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What numbers tell us about NHL

November 23, 2021 07:59 PM

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By now, hockey bettors should be getting a handle on handicapping each NHL team, as we’re more than a month into the season. But it’s important to remember that results are a combination of luck and skill, and sometimes it’s tough to distinguish between the two. Viewing the game through the lens of Evolving Hockey’s expected goals model, along with some other modern hockey statistics, can add important context to what we’re seeing on the scoreboard. By simply comparing the difference between a team’s goals-for percentage and its expected goals-for percentage, we can see whether a team has had luck on its side.

Calgary, Carolina, Washington and Florida have outperformed their expected goals by quite a bit. And of the four, the Flames are the only surprise. Carolina, Washington and Florida are teams you’d expect to see here, but I can guarantee nobody had Calgary scoring 70 percent of the five-on-five goals through its first 20 games. The Flames’ goaltenders are a big reason behind their success, as Jacob Markstrom has been great and Daniel Vladar has been good. Together, they have been saving the team almost a goal above expected for every 60 minutes played, while the offense is only slightly outperforming expectations. In other words, as much as I like the Flames and think they’re a good team, I also think they’re relying far too much on their goaltenders. This team is likely to keep rattling off wins, but pick your spots wisely because the price will continue to climb. I’m finding it hard to find value on the Flames on a day-to-day basis, and I have them rated as a Top 10 team.

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