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Introducing Shooting Plus Save Percentage (SPSV)

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks

The NHL unveiled its Enhanced Stats site section on Feb. 20, featuring dozens of new statistical categories that help illuminate the game even further for fans of all persuasions. The new platform offers a starting point for casual fans trying to learn about the finer points of hockey.

Advanced metrics are nothing new to the sport, but in recent years they’ve gathered a mainstream following, with more fans tuning in to metrics like Corsi, Fenwick and PDO. It can seem like a daunting task to learn all of these new acronyms, but BHTV’s new series, “The Numbers Game,” will break them down in a way so that Blackhawks fans can relate.

One type of player evaluation that traditional hockey stats can’t account for is “puck luck” – bounces that don’t fall under a player’s complete control. No matter the skill level or work ethic of any skater, there are two things that are out of their hands: the performance of both team’s goaltenders. Sometimes players get on a hot streak, leading to high shooting percentages, and sometimes they seemingly can’t buy a goal. The SPSV stat – Shooting Plus Save Percentage – quantifies luck as a fluctuating number, with the understanding that extremely high or low percentages in either category are generally not sustainable over a longer period of time.

The basic formula for team SPSV is:

EV shooting percentage + EV save percentage

Logically, SH% and SV% across all 30 NHL teams will always add up to 100 at 5-on-5, whether it’s in one game or over the course of a season, which is why 100 is considered league average. Through 72 games in 2014-15, Chicago has a 6.9 EV SH% as a team and a 93.4 EV SV%, which adds up to 100.3 – right around league average. While scoring and goaltending may change with each game, this number indicates that the team’s overall performance is not likely to fluctuate dramatically moving forward.

For players, the formula includes all shots for and against while they are on the ice at even strength, so they will often differ from individual SH%.

As mentioned before, SPSV will often rise or dip over time, on both an individual and a team basis. Teams will see their SPSV regress to around the 100 mark, although it’s understood that truly elite goaltenders (e.g. Henrik Lundqvist, Tuukka Rask and Pekka Rinne) can maintain a high EV SV% for their teams year after year. For players, shooting percentages typically regress toward career averages: Snipers like Alexander Ovechkin, Corey Perry or Patrick Sharp can maintain a 12% clip or better across many seasons, while checking forwards clock in at a lower rate, and defensive players typically bring up the rear.

After 72 regular-season games, here are Chicago’s top five and bottom five in SPSV (min. 50 GP with CHI):

Player SPSV On-ice SH% On-ice SV%
Toews 102.9 8.4 94.5
Versteeg 102.5 8.2 94.3
Hossa 102.1 8.2 93.9
Richards 101.5 8.6 92.9
Saad 101.2 8.0 93.2
Seabrook 99.4 6.3 93.1
Oduya 98.3 5.6 92.7
Kruger 97.7 4.1 93.6
Sharp 97.6 7.5 90.1
Shaw 96.7 5.2 91.5

The top five intuitively make sense – these are players who are responsible for generating offense and therefore shoot and score a lot. If goaltenders put up average numbers while they’re on the ice, they’re likely to sustain higher SPSV numbers from year to year. Additionally, Toews, Hossa and Saad play a lot of minutes together, so their on-ice percentages are similar, even if their individual percentages are not. Scrolling down the list, it becomes clear that neither SH% nor SV% decrease at any discernible rate, which demonstrates that these percentages are prone to random fluctuations largely beyond the players’ control.

The one player who stands out as having extremely bad luck this season is Patrick Sharp. He’s still producing shots on goal at his usual pace, and his 55.9 SAT% is among the team’s best (min. 50 GP with CHI), but last season’s offensive leader has posted just 38 points in 58 games, his lowest point pace since 2006-07.

While injuries and lineup shuffling haven’t helped Sharp regain his typical consistency, SPSV has been a big culprit: He is suffering from career lows in both personal shooting percentage (6.3) and on-ice shooting percentage (7.5), and his team-worst 90.1 on-ice SV% isn’t helping either.

Getting bounces to go their way may be a matter of randomness to some extent, but offensive-minded players undoubtedly derive confidence from seeing their efforts rewarded on the scoreboard. Sharp has seen his percentages jump over in recent weeks, posting six points (3G, 3A) over his last five games as he’s re-joined the top six. (Another top-six forward, Hossa, needed an offensive explosion in early February for his shooting percentages to regress upward, although he’s still converting on just 9.4% of his shots, a career low.)

Previously introduced: Shot Attempts, Zone Starts

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