Oh Shoot: Taking a Look at Shots and Blocks in Hockey East

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

I’ve wanted to compile some stats on shots, blocks and faceoffs for a while now, because they aren’t stats you typically hear a lot about in college hockey. I finally had some time to look into it today and do a little bit of research. Because I didn’t feel like spending my whole night on this, I limited myself to Hockey East, the league I cover most.

Unfortunately, not every team keeps track of blocks and faceoffs on their team sites. In fact, only three of the 10 Hockey East teams have individual faceoff stats on their team page. I’m sure other teams have those stats somewhere, just not online. I wound up not even bothering with faceoffs because of the lack of available info, but here’s some stuff you’ll hopefully find interesting in regards to shots and blocks.

Shots on goal per game
UML- 34.2
UNH- 32.9
Maine- 31.9
MC- 31.5
BC- 31.4
UMass- 31.0
PC- 30.7
BU- 30.3
UVM- 28.3
NU- 26.3

SOG allowed per game
BC- 26.0
UML- 28.3
Maine- 28.3
PC- 28.6
MC- 29.4
UVM- 30.0
UMass- 30.7
UNH- 32.1
BU- 32.7
NU- 33.8

SOG differential per game
UML: +5.9
BC: +5.4
Maine: +3.6
MC: +2.1
PC: +2.1
UNH: +0.8
UMass: +0.3
UVM: -1.7
BU: -2.4
NU: -7.5

I started by simply looking at how many shots teams get and how many they give up. One of the things that stands out the most here is that BU, who is currently tied for second in the standings, actually has the second worst shot differential in the league. It would be useful to know how many quality scoring chances the Terriers get vs. how many they give up, but that would require going through shot charts from every period of every game, and I just don’t hate myself that much. The Terriers score on 11.5 percent of their shots while their opponents score on just 8 percent of theirs, so that would seem to indicate that BU gets more quality chances than it allows. It also underscores Kieran Millan’s value in net.

The other thing that stands out is Northeastern’s minus-7.5 shot differential. That’s just awful. Taking the fewest shots in the league and giving up the most is never a recipe for success, and that’s certainly part of the reason the Huskies are currently fighting for their playoff lives.

Individual shots on goal (scoring percentage)
1. Stevie Moses (UNH)- 141 (14.2%)
2. Spencer Abbott (Maine)- 120 (13.3%)
3. Brian Flynn (Maine)- 105 (13.3%)
T4. John Henrion (UNH)- 101 (5.0%)
T4. Chris Kreider (BC)- 101 (18.8%)
6. Chris Connolly (BU)- 95 (5.3%)
T7. Paul Carey (BC)- 94 (9.6%)
T7. David Vallorani (UML)- 94 (9.6%)
9. Danny Hobbs (UMass)- 91 (9.9%)
T10. T.J. Syner (UMass)- 89 (12.4%)
T10. Matt Mangene (Maine)- 89 (14.6%)
12. Ryan Flanigan (MC)- 88 (9.1%)
13. Derek Arnold (UML)- 86 (17.4%)
T14. Matt Bergland (PC)- 85 (5.9%)
T14. Joey Diamond (Maine)- 85 (21.2%)

Stevie Moses is averaging nearly a shot per game more than anyone else in the conference, and his scoring percentage indicates that it’s not simply the product of him throwing everything on net. Scoring on 14.2 percent of your shots is pretty good, so you’d have to imagine the message for Moses is to just keep shooting.

Another thing that stands out are the shooting percentages of John Henrion, Chris Connolly and Matt Bergland — they’re all scoring on less than six percent of their shots. That’s obviously a pretty bad percentage, but it’s interesting to note that all three of those guys are pretty good playmakers. Connolly, in particular, is in the top 10 in the league in assists. It makes you wonder how many of his shots are designed to produce a rebound. Or maybe teams are just more willing to back off those three because they know they’re not snipers.

