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31 in 31

Chicago Blackhawks key statistics

Hits should keep coming, underlying numbers suggest Crawford among top goalies

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Chicago Blackhawks.

 

[BLACKHAWKS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Top prospects]

 

1. Struggles in the faceoff circle

The Chicago Blackhawks ranked 29th in the NHL with a faceoff winning percentage of 47.5 percent last season. 

Rather than evaluate a team's or player's success on the draw based on a subjective opinion of which team touched the puck first, many hockey statisticians consider how many shot attempts were generated or allowed within 10 seconds of each one.

That is the basis of the net shots post faceoff (NSPF) statistic developed by Craig Tabita of Puck Base. NSPF is a team's shot attempt differential within 10 seconds of a player's faceoffs at 5-on-5, minus how a League-average player would have performed after the same number of offensive, defensive, and neutral zone draws.

Center Artem Anisimov's NSPF of minus-40.04 shot attempts ranked second-last in the NHL, ahead of Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets (minus-40.95). Even Jonathan Toews, who had a faceoff percentage of 54.9 percent in traditional terms, ranked sixth-worst from this perspective, with a NSPF of minus-33.11 shot attempts.

Video: 31 in 31: Chicago Blackhawks 2017-18 season preview

 

2. Getting physical

After finishing with the fewest hits for the third time in the past four seasons, the Blackhawks added two of the League's best among available free agent forwards in Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma.

Because a player's hit totals can be affected by such factors as ice time, manpower situation and the different rates hits are determined from one team's set of scorekeepers to another, the best way to evaluate players is with the adjusted even-strength hits statistic (AESH). Introduced by Iain Fyffe in the book, Stat Shot: The Ultimate Guide to Hockey Analytics, AESH is an estimate of how many hits a player would throw at even-strength for a typical NHL team.

Gathering hitts data from the past three seasons and applying Fyffe's formula, Bouma ranks 19th in the NHL with an AESH of 13.75 hits per 60 minutes, and Wingels ranks 37th (11.55).

 

3. Corey Crawford stacks up

Is Crawford one of the League's elite goalies? He didn't receive a vote for the Vezina Trophy last season, has never placed higher than fifth in Vezina voting and his career save percentage of .918 ranks tied for 15th among the 65 active goalies who have played at least 50 games. However, his underlying numbers suggest he may be one of the League's top four goalies. 

Over the past three seasons, Hockey Reference ranks Crawford ranks fourth (39.4) in goals saved above average (GSAA) tied for fourth (34.8) with Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins in goalie point shares (GPS), and third in quality start percentage (62.9) among goalies who have played at least 50 games.

GSAA is calculated by multiplying a goalie's shots faced by the League-average save percentage, and subtracting that from a goalie's actual number of saves. Quality starts are awarded in any game when the starting goalie's save percentage was above the League average, and GPS is Hockey Reference's proprietary, all-in-one metric.

Video: CHI@NSH, Gm4: Crawford pads away Arvidsson in front

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