The number of scoring chances a team generates and allows is usually a pretty good indication for how it's playing in a given game (or for an entire season). It's not something that is really tracked by the NHL as a whole, but it's not uncommon to hear individual teams talking about them.
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma has been talking about -- and been asked about -- the number of chances his team allows, and wants to allow, during a game quite a bit over the past week. Last Thursday he said he considered anything under 10 to be "exceptional" and anything around 12 to be "a good game."
One of the problems that comes up with discussing chances is that there isn't really a set definition for what is, and what isn't, considered to be a scoring chance, and it probably varies from team-to-team.
Prior to Sunday's game between the Penguins and Flyers I asked Bylsma what his team is looking for (shot location, odd-man rushes, etc.) when it counts scoring chances for and against.
"There is more to it than just location," said Bylsma. "Way more. It's not just odd man rushes. We have a certain area [on the ice] we consider to be a scoring chance. There are circumstances that if it's outside that area it could still be a scoring chance, like a wrap-around. Some wrap-arounds are chances, some are not."
He didn't specifically go into much detail as to what that area is, but a pretty common belief across the league is that anything from the top of the circles, between the faceoff dots and in toward the net is a "chance" area.
"We also chart," Bylsma said with a slight pause before continuing. "There are times the opposition misses the net, or we miss the net, and it's still a scoring chance given the quality of the situation. If a guy is on a breakaway and he misses the net, we have still given him a breakaway so it would still be a scoring chance against, even though they didn't hit the net. Same would be true for us. We created the breakaway, we missed the net, it's still a scoring chance. It's not a black-and-white situation. There are some times as a coaching staff, maybe twice a game, we have to get together and decide if there was a scoring chance or not. The reason it is or isn't is not because we all agree, it's because I say it, because I'm the last guy to say it is or not."
So there you have it. From one teams perspective anyway. I imagine other teams across the league that are tracking chances probably vary in their definitions, but there is obviously quite a few variables that go into whether or not a team allowed (or created) a chance.
The inclusion of shots that miss the net in specific situations might seem so suggest that, along with actual shots on goal, the Penguins may also be looking at some sort of concept along the same lines of a Fenwick (shots on goal plus missed shots) or Corsi (all shots directed at the net: on goal, miss the net, blocked) ratings.
Just something to consider the next time you hear scoring chances mentioned during or after a game.
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