Visualising team scoring in the NHL two months into the 2021 season

Two months into the NHL season, a handful of teams are well past their midway point while another handful are slowly but surely catching up. All things considered, the NHL season has gone as well as anyone could have hoped for. The stories in each division are plentiful, and if not paying attention to every single one, the there’s a lot that could be missed.

The playoff picture is starting to become clearer within each division, with most of them having five to six teams vying for the four spots available. Due to the unique structure of this year’s regular season, the race for seeding will likely continue all the way until season’s end, with first and second place point battles as well as the obvious final playoff spots.

To see how teams have fared offensively so far this year, we can take a look at the NHL Point Share Shells again, now two months into the 2021 season. A lot has happened since the last look at NHL point shares, and many teams have moved around. However, some consistencies remain, particularly for the teams both at the top and bottom of the league.

Let’s see how it all breaks down this time around.

Related: Check out the presentation from the Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Analytics Conference to see the thought process that went behind creating the Point Share Shells.

NHL Point Share Shells

The shells are meant to give an intuitive way to compare scoring depth across all NHL teams at the team level. We’re not interested in the acute details of knowing where players with x number of points compare to other players with y number of points. The shells instead reveal which teams are scoring often and which teams are struggling, and they also provide depth context for each and every team.

For the visualisation, the data includes all games up until the end of March 13, 2021, to mark two months since the first puck drop of 2021. As mentioned, there is still a disparity between teams in terms of games played, but at gap continues to close as more games are played.

To provide more context, the visualisation has been updated to break down goals versus assists. Note that goals are shown in original team colours whereas assists are lightened. For each player, assists stem from the centre point of the shell, and goals are added to round out the outside of the shell. This way, goal scoring can be compared to assists, all while being able to look at cumulative point totals too.

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Without further ado, here’s how the updated shells look. Click on the image to see the full size!

Point share observations

The shells serve to provide the following information: total team points, depth scoring comparisons, league leaders in points, and more. Using what’s visualised, we can make some observations on the teams. Note that the cutoff date was March 13, so the set of games on March 14 are not included.

North Division

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers retain their top two spots for total team points. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl expanded on their league lead in points and Auston Matthews similarly did the same with his lead in goals. By comparing these two teams, it’s seen that Toronto has more scoring depth than Edmonton, as the Oilers’ shell quickly tapers off while the Leafs’ shell maintains a smoother shape.
  • Along with Toronto, both the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators are all tied with 12 players posting at least ten points apiece. However, neither team has top-end scoring right now from their top players, with Jeff Petry leading the Canadiens with 25 points and Thomas Chabot leading the Seantors with 20, hence both teams are lower in the league rankings in total team points.
  • The Jets aren’t far behind in terms of scoring depth with 11 skaters posting double digit points, but their top players are faring much better, with Mark Scheifele leading the team with 36 points, Nicolaj Ehlers follows with 29 points and a team leading 14 goals, and both Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler have 25 points each as well.
  • The Vancouver Canucks have a group of five players leading the charge on scoring, including Brock Boeser‘s team leading 29 points and 14 goals. Behind him includes J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, Bo Horvat, and Elias Pettersson, all of whom have amassed between at least 20 points, with Horvat and Petterson both hitting double digit goals as well.
  • The Calgary Flames have the lowest scoring in the North, with just 203 total team points. However, they have ten players reaching double digit points so far, mostly due to assists. Only Johnny Gaudreau has surpassed the 10 goal mark on the Flames with 11 goals , with Andrew Mangiapane following with eight.

