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Something a lot of analysts tend to mull over these days is shots on goal.  Last week, we looked at shots for, this week shots against.  The main question here is are shots allowed that important?  Everyone knows this is the case for New Jersey, but does that mean that this is the case for the other 29 teams in the NHL?  The chart below will explain:

Team Shots allowed Record Rank
Calgary 614 14-9-1-3 6th West
New Jersey 624 15-5-7-0 4th East
St. Louis 669 17-6-2-1 4th West
Ottawa 690 13-9-3-3 6th West
New York I. 693 11-13-2-1 12th East
Dallas 705 12-15-3-0 11th West
Los Angeles 705 15-10-1-3 3rd West
Philadelphia 722 17-3-8-1 1st East (1st league)
Tampa Bay 727 13-8-4-1 7th East
Vancouver 747 15-7-5-2 5th West
Carolina 763 8-12-8-1 13th East
Detroit 775 17-10-3-1 1st West
Nashville 780 14-12-1-0 8th West
Colorado 790 16-7-4-1 2nd West
Toronto 797 16-6-5-3 2nd East
Buffalo 815 12-15-2-1 10th East
Edmonton 820 11-13-5-0 12th West
Boston 821 12-6-7-4 5th East
Minnesota 844 10-14-5-0 13th West
Washington 845 9-18-1-1 14th East
New York R. 870 11-11-5-2 9th East
Columbus 871 8-14-4-2 14th West
Montreal 873 13-13-3-1 8th East
San Jose 873 9-8-10-2 7th West
Anaheim 890 10-10-4-5 10th West
Atlanta 907 16-11-3-1 3rd East
Chicago 910 7-15-5-3 15th West
Phoenix 933 10-10-8-1 9th West
Pittsburgh 984 6-16-4-2 15th East (30th league)
Florida 1001 10-14-5-1 11th East

As of games played through Friday, December 12, 2003.  Teams ranked 1-3 per conference are division leaders.

So, are shots allowed as big of a deal as some say?  One could argue yes, seeing that the 4 teams with the most shots allowed are not currently in a playoff spot, while the 4 teams with the fewest shots allowed are currently in a playoff position. 

Let’s look at the team with the fewest shots allowed, Calgary.  Now honestly, who would have thought Calgary would be leading in this category?  Anybody?  Didn’t think so…  The Flames’ success can be directly attributed to this new defensive concept, hence why they’re sitting in a playoff spot through 2 months of the season.  Considering Roman Turek’s out for them at the moment, it’s an even more astounding feat.  As for the bottom teams, Florida and Pittsburgh, it’s quite simple, neither team has a quality defensive corps, which leads to a large number of shots allowed.  Considering Florida has one of the arguably top-10 goalies in the NHL in Roberto Luongo, it’s relatively safe to say here that the quantity of shots allowed can get to you over the long haul. 

As saddening as it is to say here, it seems as if the fewer shots on goal a team allows, the greater chance of winning, quantity can indeed outweigh quality.  This means that the team(s) with the best defensive systems have a better chance of winning games and getting to the postseason, which is what many argue is the exact thing wrong with the NHL today.  Of course, we’re just past the quarter mark in the season, so things can be changed, who knows, maybe offensive systems will dominate before season’s end?  (Nah, probably just wishful thinking here…)

Questions/comments?  E-mail me at [email protected].

Statistics courtesy of the National Hockey League.