Visualising team scoring in the NHL throughout the 2021 season

The first round of the 2021 NHL playoffs has officially ended with the Montreal Canadiens besting the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games. Of course, the second round is already underway with the three American series already starting while the North Division’s second round will start on Wednesday, June 2. Looking back at the regular season, 2021 provided a unique schedule to close out the year, where the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks finished their seasons against each other when the playoffs had already started.

But never the less, regular season hockey stats are all available, and it’s time to look at the complete NHL Point Share Shells for the 2021 Season.

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 in the 2021 regular season. To provide more context, the visualisation breaks down goals versus assists. 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. Teams are listed by cumulative point totals.

Check out how the Point Share Shells have evolved over the course of the 2021 season:

Visualising team scoring in the NHL so far in the 2021 season

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

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

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Here’s how the NHL Point Share Shells look for 2021. Click on the image to see the full size!

Point share shell observations

Here’s what we can see from the Point Share Shells. We’ll go over observations for every team, a la Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts style. One thought—or rather, observation from the data visualisation—for every team, going in order of highest to lowest point totals.

  1. The Colorado Avalanche are deep. Their top offensive player, Mikko Rantanen, was tied for fifth in the league in the scoring race with 66 points, and Nathan MacKinnon followed right behind with 65. A whopping total of nine different players hit the 30 point threshold, making them the only team in the league to have nine—Vegas and Tampa Bay are the only two close teams in this regard and they each have eight, and their ninth ranked player lags well below the 30-point mark.
  1. The Toronto Maple Leafs had the league’s highest goal scorer in Auston Matthews, but also had a deep team. Their shell fills out nicely with smooth transitions from one player to the next all the way down the team. Outside of their top four scorers with Mitch Marner, Matthews, John Tavares, and William Nylander, the biggest point gap between any two players is just four points, and that occurs once between Jake Muzzin and Alexander Kerfoot. Every other player is separated by three points or less.
  1. Over in Pittsburgh, the Penguins were led by Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, while 28 different skaters laced up for them this season as injuries took over the team. Most notably, Evgeni Malkin was held to 33 games. Twenty different players hit the 10-point mark for Pittsburgh, the only team in the league with such.
  1. What happens in Vegas is simply high-end hockey. Mark Stone led the way with 61 points while Max Pacioretty led with 24 goals. Another team where depth reigned supreme, their shell shows their top players filling out the first quadrant quite nicely, indicating that a good number of players all put up a good number of points, with 33-year-old Alec Martinez ranking eighth on the team with 32.
  1. The highest scoring Washington Capital was Nicklas Backstrom with 53 points. The team was supplemented on offence with fairly good depth instead, with 18 different players hitting the 10-point threshold, and 12 of them hitting at least 20 points on the season.
  1. The Florida Panthers were high-octane all season long, and were briefly first in the NHL standings at one point midseason. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov were far and away the Panthers’ two best offensive producers, but they otherwise had depth down their line up. Notably, the deadline addition of Sam Bennett—the 2014 fourth overall pick from the Calgary Flames—led to 15 regular season points including six goals, but it also led to a boneheaded penalty in a must-win playoff game, one taken in very much in a Bennett-style-boneheaded-penalty.
  1. The perennial top-two scorers in the league have since come out of Edmonton from the conception of the Point Shell Shares. Connor McDavid has consistently broken the data scales, and Leon Draisaitl makes his contributions in highlighting the Oilers’ constant lack of scoring depth. By the time the shell reaches the 3 o’clock position, Edmonton’s shell is significantly smaller than the teams ahead of them as well as in a handful of teams behind them as well. Among all teams’ eighth ranked point scorers, Alex Chiasson‘s 16 points is only better than Detroit’s Valteri Filppula and Sam Gagner, and Anaheim’s Derek Grant and Kevin Shattenkirk, with the four being tied for eighth in scoring on their teams with 15 points apiece. Look at the total points, these two teams are at the league’s absolute basement.
  1. In Carolina, Sebastian Aho led the Hurricanes with 57 points, with a large gap between him and Vincent Trocheck‘s second-ranked 43 points. However, Trocheck starts a cohort of six skaters with over 30 points and at least 10 goals. This includes Dougie Hamilton, Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas, Jordan Staal, and Nino Niederreiter.
  1. The New York Rangers were led by Artemi Panarin, who scored 58 points in 42 games. He missed some games due to injury but also from a two-week leave of absence. The Rangers also saw Mika Zibanejad hit 50 points, while three other players nearly did the same with Ryan Strome, Pavel Buchnevich, and Adam Fox hitting consecutive scoring totals with 49, 48, and 47 points, respectively.
