With the Avs on an incredible 9-1 streak despite appearing to be outshot by their opponents in most of their games, many advanced statistics zealots are beginning to chirp about how this is unsustainable. Now I'm not exactly sure how pointing to shot totals and yelling "REGRESSION TO THE MEAAAANNNNN" makes you much of an advanced stat connoisseur. I don't profess to know much about advanced stats in hockey myself. I am a humanities major, and have never been very good with math. I am, however, able to copy and paste shot totals from NHL.com as well as anyone else. So here's the number of shots for the Avs and against the Avs, divided by period, so we can take a closer look at how "lucky" the Avs have been.
Game Score 1st 2nd 3rd Total
H Ducks 6-1 14-7 9-15 6-14 29-36
H Preds 3-1 13-10 12-7 11-10 36-27
A Leafs 2-1 10-12 15-7 8-9 33-28
A Bruins 2-0 14-10 6-15 10-14 30-39
A Caps 5-1 12-10 7-19 9-12 28-41
H Stars 3-2 10-6 5-18 11-17 26-41
H Fuckers 2-4 10-12 13-5 17-11 40-28
A Sabres 4-2 14-3 8-11 4-16 26-30
A Pens 1-0 4-11 5-7 5-16 14-34
H Canes 4-2 18-8 8-6 8-16 34-30
- In only one out of ten games this season were the Avs consistently outshot in every period. That was the penalty-filled Giggy masterpiece against the Penguins. In every other game the Avs have at least had one period in which they outshot their opponents.
- That period tended to be the first, where the Avs outshot their opponents 7 out 10 games (and won all seven of those ten games). Starting games on time indeed.
- The three games where they didn't outshoot their opponents: @ TOR, where the the shots were rather even (10-12); vs. det, when they had to kill McLeod's boarding major, 2 mins of which were 5 on 3; and @ PIT, when they had to kill 4 PPs.
- As opposed to their first period dominance, the Avs only outshot their opponents in the 3rd period in two out of 10 games, and only one of them by a significant margin. In fact, the shot numbers in some of these 3rd periods look downright ugly (4-16 vs. the woeful Sabres for example). Of course, the universe loves irony, and the Avs lost the one game that the shot totals suggest they were the much better team in the third period.
- In total, the Avs have outshot their opponents in 12 periods, and have been outshot in 18 periods. Of the 12 periods they've outshot others, 4 of the periods were by 3 shots or less; of the 18 periods they've been outshot, 6 of the periods were by 3 shots or less.
- The Avs outshot their opponents by 10 or more in two periods (1st vs. CAR, 1st @ BUF), and "won" both periods 2-0. They have been outshot by 10 or more in four periods (2nd @ WAS, 2nd vs. DAL, 3rd @ BUF, 3rd @ PIT). They "won" one of those periods (1-0 over Caps), "drew" two of them (1-1 against Stars, 0-0 against Penguins), and "lost" one of them (0-1 against Sabres). They've won all of these games, but we all know that.
What does all of this actually tell us? Probably not that much to those of us that've watched or followed closely every Avs game this season. We've started nearly every game well, but have a tendency to turtle a bit in the third. In only one game did the Avs get dominated every period in terms of shots, while in every game there was at least one period in which the Avs looked like the better side. When the barrage of shots do come, the goalies have been stellar. In those periods where the Avs were badly outshot, they've conceded 1 goal at most.
I only posted this so we can talk about number of shots in a more contextualized manner. It's lazy to point to the shot total for each game and say this team outplayed that team. We've all watched a lot of hockey, and know that the narrative of each hockey game changes constantly, and can happen almost instantly. To me, each period is almost its own mini-game. Teams can come out of an intermission break and look like a completely different outfit. So if we want to make more meaningful conclusions about a team's play, we shouldn't rely on superficial observations like "the Avs were outshot 41 to 35 this game."