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By The Numbers: Penn State Hockey’s Advanced Stats

As we’ve shown you multiple times before, sometimes the best way to analyze a team is by taking a step back and looking at the numbers. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most telling stats in hockey: shots, and quality thereof, in addition to team shooting and save percentages.

With eight games left to play in the regular season, it’s worth taking a look into how Penn State stacks up to other national powerhouses. Though it looks less and less likely everyday that the Lions will convince the polls they deserve an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament based on wins and losses, does its in-game performance stack up to some top seeds?

Thanks to College Hockey News and College Hockey Stats, we can take a look at some of college hockey’s advanced statistics.

As College Hockey News states on its website: “This is not ‘Corsi/Fenwick, per se,’ which measures events for whenever that player is on the ice. These are only the shot attempts generated by that player.”

Corsi and Fenwick aren’t recorded for college hockey unfortunately, but this is the next best thing. The measured categories are shots that are blocked, wide, hit the post, saved, scored, and total attempts, and those numbers are spread across even strength play, powerplay, and close (defined as a game that is within two goals — up one, down one, or tied — in the first or second period, or tied in the third, at even strength). The other metric we’ll look at is PDO: shooting percentage plus save percentage, also divided into the categories above. So, let’s get to it.

Penn State’s Individuals

This should be a surprise to no one, but Casey Bailey leads the team in almost every category. He’s been near the top of the national shot charts all season (note that the common definition of a “shot” is one that either is saved or scored, not blocked, wide, or hitting the post). His 325 total shot attempts eclipse second-place Curtis Loik’s 159.

The two metrics that Bailey doesn’t lead are very interesting for different reasons. Taylor Holstrom has hit the post five times, while four players are tied with two hits. Three of Holstrom’s post shots have come when the game is close. He also has a total of zero game-winning goals on the season. Those numbers make it seem like he is susceptible to pressure plays, which is surprising for the Hobey Baker nominee. His contributions often come in the form of assists, evidenced by his team-leading 23. In the team’s three biggest comebacks this season (the first Ohio State game and both Northern Michigan games), Holstrom totaled no goals and one assist. Still, he was on the ice with Bailey and David Goodwin, and his play (evidently away from the puck) can’t be measured.

The other statistic that Bailey doesn’t lead the team in is goals in close situations. He is third on the team with five close goals, despite leading it with 20 total. Eric Scheid and David Goodwin both have 13 total goals, but respectively have seven and six close goals. We’ve noted Scheid’s clutch factor before, but now there’s quantifiable evidence with more than half of his goals coming in key scenarios.

Penn State vs. No. 15 Minnesota/No. 1 North Dakota

Unfortunately, as stated before, without access to Corsi/Fenwick it’s hard to grasp the full impact of shots, since total shot attempts against isn’t measured. Logic would dictate, however, that if one team is shooting, the other isn’t, so total shots for is still a useful measure. Let’s take a look at how Penn State stacks up against the top team in the Big Ten, Minnesota, and the top seed in the country, North Dakota.

Penn State has 2,266 total shot attempts on the year, Minnesota has 1,878, and North Dakota has 1,860. Nittany Lion coach Guy Gadowsky’s philosophy is essentially “if you’re not shooting, you’re wrong,” but the approximate 18 percent increase in shots over those two top teams is too significant to be meaningless. Also, the teams’ shots on goal are 1,222 (PSU), 1,020 (UM), and 1,013 (UND), so it isn’t like Penn State’s shots are insignificant.

The trouble for Penn State comes from the total amount of goals scored and shooting percentage. The teams have scored 101, 114, and 106 goals on the year – having shooting percentages of 8.3, 11.2, and 10.5.

Another statistic that highlights a reason for the gap between Penn State and top-tier teams is PDO, the stat that combines shooting and save percentages that was created to essentially measure luck. The average PDO is 1.000, and teams above or below that mark are lucky or unlucky, respectively.

The three teams’ PDOs, in order, are .996, 1.027, and 1.031. Also, in close situations, Penn State and Minnesota tend to have worse luck than their averages. North Dakota has an even better PDO in those scenarios, and it only makes sense that it is the top-ranked team in the country.

Casey Bailey vs. the World

Just to put Bailey’s historic season in perspective, let’s pit him next to two other premier college hockey players: Hobey Baker vote leader Zach Hyman from Michigan (by the way, vote for Bailey here), and Jack Eichel from Boston, who leads the nation in points and is expected to be a top-two NHL Draft pick.

Hyman’s 25 assists and Eichel’s 33 eclipse Bailey’s 15, but that’s the last nice thing we’ll have to say about them in this section. Bailey’s 20 goals beat the other players, who both have 16. His 325 total shot attempts are quite a bit more than Hyman’s 177 and Eichel’s 230. Bailey has 178 shots on goal, again miles ahead of the other two’s 94 and 111. Bailey has hit the post twice, less often than the other two players’ three and five.

Long story short, Bailey’s seemingly inevitable move to the NHL should prove successful. He’s been able to score at every level he’s played at, and proved this year that he can find the net much more often than two of the sport’s most notable names.

Other Notable Stats

  • David Goodwin, tied for second in the team’s goal-scoring race with 13, has no powerplay goals.
  • All three of Max Gardiner’s goals have come on the powerplay.
  • 12 of the team’s 22 shots off of the post have come when the game is close.
  • Penn State has won 1,038 faceoffs and lost 1,034.
  • The team’s overall save percentage is .913, but is .924 in close situations.
  • Captain Patrick Koudys is fifth on the team in total shot attempts, but has no goals.
  • Penn State’s eight defensemen have combined for seven of the team’s 101 goals, so its 16 forwards have scored 94 goals.
  • Penn State has shot the puck wide at even strength 409 times.

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About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.

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