Scoring Chance Differentials


Here at FlamesNation, one of the things we do is count scoring chances for each and every Calgary Flames game. One reason is that they can give you a general sense of how a team’s playing even more than tools like shots, Fenwick or Corsi can. Those stat treat all shots and shot attempts equally, whether they’re a 90 foot lob from the neutral zone or a hard areas chance in the slot.

Scoring chances cut through all that. In theory, they’re a really good way of seeing who’s driving play for the Calgary Flames, and who’s leaking chances like a boat.

Here’s how things look for your hometown heroes through 58 games at even-strength.


The leaders in raw chances aren’t all that shocking. Hudler leads the team in scoring, Backlund has been driving play like a monster this year – he’s the only regular forward in the black. Stempniak is also pretty darn reliable. Shockingly, all three are on Calgary’s top line recently, suggesting that the coaching staff has noticed what we have.

Beyond that, it staggers in a fairly predictable manner. Oddly, T.J. Galiardi, who has a pretty strong Corsi rating this year, falls a bit off, as it seems to indicate that a fair amount of the shots have been on the outside when he’s on the ice. You can also notice that anybody who has played with Westgarth and McGrattan – Blair Jones, Galiardi, Bouma, Street – are near the bottom of the pack, percentage-wise. Shocking.

And once again, evidence that Sven Baertschi’s problem isn’t generating offense, at least in the NHL, with good line-mates and favourable match-ups.

Cammalleri and especially Glencross are hamstrung by missing big chunks of the season due to injury.

Player For Against +/- Pct.
Hudler 199 221 -22 47.4%
Backlund 192 183 +9 51.2%
Stempniak 189 203 -14 48.2%
Monahan 149 171 -22 46.6%
Stajan 149 193 -44 43.6%
Cammalleri 132 163 -31 44.8%
Galiardi 119 130 -11 47.8%
Colborne 119 150 -31 44.2%
D.Jones 119 164 -45 42.1%
Bouma 100 146 -46 40.7%
Baertschi 85 84 +1 50.3%
Byron 68 86 -18 44.2%
Glencross 64 81 -17 44.1%
McGrattan 39 83 -44 32.0%
Street 22 38 -16 36.7%
B.Jones 16 19 -3 45.7%
Westgarth 16 34 -18 32.0%


This is actually pretty shocking, as Smid and Wideman are far-and-away the worst here. I didn’t expect Butler to be as good, although that may be a result of him playing with Kris Russell quite a bit. And to the shock and despair of nobody, T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano are the best here, despite playing against the other teams’ best and brightest.

Player For Against +/- Pct.
Brodie 259 264 -5 49.5%
Butler 212 253 -41 45.6%
Russell 197 210 -13 48.4%
Giordano 163 168 -5 49.2%
Wideman 165 215 -59 42.1%
Smid 110 188 -78 36.9%
O’Brien 90 123 -33 42.3%


The team appears to play slightly better in front of Ramo than they do in front of Berra, but that’s ignoring the possibility that Ramo gets easier games. Both guys have played about the same amount and Berra’s even-strength save percentage is appreciably worse than Ramo’s (.918 vs. .901), which itself can explain some variation.

Player For Against +/- Pct.
Ramo 257 317 -60 44.8%
Berra 251 332 -81 43.1%
MacDonald 90 89 +1 50.3%


Obviously, there are some differences between scoring chances and Corsi. Which players have the biggest adjustments to their numbers?

Five Best: Baertschi [+7.1%], Russell [+2.7%], B.Jones [+2.2%], Backlund [+2.0%], Monahan [+2.0]

Five Worst: Westgarth [-7.5%], Street [-7.3%], McGrattan [-5.6%], Cammalleri [-4.6%], Wideman [-4.0%]

I’m not sure how to interpret these numbers. Intuition suggests that the players with better scoring chance numbers would play when the team takes fewer perimeter shot attempts (and drive towards the net more), while units with lower scoring chance numbers stay to the outside? The lower-line players dominate the “worst” list, but Cammalleri is also there, which is odd. Similarly, Blair Jones never gets upper-line time, but he’s got a good differential.

Weird, huh?


The team average for scoring chance percentage is 44.8%. It’s also important to note that these are raw numbers, which aren’t corrected for the impact quality of opposing line-mates and quality of opposition. At the end of the season, we’ll have full-year numbers and some corrections here and there for these weird quirky factors.

In general? The scoring chance numbers point out that the players who’ve driven the bus for Calgary this season have really driven the bus, but the fact that two players total have more chances for than chances against tells you everything you need to know about 2013-14 Flames.

