Two weeks back, I took a look at the need to look at team shot blocking totals in proper context. In that article we discovered that there was an inverse correlation between blocked shots and points in the standings—meaning that teams that posted high blocked shots totals generally were lower down in the standings.
This week, we will look at shots blocked in relation to total shots against. More specifically, we will evaluate whether there is a correlation between total shots against and shots blocked?
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Here are the shots against totals from the lockout up until last season:
SA: Shots Against
2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09
Teams SA Teams SA Teams SA Teams SA
ANA 2431 ANA 2248 ANA 2300 ANA 2499
ATL 2483 ATL 2582 ATL 2782 ATL 2683
BOS 2633 BOS 2748 BOS 2498 BOS 2525
BUF 2502 BUF 2542 BUF 2326 BUF 2575
CAR 2497 CAR 2336 CAR 2368 CAR 2419
CBJ 2762 CBJ 2345 CBJ 2249 CBJ 2281
CGY 2261 CGY 2502 CGY 2335 CGY 2441
CHI 2417 CHI 2408 CHI 2346 CHI 2344
COL 2415 COL 2378 COL 2237 COL 2376
DAL 2099 DAL 2083 DAL 2137 DAL 2304
DET 2180 DET 2020 DET 1930 DET 2274
EDM 2095 EDM 2439 EDM 2573 EDM 2668
FLA 2853 FLA 2402 FLA 2753 FLA 2843
LAK 2459 LAK 2440 LAK 2625 LAK 2301
MIN 2460 MIN 2361 MIN 2469 MIN 2518
MTL 2507 MTL 2685 MTL 2589 MTL 2600
NJD 2403 NJD 2332 NJD 2257 NJD 2415
NSH 2662 NSH 2561 NSH 2440 NSH 2411
NYI 2549 NYI 2672 NYI 2488 NYI 2751
NYR 2358 NYR 2329 NYR 2124 NYR 2433
OTT 2344 OTT 2479 OTT 2456 OTT 2337
PHI 2372 PHI 2673 PHI 2609 PHI 2668
PHX 2480 PHX 2470 PHX 2518 PHX 2591
PIT 2723 PIT 2530 PIT 2523 PIT 2484
SJS 2180 SJS 2149 SJS 1981 SJS 2228
STL 2510 STL 2369 STL 2249 STL 2341
TBL 2260 TBL 2234 TBL 2312 TBL 2701
TOR 2509 TOR 2330 TOR 2403 TOR 2481
VAN 2466 VAN 2398 VAN 2367 VAN 2392
WSH 2880 WSH 2734 WSH 2259 WSH 2418
Those are the totals in alphabetical order since the lockout. Here are the total from lowest shots against to highest shots against.
Team Total Shots Against
These numbers should not be surprising to regular readers, as we have reviewed a number on shots for/shots against statistics when it comes to posting points in the standings.
Now, let’s venture back into the article from two weeks ago and post the shot blocking totals since the lockout.
Teams Blocked Shots
Taken together, what do the above statistics mean? Well, the correlation between shots blocked since the lockout and shots against since the lockout is .464. That is a notable correlation. So, the teams that have blocked more shots during the lockout have a higher propensity of allowing more shots against.
These numbers, of course, are not surprising. If you are allowing a lot of shots against, then you probably do not have the puck as often as you would like. Thus, if you do not have the puck as often as you would like, you are probably on the defensive—and therefore blocking more shots.
If you look closely, only two teams find themselves in the top ten in both shots against and blocked shots for since the lockout. Those two teams are the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues. Generally you would take from these statistics that both of these teams are very solid defensively—both in preventing and blocking shots. The Colorado Avalanche allowed the fifth lowest shots against since the lockout but also blocked the third most total shots since the lockout. The Blues allowed the seventh lowest shots against since the lockout but also blocked the eighth most shots.
Funny enough, the Blues and Avalanche are both in the bottom half of the NHL in terms of points in the standings since the lockout. So why are these teams outliers? As touched on three weeks ago, goaltending can giveth and taketh away. The Blues only had one goaltender on their roster that posted an above .900 save percentage for the first three years after the lockout. Only last season was there really some progress when Chris Mason was brought aboard and you saw the team’s fortunes rise.
What about Colorado? Well the Avalanche did not have a goalie on the roster with a save percentage over .900 in 2005/06. In 2006/07, the Avalanche only had one netminder on the roster with a plus .900 save percentage but it was only .905. In 2007/08, Jose Theodore had a good season, posting a .910 save percentage—and not surprisingly the team advanced in the playoffs to the Conference semi-finals. Last season the Avalanche had no one on the roster with a plus .900 save percentage.
So, we see that if you can excel at both shots against and shots blocked you should be in good shape—if you have solid goaltending.
The Avalanche and Blues are two of the most efficient teams when it comes to blocking shots versus shots allowed.
What about the rest?
Here are the ten most efficient teams when it comes to blocked shots in relation to shots allowed:
Teams Blocked Shots Shots Against Blocked Shots/Shots Against Percentage
COL 4903 9406 0.521263
NYR 4576 9244 0.495024
STL 4605 9469 0.486324
MTL 5047 10381 0.486177
EDM 4667 9775 0.477442
NYI 4993 10460 0.477342
CAR 4587 9620 0.476819
PIT 4866 10260 0.474269
OTT 4501 9616 0.468074
TOR 4512 9723 0.464054
Above you see the top ten teams when it comes to shot blocking totals as a percentage of total shots against. There are many ways to look at these stats, however, the above ten teams are probably some of the top shot blocking teams since the lockout.
As stated many times before, these numbers are certainly not foolproof. Even a team has a high percentage of blocked shots and low shots against may be poor defensively. Look at the Islanders; no one would confuse the Islanders with a Jacques Lemaire coached hockey team. Further, a team like Detroit is fifth worst in terms of percentage (0.38) but are arguably one of the top defensive teams in the NHL. Clearly, factors like time of possession, strong positional play and playing with the lead play into these statistics.
In a vacuum, the ten teams listed show an ability to sacrifice their bodies and block a lot of shots. Overall, however, this ratio clearly does not guarantee much success.
Richard Pollock is Editor for the hockey website Illegal Curve.