Better With Popcorn

Shot Selection Study 10-6-11: Boston

Prior to the 2011-12 season, there was a lot of discussion about the Philadelphia Flyers centered around the concern that the team would not be able to score goals. With the addition of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and other offseason acquisitions, the Flyers are now viewed in a different light. Last season, the Flyers were expected to blow their opponents away with an offensive assault. This season, the team is expected to beat their opponents with a disciplined defense.

Considering how drastic the changes are expected to be this season, it seems like it would be a good idea to try and accurately analyze what the team is doing. To that end, the shot study is going to display how the Flyers are attacking their opponents as well as how their opponents are attacking them. By gauging where shots are coming from and where they are being located, it can be determined what the Flyers do best as well as what they need to do better throughout the season.

Note: All directions will be from the perspective of the goaltender facing the shooter. ‘X’ marks represent shots; ‘X’ marks with circles represent goals.

Last night the Flyers registered 29 shots on goal. 13 shots came in the first period, 12 in the second and four in the third.

The Flyers first period attack was diverse. Three of their 13 shots were attempted at the point with each coming from a different portion of the ice surface. Four of the Flyers first period shots came from the center of the slot, including Claude Giroux’s power-play goal and Jakub Voracek’s game-winning-goal:


The second period was much like the first in that the team attacked from all portions of the ice. In the first period the team only registered two shots from the left. In the second period, the team registered six shots from the left and continued to attack the middle:


In the third period, the Flyers only attempted four shots on goal. Three of the shots came from Thomas’ right, all of which occurred near the right faceoff circle. The only other shot came from the far side of the left faceoff circle.

In terms of placement, 45% of shots attacked the lower portion of the goal, 41% attacked the middle and only 14% attacked high. An overwhelming 55% of shots were directed to the left side, with 24% going to the right and 21% to the center. Both Giroux and Voracek’s goals were scored on the lower portion of the left side of the net.

The Bruins attempted 23 shots against the Flyers.  The team registered six shots in both the first and second periods with the majority of their shots, 11, coming in the third.

All six of the Bruins first period shots came from the left side of Bryzgalov. The only exception can be made on Brad Marchand’s powerplay goal because he technically attacked the net from the slot. But because he pulled Bryzgalov to the left in order to shoot the puck right it seems fair to categorize that as an attack to the left:


The second period was very much like the first with the first five Boston shots coming from the left side of Bryzgalov. At the 18:41 mark, Zdeno Chara attempted a shot from the point; the first time in the game that Boston registered a shot from the right side of the ice:


The third period was the most diverse period for the Bruins. Six of their 11 shots came from the center portion of the ice (three shots from the point, two shots from the slot and one from their portion of the neutral zone). Three shots were taken from Bryzgalov’s left and two from his right:


The most interesting dynamic of last night’s game, in terms of shot selection of course, is the way the Bruins offense attacked the Flyers. 57% of the Bruins’ shots came from the left portion of the ice surface (17% came from the right). In addition, 48% of their shots were aimed at Bryzgalov’s left side. Both of these numbers were the overwhelming majority. As a comparison, the majority of the Flyers shots came from the right side, which only made up 38% of their shot total. 

It raises the question of whether Boston actively attacked the left side because they thought there was some kind of weakness there to exploit? It could also mean that the Philadelphia defense created such difficult matchups that the left side was the only option available.

Boston was able to execute passes that split the Philadelphia defense and were fairly successful in penetrating the offensive zone. But, the Bruins had a difficult time attacking once the Flyer defensive structure was established. This was displayed by the fact that the Flyers only allowed three Boston shots to be registered in the slot.

In addition, the Bruins attempted eight shots in the first period that missed the net. All eight came within the faceoff circles, half of which were attempted from the right side.  

Looking to the future, the shot study will look to locate these kinds of trends. As the season progresses, the study will look to locate how the Flyers and their opponents compose their offensive and defensive strategies. Last night’s game provided interesting results but it is difficult to come to definitive conclusions because it was only one game.

What can be taken away from last night’s game is that the Flyers played a strong defensive game. For a team that struggled to hold leads last season, Philadelphia held a one-goal lead for 40 consecutive minutes. You don’t need a shot study to realize that's a huge step in the right direction for this young team. Even if the Bruins continue to go to the left.


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John Russo's picture

Fantastic post. Very interesting to assess this so early in the season but it's a great way seeing how well this team succeeded. Spreading out the chances like they did in the 1st was absolutely the reason they got those two goals (granted the first was a break away). Exciting to think this team could exceed expectations this season.

Matthew Brigidi's picture

I agree. Last season I conducted a similar study right before the power play began to dip and it was very apparent that their shots were all coming from one portion of the ice. Although it's early, it sets a baseline for what they do. When things start to go bad we will be able to look through all their games and analyze when and where things started to go wrong. It will also help explain when things are going right