Chicago Blackhawks passing statistics: An introduction and primer

This post introduces some new passing stats to the Second City Hockey community as well as the man behind them.

(Ed. Note: Readers and SCH community, welcome Ryan Stimson to the team for this season! He'll be contributing some interesting statistical stuff, as you'll see below, and we're excited to have him aboard.)

Hello everyone, my name is Ryan Stimson. I’m a contributing writer at SB Nation's New Jersey Devils blog, InLouWeTrust. Last season, I began tracking passes and shot attempts generated by the Devils. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but as the process evolved and I learned how much data can be collected and analyzed based solely off of a player’s passes, I soon realized how valuable this information would be. Like any process, I’ve taken a step back to see which data is truly important and what is filler. Passes that lead to events were of more importance last season, so I’ve chosen to focus on those for the upcoming season.

So why am I writing about this on a Chicago Blackhawks blog, right? Well, in my desire to obtain more data, I decided to track another team. I wanted it to be a Western Conference team and one that I at least had some interest in. I’ll be forever appreciative that you didn’t let the Philadelphia Flyers win the Stanley Cup back in 2010, so that helped me make a decision to track the Blackhawks stats. I reached out to Satchel and he is graciously allowing me to post my findings at Second City Hockey. I’ll be tracking passing and shot generation data for your Blackhawks and posting my findings every Tuesday morning.

If you’re unfamiliar with my work, I put together a lengthy series of articles this past summer at ILWT. Feel free to peruse if this is of interest to you. The bottom line was this: between the Devils and their opponents last season, teams that were more efficient at generating offense from their passing won four out of every five games played. I want to see how that trend and others hold up to more data and a larger sample of teams.

Summer Passing Series Links

Part One: Efficiency and Winning

Part Two: The Transition Game

Part Three: Offensive Zone Analysis

Part Four: Generating Goals

Part Five: Corsi Contribution

Part Six: Frequency of Offense

Part Seven: Does Accuracy Matter?

Part Eight: Team Comparison

Part Nine: Devils and the Metro

Part Ten: Devils and the Atlantic

Part Eleven: Devils and the Central

Part Twelve: Devils and the Pacific

From these pieces, there's a lot that's important and some that is of lesser importance. Passing alone did not tell us much last season, but shot generation and from where offense was generated were of vital importance in these contests. Each completed pass that results in a shot taken by a teammate counts as one "shot attempt generated" or "SAG." This is tracked to attempt to determine which teammates are better at generating opportunities to shoot. I included a "shot generated" or "SG" to track the highest quality of shot attempts. This is done to measure how much more efficient certain players are in generating shots. This is called SAGE, or Shot Attempt Generation Efficiency. Basically, which players convert more of their SAG figures into actual shots on goal.

Shots by Zone: I decided to separate where shots were being generated from-- within the offensive zone, or on stretch passes, or controlled entry passes from the defensive and neutral zones. This gives us a bit more information about how shots are being generated. You can identify a shot attempt/shot as being generated from the defensive/neutral zones as it has the D/NZ prefix, with OZ serving as the prefix for shot attempts/shots generated from within the offensive zone. The SC prefix indicates the shot attempt/shot was generated from within the Scoring Chance area of the ice.

Corsi Contribution: Finally, a stat you’ve heard of, right? About halfway through last season, I started to break down Corsi and find out a little more about how players contribute to it. Corsi, and Fenwick for that matter, is quite simple and tells us what happened, but nothing as to how or why.

I took the total number of shot attempts for when a specific player was on the ice (his Team CF) and started there. Each player has his own shot attempts (his iCF), so that helps identify a part of a player’s contribution. I then added the shot attempts a player generates (his SAG and A2 SAG) and divided the sum of those three numbers by the Team CF. What I had was a percentage of shot attempts that player directly contributed to: his own shot attempts and those that occurred from his passes.

Corsi Contribution Percentage (CC%) identifies the true shot-generators on each team and how much offense flows through them while on the ice. Depending on how it breaks down, it quickly identifies players that are more shooters as opposed to distributors of the puck in both potential primary and second assist forms. It can pinpoint from where on the ice offense originates from.

2014 and Beyond: For the upcoming season, I've decided to expand upon shot generation and further break down offensive contributions. Going forward, you’ll also see an A2 SAG figure that represents the penultimate pass made before a shot attempt or shot was generated. I call it "A2 SAG" because it essentially tracks potential second assists. You’ll see this stat for all variations you would see the SAG stat (which you can also think of as a potential primary assist). I decided to track this after noticing that a breakout pass from a defenseman often went unrecorded as leading to a shot attempt if another pass is made afterwards.

Also, I'll be tracking passes and shot generation in the Scoring Chance area in front of goal (from the top of face off circles, down through the face off dots, and then to the goal). This will further separate offensive zone performance into higher quality shot attempts and shot attempts from less dangerous areas (i.e. point shots).To Summarize:

  • This season you'll know which Blackhawks generate offense in transition, in the offensive zone, and in the scoring chance area
  • This season you'll know which Blachkaws are most efficient at generating offense in these three areas
  • This season you'll know which Blackhawks contribute most to the team's Corsi totals, as well as how they contribute
  • And I'm sure I'll think of a few other wrinkles to add throughout the season. I always do. /

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or general statements, leave it in the comments or hit me up on Twitter and I’ll do my best to answer in a timely manner.