  1. Last year’s Stanley Cup Champions spent the entire regular season without Nikita Kucherov, their leading scoring from 2019-20. Steven Stamkos—second on the team in points last year—played just 38 games, missing a couple of games in February as well as the last month of the regular season due to injury. That’s probably a big reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning were as low as tenth in overall point totals, but they still flaunted their depth through their entire roster, led by Brayden Point‘s 48 points.
  1. The Minnesota Wild were probably not surprised with Kirill Kaprizov‘s rookie performance. The 24-year-old came over from the Russia after playing the past four seasons in the KHL, and he pretty much did exactly what was advertised with his flashy talent. He led the team with 27 goals and 51 points, which tops the 2021 rookie class. Beyond Kaprizov, the Wild had a great display of depth as well, seeing as their shell has one of the nicer transitions down their roster.
  1. In Winnipeg, their offence somewhat dried up towards the end of the season. In the previous three quarters, the Jets were in the top row every time, with a ranking no less than sixth overall in team points. But they dropped down to the second row and finished the season 12th overall. They were led by Mark Scheifele‘s 63 points, while Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Blake Wheeler followed from a slight distance. Pierre-Luc Dubois didn’t quite make the scoresheet as often as expected, as he finished with 20 points in 41 games with the jets.
  1. The St. Louis Blues had a one-two punch at the top with David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly, but there was a large drop off after them. Free agent acquisitions Mike Hoffman and Torey Krug were among the Blues’ group of 30-plus point scorers, and they joined by Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou.
  1. Slowly climbing the rankings throughout the season, the Boston Bruins finished in the top half of the league. Brad Marchand was their frontrunner by a mile, and while Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were expected to round out the Bruin’s top three, a big chunk of credit goes to David Krejci, who amassed 44 points, just four fewer than the duo of Bergeron and Pastrnak. The trade deadline acquisition of Taylor Hall helped the Bruins tremendously down the stretch. but also getting 32 points out of Craig Smith made for a good addition to the team before the season started as well.
  1. The Philadelphia Flyers had a trio leading them with matching point totals in James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek. They each scored 43 points. Their shell formed a nice spread, displaying the spread of talent on the team. There was just a 12-point gap between the top scorers and Kevin Hayes, who ranked seventh on the team with 31 points, where he rounded out the Flyers’s 30-plus point scorers.
  1. Similar to the Oilers, the Chicago Blackhawks had a huge disparity in scoring depth. While Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat did the heavy lifting, the team struggled without their captain Jonathan Toews, who was out for the whole season recovering from an undisclosed illness. Picking up the slack were Dominik Kubalik, Pius Suter, and Brandon Hagelin, as as were the only other Blackhawks to reach at least 20 points.
  1. The Calgary Flames were disastrous on offence for much of the season, with their scoring non-existent game after game. It wasn’t until near the end of the season that they started to click offensively. Johnny Gaudreau led the team with just 49 points, while Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk trailed with 47 and 43 points, respectively. Sean Monahan had a poor showing but the Flames were instead propped by Andrew Mangiapane. Their 37-year-old captain Mark Giordano ended up leading Calgary’s defencemen with 26 points despite a poor start to his season.
  1. The resurgence of Joe Pavelski and the arrival of Jason Robertson could not be highlighted by anything other than their age gap. Pavelski led the team with 51 points as a 36-year-old, while Robertson finds himself in the Calder discussion as a 21-year-old rookie posting 45 points. Sixteen different Stars had at least 10 points, but the team as a whole were lacking in goal scoring power. Tyler Seguin was held to just three games due to injury, and his two goals are pretty much invisible in the Point Share Shell.
  1. The surprise upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round came at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. Tyler Toffoli currently leads the team in the postseason, but he also lead them in the regular season with 44 points, with Jeff Petry and Nick Suzuki not far behind. The Canadiens somewhat mirrored the Stars, also with 16 players hitting at least 10 points, but Montreal’s cohort had lower limits of 13 points, where Joel Edmundson, Jake Evans, and Artturi Lehkonen all ended up, making their shell more filled comparatively.
  1. Five players hit the 30-point mark for the Ottawa Senators, but none of them reached 40. Brady Tkachuk led the team with his 36 points. Tim Stützle was just shy of reaching this mark as well, as he posted 29 points as a 19-year-old. The Senators’ top-six point scorers all range from 19 to 27 years of age. Connor Brown boosts the age average as Thomas Chabot follows him at 24 years old. Essentially, their best players are all very young, and their future is bright.
  1. The Arizona Coyotes were led by Phil Kessel, who scored 43 points. Outside of Kessel, there’s more mirroring happening as much like the Senators, the other five players in their top-six are also fairly young. This includes the likes of Jakob Chychrun, Conor Garland, and Clayton Keller. Only two forwards on the roster were over the age of 30, Kessel and Derick Brassard.
  1. The William M. Jennings Trophy nearly went to the New York Islanders, but they were runner ups with their tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin. The Islanders were actually quite low on offence, but are this year’s playoff team that emphasises defence-first hockey. Mathew Barzal posted 45 points to lead the team. Trade deadline acquisition Kyle Palmieri has struggled with the Islanders, posting just two goals and two assists in 17 games.