SOG by defensemen (scoring percentage)
1. Tommy Cross (BC)- 84 (3.6%)
2. Adam Clendening (BU)- 73 (2.7%)
3. Michael Marcou (UMass)- 67 (7.5%)
T4. Myles Harvey (PC)- 59 (10.2%)
T4. Karl Stollery (MC)- 59 (10.2%)
6. Brian Dumoulin (BC)- 55 (7.3%)
T7. Conor Allen (UMass)- 53 (13.2%)
T7. Joel Hanley (UMass)- 53 (7.5%)
T9. Kyle Bigos (MC)- 52 (5.8%)
T9. Garrett Noonan (BU)- 52 (17.3%)

Tommy Cross just missed cracking the top 10 overall. Watching him play, you can see why his shot total is so high. He does a great job of moving his feet to create shooting lanes from the point, as does the guy right behind him on this list. Both Cross and Clendening have low scoring percentages, but I’d be willing to bet they’re the top two when it comes to taking shots that produce rebounds. Sometimes that can be just as valuable as having a cannon of a shot or being able to lead a rush.

The other thing that stands out is Garrett Noonan’s 17.3-percent shooting percentage, which is almost unheard of for a defenseman. Noonan is tied for second in the country in goals by defensemen, and a big reason for that is how many shots he takes from in close compared to other blue-liners. BU likes to have him sneak in from the point on the power play, resulting in a lot of chances from below the faceoff dots. Seven of his 11 goals have come on the man advantage.

Team blocks per game
NU- 14.00
BU- 13.41
UML- 12.93
Maine- 10.41
BC- 10.13

These are the only five Hockey East teams that track blocks on their sites. The school that isn’t on here that I’m most interested in is Merrimack. Just from watching the Warriors, I have to think they’d rank pretty highly in blocks. They’re one of those teams that really collapse around their goalie and just get in front of everything, much like the top three we have here.

Shots against/blocks ratio
UML- 2.19
NU- 2.41
BU- 2.44
BC- 2.57
Maine- 2.72

I decided to look into this because obviously teams that give up more shots are going to have more chances to get blocks. This formula helps account for that difference. The River Hawks ended up with the lowest ratio, meaning that if everything else was even, they’d block the most shots on any given night. Basically, they’re the most efficient blockers of the teams we have info for. BU and Northeastern still stack up well against the competition even after accounting for the fact that they have more chances to block shots. Meanwhile, the Black Bears end up as the least efficient shot blockers of these five.

Individual blocks
1. Drew Ellement (NU)- 49
2. Jake Suter (UML)- 44
3. Garrett Noonan (BU)- 36
4. Sean Escobedo (BU)- 35
5. Max Nicastro (BU)- 31
T6. Tommy Cross (BC)- 29
T6. Luke Eibler (NU)- 29
8. Adam Clendening (BU)- 28
9. Drew Daniels (NU)- 27
T10. Patch Alber (BC)- 26
T10. Brian Dumoulin (BC)- 26
T10. Zack Kamrass (UML)- 26

Blocks by forwards
1. Mike McLaughlin (NU)- 22
2. Riley Wetmore (UML)- 19
T3. Bill Arnold (BC)- 15
T3. Matt Mangene (Maine)- 15
5. Michael Budd (UML)- 14
T6. Matt Ferreira (UML)- 13
T6. Sahir Gill (BU)- 13
8. Braden Pimm (NU)- 11

Again, we only have individual shot-blocking stats for the five teams mentioned above. Northeastern’s Drew Ellement takes home the award for most bruises sustained, while Lowell freshman Jake Suter has clearly shown no fear in his first season in the league. It’s also interesting to see Sean Escobedo and Max Nicastro in the top five. Both have been heavily criticized during their BU careers — and rightfully so at times — but blocking shots is a valuable asset, and Escobedo and Nicastro have both done that this year.

For forwards, this helps tell the story of why Mike McLaughlin and Riley Wetmore have Cs on their jerseys. Both are among the best defensive forwards in the league and both are great examples of doing whatever it takes to help the team win.

One Response to “Oh Shoot: Taking a Look at Shots and Blocks in Hockey East”

  1. College Hockey News: Blog » Blog Archive » The Takeaway: Northeastern takes one critical point from a draw with Providence Says:

    […] an issue all season, and if seeing it wasn’t proof enough, Scott McLaughlin took a look at shots in a blog post earlier this week, and it wasn’t pretty for the Huskies. They’re last in Hockey East in shots on goal per game […]