You may have heard there’s an analytics movement in hockey. One of the things advanced stats tries to convey is the idea that shot quality has a smaller effect on actual goal scoring than we’d intuitively assume it does.
If the analytics guys are looking for any more evidence, they should grab the tapes from Calgary’s games last weekend-the Hitmen were scoring from everywhere on their way to a pair of wins by a combined score of 15-1.
Friday night, the Hitmen hosted Prince Albert and jumped out to a 4-0 first period lead, chasing Raiders’ starter Nick McBride just 14 minutes and nine shots into the game. Unsigned New York Rangers prospect Adam Tambellini lead the way for Calgary with two goals and two assists, while nine other Hitmen chipped in multiple points en route to a 10-1 win.
Normally, I start to feel bad for an away team that falls behind by a touchdown or more. Midway thru the third period, just as I was beginning to feel bad for them, PA’s Mackenzie Stewart levelled Connor Rankin with a cross-check to the throat. It was–surprisingly–the only real ugliness in a game that was over before the first radio break, but left me wanting Calgary to score a dozen or more and really run it up. Instead, Calgary kept is classy–barely shooting at all during the five-minute power play and giving their fourth line some work. They did score twice during the power play, but after getting the 10th goal, I think Calgary only had one more shot of goal in the final eight minutes.
The Hitmen were right back to work Saturday afternoon in the first half of a Battle of Alberta doubleheader. And they got right back on the scoresheet. Rankin, showing no ill-effects from the cross-check the night before, got the Hitmen on the board with their first shot of the game, a wrister at Tristan Jarry’s head that he mis-played and swatted into his own net. Jake Virtanen put the Hitmen up 2-0 on their second shot of the game, and it looked like Calgary was off to the races again. The Oil Kings proved stiffer competition than the Raiders, and ended up out-chancing and out-shooting Calgary. The Hitmen continued to have great puck luck, piling on three more goals in the 5-0 win. Mack Shields stood his ground, and occasionally stood on his head, turning away a few great Oil Kings chances, to pick up his second shutout in eight days.
Calgary’s 15 goals on 60 shots was good for an outlandish 25 per cent shooting for the weekend. They weren’t picking corners. They had dribblers, bang-ins at the side of the net, and wristers headed for the glass find their way into the net. It was a lot of fun to watch.
Up next, the Hitmen head to Saskatchewan for a pair, including a rematch with the Raiders. They’re back at home next Wednesday (so no post here next week).