Rangers among league leaders in average shot distance taken

January 10, 2017, by

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

One of the major concerns for the Rangers this season is that they are not a good puck possession team. It’s been a growing concern over the past few months, as the Rangers were getting pinned in their own end and not getting enough pressure at the other end. It’s why many were concerned that this year’s team was identical to last year’s.

While there are some explanations why the Rangers have had subpar numbers (injuries, leads, etc), they certainly are not excuses. However one major shining light is that the Rangers are getting high quality chances when taking their shots. The Rangers are the league leaders in average distance of shot both at even strength and on the powerplay.

This graph from Sean Tierney took every shot location on the ice, measured in feet from the goal (which is readily available on any game sheet), and consolidated it all to calculate the average shot distance, both at even strength and on the powerplay. Each section is labeled, and it’s neck and neck for the Penguins and the Rangers for the lead in average shot distance.

This means that the Rangers are focused on getting quality chances, moving the puck low and circling in the offensive zone to get to open ice and create prime opportunities. The sacrifice quantity to get quality, which can be a double-edged sword. Offensively though, it’s working for the Rangers. Most of their overall CF/SCF concerns are on the defensive side.

From a purely offensive standpoint, the Rangers are one of the top teams in the league. They may not have the elite skill that the Penguins have, but they have a ton of talent up and down the lineup that poses matchup issues for the opposition.

"Rangers among league leaders in average shot distance taken", 5 out of 5 based on 6 ratings.
Categories : Analysis


  1. Spozo says:

    So you’re saying shot quality is more important than quantity? Aren’t most fancy stats reliant on quantity?

    • Dave says:

      I did not say that. I said it’s a double edged sword.

      “They sacrifice quantity to get quality, which can be a double-edged sword.”

    • Dave says:

      And shot distance isn’t a fancy stat. This is literally just taking the shot distance and making it into something readable.

    • wwpd says:

      I’m no expert but largely the headline stats focus on shot and shot attempt quantity. A more detailed discussion of any team or individual player would include analysis of his hex shot location / success charts, which tell you about shot quality. Also useful for analyzing goalie performance as shot location faced. I think we probably don’t see a lot of that level of analysis unless you really follow the fancystats discussion boards because who has that kind of time 🙂 but yeah, it’s out there if you want to dig in.

      • wwpd says:

        To clarify, the data are available, not aware of a fancystat that really integrates it. Shot location adjusted corsi or what have you.

        • sherrane says:

          Where is the data available? I would like to apply some theories against this data to determine if I could uncover a useful analysis. My main criticism about a lot of the stats is there is no difference between a shot from the point or a shot from the slot.

          • John B says:


            Goalies are now broken into Low danger (LD), Medium Danger (MD) and High Danger (HD) selections. They track LDSA LDGA and then compute that average. For example Lundqvist has a 98.x% LDSV%.

            And most of us aren’t using Corsi and Fenwick anymore. Both are still good and paint a picture. As Dave points out, most are now using Expected Goals For, or xGF and xGF60 or xGA and xGA60. These take into account shot quality and placement.

        • Dave says:

          xGF uses shot type, location, and distance in its equations.

          • wwpd says:

            Like sending up a Mars colony. I don’t fully understand it but vaguely comforted that some people are trying to work it out. Just read up on this on Corsica. Hopefully the models will continue to improve with better event tracking. Thanks Dave.

  2. BenM says:

    Is this graph available for shots against?

  3. joe719 says:

    Steven McDonald has passed away. Condolences to his family and loved ones.

  4. Pas44 says:

    I feel like if the Rangers had defense that hit the net more this stat wouldn’t be as good. I always seem to get upset when the D miss the net of some good chances…

  5. Richter1994 says:

    So the debate could be possession vs. shot quality. And here is where the difference is, you can get away with shot quality over possession in the regular season but not in the playoffs when it really counts.

    It’s not a secret that play tightens up considerably when the playoffs start, so the lanes that are open down low in the regular season close up in the playoffs, making the teams that possess the puck a better bet to succeed overall than “one and done shot” teams like the Rangers.

  6. sherrane says:

    The two teams with the most goals per game are the Rangers (3.43) and the Penguins (3.51), which are the two best on this chart. Columbus is always close on the PP and is leading the league in PP%. However, a team needs players who can finish the play as demonstrated by Toronto (3.05) being #3 on this chart and substantially better than Montreal (3.02) without getting superior results.

    The five worst teams at shot distance is Philadelphia (2.79), Vancouver (2.37), Florida (2.26), LA (2.46), and Boston (2.45). Philadelphia gets higher percentage shots on the PP according to the chart and currently have the #9 PP, which could account for the extra approximately half goal a game.

  7. LeetchtoNash in DC says:

    Very interesting. I have a thought though? How are deflections calculated? Are they considered a “new” shot from where the deflection takes place? I’m not sure how that would affect the interpretation of data or if it would matter. But the reality is a team that is good at deflections might be taking low danger shots, and have designed a scheme/have the personel to elevate the danger of those shots, vs a team that works the puck low for “royal road” shots. Two different mentalities, with possibly similar data.

    • wwpd says:

      Apparently the tracked shot types are: Wrist shot, slap shot, backhand, snap shot, deflection, wrap-around, which are subset by rebound and non-rebound. So 12 shot types are contemplated.

      • John B says:

        Exactly. Shots are further broken down by type.

        In the interest of the two main shot categories:

        Corsi includes EVERYTHING. If any player on team ‘x’ puts the puck on net towards team ‘y’ it counts. Doesn’t matter if its high, wide, blocked, deflected, hits the goalie. If the player intended to put the puck towards the goalie it counts.

        Fenwick is pretty much the same, however blocked shots are removed from the equation.

        Those are the two main “shot” categories most people use. Then shots can be further broken down. It all depends on how deep you want to go.