West Division

  • Over in the West, the St. Louis Blues have the most team points so far, yet they sit fourth in the division. Four forwards have at least 20 points, including David Perron‘s team leading 29, as well as Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, and Jordan Kyrou. Free agent signing Mike Hoffman closely follows with 19 points.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights are led by Mark Stone‘s 31 points (9 G, 22 A) and also have two 13 goal scorers in Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch. They are showing off a strong balance so far, as they have seven players with at least 18 points, which is more than any other team’s top seven scorers.
  • The Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild are neck and neck with 205 and 204 total team points, respectively. The Avalanche are well balanced with 10 players with at least 13 points, led by Mikko Rantanen‘s 27 points (13 G, 14 A). No other Avalanche player has reached 10 goals, but Brandon Saad is close with nine. The Wild have two 10 goal players in Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek, and have nine other players with at least 10 points as well. Jordan Greenway leads the team with 13 assists, while Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello follow with 12 assists each.
  • Out of the three California, the Los Angeles Kings are faring the best with 204 team points, led by Anze Kopitar‘s 31 points (7 G, 24 A). Dustin Brown and Adrain Kempel have team leading 13 and 11 goals, respectively. They sit third and fourth in total points, behind Drew Doughty‘s 22 points (6 G, 16 A).
  • The San Jose Sharks may be in trouble on offence, as the contract issues with their leading scorer, Evander Kane continue off the ice. Logan Couture leads the team with 13 goals, while Timo Meier (along with Kane) lead in assists with 12 apiece.
  • Nearly at the very bottom of the league in team points, the Anaheim Ducks have struggled to get offence going. They have zero players with 20 points and zero players with 10 goals. Max Comtois (9 G, 10 A) and Rickard Rakell (6 G, 13 A) lead the team with 19 points each, but the rest of the team have struggled to find the net. Beyond those two players, Jakob Silfverberg and Adam Henrique are tied for second on the Ducks in goals scored with six goals each.
  • The Arizona Coyotes have a clear top six in terms of total points, all of whom are quite evenly spread with goals and assists. The group includes Conor Garland, Clayton Keller, Jakob Chychrun, Christian Dvorak, Phil Kessel, and Nick Schmaltz. Between the six, they range between 7 to 9 goals, and 8 to 14 assists each.

Central Division

  • In the Central, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the best scoring depth, as they are the only non-North Division team to have at 12 skaters hit the double digit point mark. On top of that, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, and Steven Stamkos have all put up at least 25 points, with the latter three skaters also being double digit goal scorers. They’re looking to get Nikita Kucherov back for the playoffs too, so that’s a mightily potent offence they’ll have.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are also putting up a lot of team points. The Hurricanes have a group of five players with at least 20 but not more than 24 points, including Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck, Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, and Dougie Hamilton. The first three mentioned have all reached the ten goal threshold on the season, and are joined by Nino Niederreiter in that regard.
  • In Florida, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov have both passed the 30 point mark, and both have at least 10 goals and 20 assists. They’re joined by Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe as the four players on the team with at least 10 goals and 10 assists, and Aaron Ekblad is not far behind with 9 G and 10 A.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks are led by Patrick Kanes 41 points (11 G, 30 A). He’s followed by Alex DeBrincat who as a team leading 15 goals with 14 assists. Dominik Kubalik rounds out the three Blackhawks that have reached the double-double mark with 10 goals and 12 assists.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets only have two players with at least 20 points in Oliver Bjorkstrand (10 G, 13 A) and Cam Atkinson (11 G, 10 A). They have an additional seven players with at least double digits scoring, but none of them have reached the ten goal mark yet. Jack Roslovic has scored 18 points (5 G, 13 A) with the Blue Jackets since being traded, while Patrik Laine has scored 12 (5 G, 7 A).
  • Lower down in the league in terms of total scoring, the Dallas Stars have 180 total points. Thy are led by Joe Pavelski‘s 24 points (13 G, 11 A). The next highest goal scorer is Roope Hintz with just seven goals. Only two other players have scored at least five goals, which include John Klingberg and Denis Gurianov.
  • The Nashville Predators are also struggling to score. They are led by Filip Forsberg‘s 27 points (10 G, 17 A). No other player has more than 16 points. Calle Jarnkrok is second in goals scored with six goals.
  • Last in the Central, the Detroit Red Wings have just 170 total team points. Their leading point scorer has yet to score a goal, as Filip Hronek has 14 assists. No other player has more than eight assists (Filip Zadina), and no one has more than seven goals, where Anthony Mantha leads the team in that category.

