Visualising team scoring across the NHL at the time of the COVID-19 pause

It’s been ten days since there was an NHL hockey game. It’s felt way longer, hasn’t it? There’s undoubtedly been much more time to look back at what’s ensued so far in the 2019-20 NHL season as we are all making do without sports. Let’s keep up the social distancing and explore some stories of the NHL while we all stay indoors.

We can revisit the NHL Point Share Shells, a data visualisation that allows the immediate comparison of scoring depth between teams. By plotting the point totals of every player on a team, we can understand the composition of a team’s offence and how their lineup is built.

NHL scoring has changed quite a bit since midpoint of the season, so here’s the breakdown of how the 31 teams have gotten their scoring up until the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Check out the presentation at the Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Analytics Conference on the NHL Point Share Shell creation process!

NHL Point Share Shells

The point share shells are below, which includes all data up to March 11, 2020. Click the image to see the full size.

All cylinders firing

Many teams have been lighting up the scoreboard nightly with many players amassing many points along the way. Ten teams have collected at least 600 total points between all of their players, with four more teams pretty close to the 600 total point mark too.

Some of these teams have standout players like the Tampa Bay Lighting with Nikita Kucherov and the Colorado Avalanche with Nathan MacKinnon. Others have dynamic duos the Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand and the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.

Scoring by committee goes a long way too, like it has for the Philadelphia Flyers. Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek, and Claude Giroux all posted at least 50 points, with an additional 15 players with double digit scoring.

Big season swings

At the start of the season, some teams had more question marks than points, wondering what happened to their scoring. Others started off strong but have tumbled in the final stretch.

The Calgary Flames have gotten way more scoring as of late. Led by Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm, it actually has been the resurgence Gaudreau and Mikael Backlund and the arrival of Andrew Mangiapane that’s elevated the Flames back to being a high-scoring team.

On the flip side of that, a team that saw its offence slow down were the Nashville Predators. Roman Josi leads the team with a sizable gap; however, Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Johansen haven’t been as potent as they usually are and that’s been a large reason the Predators have seen their offence dry up.

No offence, but…

A really peculiar team this year has been the Dallas Stars. Their scoring is missing but their goaltenders Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin don’t care. Their goalies deserve all the credit keeping them in a playoff spot, as they haven’t had a single skater step up and bring the offence at all. This style of hockey is not sustainable for long-term success.

At least the Columbus Blue Jackets have an excuse, with the most man games lost in the league this year. Ravaged by injuries, their offence has been hurting. Their top two scorers, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gustav Nyquist, alongside Boone Jenner who’s eight on the team are the only Blue Jackets that have played every game this season. They’ll be a much better team when all healthy.

Of course, these were just a few stories for a few teams. Were there any other teams that stood out in the Point Share Shells? Leave a comment below or @wincolumnblog!

All data courtesy of Hockey Reference. Charts made with R using “ggplot2“. Original code modified from R Graph Gallery.

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