  • Christian Roatis

    Good write up Ryan.
    What is your exact definition of a scoring chance and scoring area? I imagine everyone’s is pretty similar but just want to check. My complaint about Backlund up until about the last 30 games was that he wasn’t going to the greasy areas. He seems to really be turning a corner in that regard and your stats show that to be true. I think his offensive ceiling is higher than the 40-50 point mark especially if he gets to play with stronger linemates in the future. I was worried that Cammy would be low and it looks like that is true. A scorer needs to get to those areas and as players age they sometimes tend to fade out a bit more to avoid the physicality.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Would I be reading anything into Ortio and Kipper both being from the same town, Turku,Finland? Absolutely awesome that he is getting the start against LA tomorrow, and hoping that Granlund can transfer his scoring touch to the bigs.

    • beloch

      It was Kipper that recommended to Flames management that they draft Ortio. There is a relationship between the 2 guys. I think this kid is going to be outstanding. He really impressed me at the Penticton tournament.

  • beloch

    “The team appears to play slightly better in front of Ramo than they do in front of Berra, but that’s ignoring the possibility that Ramo gets easier games. ”

    Alternative theories might include that Berra has poor rebound control. Were this true, we’d expect to see scoring chances against Berra “clumping” together in time more than they do against Ramo. e.g. For Berra you might more frequently see a first chance followed immediately by a second scoring chance generated by a rebound into the scoring chance area, while more of Ramo’s rebounds might be directed to safer areas of the ice.

    Is there any chance you guys might compile the data-set for all scoring chances (with associated times, players, etc.) into one file? That’d be sweet.

  • beloch

    Off topic but loved Burke’s answer about who is untouchable on the team. He said that everyone is open to conversation. He said that if a team offered him ten first rounders he’d better be prepared to listen. I have long thought that this should be the approach of a rebuilding club and I love hearing our gm taking this approach. While I think we’ll be active it sometimes feels like the deadlines that are expected to be the quietest end up being the busiest and the ones that we think will be busy are dead. Not sure if it is deserved or not but I feel more confident with Burke at the helm than feaster. I liked feaster but he just didn’t instil confidence.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Stajan’s %age indicates that he is worse than Gratts and Westgarth and their usual linemates (Bouma, Street, and the Joneses). Maybe that is true but I feel like it really isn’t, and by quite a lot.

    I’d really like to see these numbers adjusted for QualComp and QualMates(?).

    This is not to suggest that I’m not happy with all the work FN contributors do, of course! Luv U! I just think this data is missing some significant situational corrections.

    • SmellOfVictory

      It doesn’t indicate that, actually. Most of the team’s 4th liners have percentages at ~30-35% (that’s horrible), whereas Stajan is a not-great-but-better-than-that 43%. Ideally you want to have a percentage above 50 (50% meaning you get an equal number of scoring chances for as you do against).

    • beloch

      What is it with Finnish goalies, heavy metal, and skulls? Ortio certainly isn’t fighting the stereotypes! Still, that design is from 3 years ago. I wonder if Ortio has a new mask to unveil… Is it bad luck to unveil a new mask the same night as your first NHL start?

      I’m pretty stoked to see Ortio finally get a crack at the NHL. He’s been great in Abby. Still, L.A. is a rough introduction to the league. Jet-lagged or not, I’d rather Berra was thrown to the wolves tomorrow so Ortio can start against the Oilers.

  • RedMan

    I think it’s not to much to hope that Ortio pulls a Kipper, i.e surprising everyone and in one season turning our team of misfits into a cup contender and setting the all time record for save%.

    in my opinion, this is expected of Finish goaltenders.

  • I’ll add some context here…

    Scoring chances tend to converge with corsi over time (they usually move in the direction of possession). You can see that in the lead pic for the stats crash course I began:

    We can’t correct scoring chances for circumstances quite yet, but you can apply the same sort of rules of thumb: for instance, Stajan’s circumstances are brutal this year and his possession rate is better than his chance rate. So it’s probable the chance differential is underselling his actual contributions/skill level a tad.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Like many I am excited to see both Ortio and Granlund; however my expectations are tempered for both of them. First game back the whole team may play poorly in front of Ortio. Granlund starts the game with Westgarth on his wing not an offensive giant,(However Granlund has helped WW’s favorite have a trurn around season)Hopefully both will get more than a one game look.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I hope Finnisher pots a goal before he’s sent back to the A. I find it interesting that he’s (apparently) starting at center in his first game. That isn’t common for 20yo first timers, is it? Especially since his expected LW is Byron.

    Also, YAY ORTIO!!