, backhand, etc), shot angle (location of the shot compared to the placement of the net), shot distance (how far away did the shooter generate the chance), if the shot was taken on an odd-man rush or man-advantage and a few others. Talent takes into account the shot taker’s shooting percentage juxtaposed against the league average. Here is a chart on the Hawks skaters halfway into the season.

Skaters above the trendline are performing better than expected, those on the trendline are performing on par with prediction models and those under are performing below expectations.

Note: First-year player Jacob Nilsson (two) and 23-year old defenseman Carl Dahlström (11) do not have enough games played this season to have generated an expected goal count.

Out of the 22 skaters on the list, four are performing better than expected (18 percent), twelve are on par with expectations (55 percent) and six are below expectations (27 percent).

The Takeaway

Stan Bowman will finally have some cap flexibility during the offseason - projections hover around $13.4 million, which will inevitably increase when the salary cap inflates. Signing a top 6 scoring threat will need to be a priority to get the Hawks back on the path towards contender status, as well as drafting young offensive talent to fill the pipeline.

The Second City team will examine these numbers again at the 60-plus game mark of the season.