A common advanced statistic currently utilized in the hockey analytics community is the “expected goals” stat. The stat is beneficial to assess a players ability to generate scoring chances and compares the rate to historical averages for specific shot type and locations.
The expected goals stat includes the shot location, and uses league-wide averages (historical shot data) to determine the likelihood of that shot being a goal based on the historical data for that exact location. In other words, the stat gives a sense of a player’s shot quality by looking at the odds of scoring a goal from that location.
One use of the expected goals (xGF) stat compares its value to actual goals scored as a means of assessing a players ability to “finish” or convert on scoring chances. In other words, are the goals scored above or below historical averages. [This is simply goals scored minus expected goals, or GF – xGF, and is also known as goals differential.]
Here are the Capitals goals differentials (GF – xGF) at even strength from last season: [Click to enlarge]
To no surprise Alex Ovechkin led the team last season in goals differential. Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Anthony Mantha also far-outpaced their expected goals for the season.
As we’ve previously discussed in a number of posts, Connor McMichael’s goals differential was the worst on the team, and is an area he must improve upon. He’s generating scoring chances, he just needs to convert.
The goals differential stat is a good stat to monitor throughout the season, and will be a very good stat to monitor for Connor McMichael this season.
By Jon Sorensen