I’m going to make what may seem like a bold statement: “point shots suck.”
When I first posted this on my newsletter, I got a ton of responses from all across the spectrum. Some people thought I was crazy, others agreed, and everything in between. Even my mentor disagreed at first before coming around. I want to echo that newsletter post and expand on it further as point shots are terrible on many fronts. Stick with me here.
Low Shooting Percentage
The first reason why point shots suck is that they don’t result in goals very often. From 2007-2017 Micah Blake McCurdy found that the shooting percentage from outside the house has been under 5%. His website HockeyViz has great content beyond just this. He is a former math professor who decided to work on hockey analytics in the public sphere (he has turned down multiple NHL teams).
Combining that with other data such as Clear Sight Analytics has come to show that point shots with traffic score around 3% of the time and without traffic score about 1% of the time. That is basically “playing catch” with the goalie.
It’s clear that point shots aren’t great options for scoring goals. However, some argue that they create rebounds for forwards to whack home for a goal, tips, screens, etc.
One of the largest errors in judgment is thinking that point shots create rebounds. Often, they don’t.
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“As a reminder, these are NHL players shooting these shots. Youth hockey would have worse odds of creating offence from point shots.”
This is the only statement in this article that I would debate. Creating offence is not just dependent on the skill of the shooter. It is an equation involving the shooter, the defensive ability of the opponent and the ability of the goaltender. In youth hockey even though the shooters have less skill the gap between offence and defense is much wider than in pro hockey, which is why non transferable habits (such as mindlessly blasting the puck from the point) are formed.
I think this is very insightful analytics, however I think the one component that is missing is something that reflects that difficulty in generating point shots vs the difficultly in generating slot shots. I’d imagine that is something that is not simple to do however.
My thinking is that while the expected goals for a slot shot is much higher than a point shot, the difficulty to get that shot is also much higher. So I would think that once you account for the level of difficulty to get the shot off in the first place, the rate of expected goals of attempted slot vs attempted point shots might start to converge and show that point shots still provide value.
Solid article. I would like to see a second piece to it. When the puck ends up at the point, what does drive goal scoring? Is it taking it a few steps in to increase shooting odds and rebounds? Is it have a guy who is in front, drop down below the goal line where they could get a wrap or direct pass from the d and then in turn they get the puck in front? Which options are the best. You told us what the worst thing to do is. In a way, you also told us the best thing is to get the puck to the net with a shot that is in close. What’s the best way to get it there, if it isn’t a shot?