East Division

  • The Washington Capitals have the most potent offence in the East with 241 total team points. They are currently led by Nicklas Backstrom who has 10 goals and 20 assists. John Carlson follows with 6 goals and 18 assists, while Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Vrana both have 10 goals and 10 assists each.
  • Following the Capitals are the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. These two teams actually have fairly similar shell shapes. James van Riemsdyk and Sidney Crosby lead their teams with 28 points and 26 points, respectively. Jake Guentzel and Joel Farabee complement each other with 24 points and 22 points, respectively. These four players have all reached the 10 goal, 10 assist threshold.
  • Currently first in the league in overall standing points, the New York Islanders sit 14th in total team points. Mathew Barzal leads the team with 24 points (9 G, 15 A), and he’s joined by 10 other players who have at least ten points. Anders Lee and Brock Nelson lead the team in goals with 12 and 11 goals, while Nick Leddy has 16 assists to just one goal. Ryan Pulock also has 12 assists to zero goals. Looks like the scoring roles on the Islanders are quite defined.
  • The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are nearly tied for total team points with 188 and 187, respectively. However, the Bruins are in playoff spot while the Rangers are well out of one. Comparing the two shells, the Rangers are seeing balanced scoring, led by Pavel Buchnevich‘s 22 points (8 G, 14 A). Chris Kreider has the most goals on the team with 14 goals to 5 assists. Their top five point scorers flip back and forth between getting more assists versus getting more goals.
  • Over in Boston, their top three scorers include Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak, all of whom have at least 22 points, matching the Rangers’ top scorer. The trio have all passed the 10 goal, 10 assist threshold, as Marchand leads the team with 31 points (12 G, 19 A), while Bergeron follows with 24 points (10 G, 14 A), and Pastrnak, who missed a handful of games due to injury, rounds it out with 22 points (12 G, 10 A). So Boston is a bit more top heavy while the Rangers’ scoring is more spread out.
  • The New Jersey Devils are well out of the playoff race and scoring has not been easy for the team. Pavel Zacha leads the Devils with just 17 points (7 G, 10 A), and Miles Wood leads in goals with eight. Six other Devils have at least 10 points, but the lack of top-end scoring talent means the depth scoring doesn’t hold as much value.
  • Last in the league are the Buffalo Sabres. They have been plagued by the inability to score, despite having players who should be faring better than they have been. They’re led by Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart, both with 19 points apiece. Jack Eichel is third on the team in points but only has two goals. Similarly, Taylor Hall is fourth on the team in points, but also only has two goals. Jeff Skinner should be due for a lot more goals than he currently has based on expected goals, but as bad luck would have it, he is near the bottom of the team with just one goal and one assist.

At the tipping point

As mentioned, the playoff picture is becoming clearer with each passing day and each passing game. With two more months of the regular season left, there’s still plenty of hockey to be played. However, some teams are quickly approaching do or die moments in terms of making a run for the playoffs or succumbing to a reset and focusing on the next season.

Over the next month of hockey, there should be some critical decisions made as the NHL trade deadline falls on April 12, now less than a month away. While trading is at an all-time low, teams vying for a long playoff run will have to make the considerations between biting the bullet and loading up for the playoffs or sticking to who they have on their current rosters.

It’ll be interesting to see how GMs navigate the trade block this time around. All in all, several teams are reaching the junctions of deciding how they want to finish the season. By next month, we’ll see whether any team in the league will undergo any major shakeups, or if the nature of the season forces more teams to stay put and work with what they have.

As for the point share shells, we’ll check back next month and see if the top scoring teams are able to maintain their pace or if the teams struggling to score are able to break free from their scoring woes.

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