  1. Pavel Zacha, the top scorer for the New Jersey Devils scored 35 points, making him fourth-last in the league among team scoring leaders. Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, and Yegor Sharangovich all reached the 30-point mark as well, making for another team led by its young players. When Travis Zajac was also acquired by the Islanders alongside Palmieri, the oldest skater on the Devils became P.K. Subban, clocking in at 31 years old.
  1. The Nashville Predators had the lowest point totals among playoff teams. They weren’t exactly propped by offence nor defence, but their mostly average performance was good enough to get them into the postseason, albeit they were promptly eliminated by the Hurricanes. Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg were the only two players who reached at least 30 points, the former with 33 and the latter with 32. Calle Jarnkrok was third on the team with 28 points to his name.
  1. The San Jose Sharks were the best California team in terms of total points, and in the standings they exactly matched the Los Angeles Kings with 21-28-7 records, though the Kings were ahead of them with four more regulation/overtime wins. Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl led the the Sharks with 49 and 43 points, respectively, while Logan Couture and Timo Meier each had 31 points. Their highest-paid defencemen, in particular Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson where not potent on offence, with the duo amassing 29 and 22 points, respectively. 41-year-old Patrick Marleau posted nine points in 56 games.
  1. The Kings had Anze Kopitar doing Anze Kopitar things, with him reaching exactly 50 points on the season and putting a 16-point gap between himself and Drew Doughty, who was second on the team with 34 points. Dustin Brown was third with 31 points, making their top scorers rather erring on the older side of the NHL age range. However, their prospect system is fairly strong and they’ll have support coming in the future years anyway. In terms of younger players already on the roster, Gabriel Vilardi posted 23 points this season as a 21-year-old, while coveted 18-year-old prospect Quinton Byfield scored one assist in six games with a strong AHL showing as well.
  1. The pandemic notably ravaged the Vancouver Canucks this season, and they were sidelined for a large chunk of the season. However, they were still able to complete their games with a handful of players playing in all 56 contests. Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, and Quinn Hughes formed the team’s top three scorers where they all had at least 40 points, while Bo Horvat came close with 39. Elias Pettersson was held to just 26 games, where he scored 21 points.
  1. The Columbus Blue Jackets are in a state of uncertainty with head coach John Tortorella not returning for next season. His last season with the Blue Jackets wasn’t a great one, as they finished last in the Central division. Offence didn’t come easily for the team either, as Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s team-leading 44 points was followed by Cam Atkinson and Jack Roslovic‘s 34, and that’d be it for players with more than 30 points. Further, only three four other players reached the 20-point threshold.
  1. One of the most perplexing teams this season, the Buffalo Sabres were truly unlucky to start their campaign. Jeff Skinner and Taylor Hall were both greatly underperforming on the team, despite both getting scoring chances. Ultimately, what transpired in Buffalo led to offloading Hall at the trade deadline after he put up 19 points in 37 games, Skinner finishing with just 14 points despite being their $9M dollar player, and Jack Eichel making it fairly clear he’s frustrated with how the Sabres treated him when he was injured. By season’s end, they were led by Sam Reinhart‘s 40 points, followed by Victor Olofsson‘s 32. Not much offence going on for the perpetually reeling Sabres as they finished last in the league in the standings.
  1. No offence to Detroit (or in Detroit, for that matter), but you might have to squint to see their point share shell. Filip Hronek led the team with just 26 points despite being one of two Red Wings to play the full season (Marc Staal the other), a league-low for team scoring leaders. Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Adam Erne were the only other players to hit the 20-point mark, although none of them played the full 56 games.
  1. Lastly, the Anaheim Ducks claim the league’s basement tier for offence this year. Max Comtois scored 33 points, while four others scored at least 20, but the team was struggling in all aspects. They ended up 30th in the league in the standings. Ryan Getzlaf scored 17 points in 48 games, making it one of the worst offensive seasons in his career. Free agent signing Kevin Shattenkirk also plummeted, scoring just 15 points in 55 games, a stark difference from his past few campaigns with the Lightning and Rangers.

The NHL pulled off the 2021 regular season

At the end of the season, all 31 teams ended up playing all 56 games, despite having some teams reeling from major health complications from COVID-19. Truth be told, completely avoiding the coronavirus seemed nearly impossible while vaccines were not yet available for the majority of the season. Yet, the league was ultimately able to complete the season.

Career years were had for some players, most obviously with McDavid hitting the 100-point mark in unbelievable fashion. Some teams, like the Avalanche, were outright dominant in their divisions, while others unexpectedly fell well short of expectations (looking at you, Calgary). There’s only eight teams left in the playoffs, and 24 other teams are now preparing for the offseason happenings, most of all with the Seattle Kraken.

The NHL Point Share Shells are just one of many ways to dig deeper into NHL storylines and data, and they simply use goals and assists to enable many comparisons across many teams. If you have any additional observations, feel free to leave them in the comments!

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