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Posted at 11:29 AM ET, 11/26/2011

How many goals are scored within five feet of the net?


STATISTICAL ANALYSIS | During the second intermission of the Capitals’ 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Friday, Troy Brouwer spoke about his goal in the second period.

“Coach wanted us to stop in front,” Brouwer said. “We had a stat on the board that said 78 percent of goals scored are within five feet of the net.”

Being a stats geek, my ears perk up whenever a player or coach quotes one, so after the game I asked him about it.

“Bruce [Boudreau] put it on the board.” Brouwer explained. “I think he had another stat that we were at the bottom of the league in rebounds, which I guess is a new stat for the league.”

As far as I know, the NHL doesn’t publically keep track of the percentage of goals at varying distances, and while we can’t be sure exactly what Boudreau said or wrote, it was just a few a simple keystrokes for me get the exact number over the past few years.

I should first point out that shots taken closer to the net have a better chance at going in, so it clearly makes sense to motivate your team to crash the net.


But do 78 percent of goals scored come within five feet of the net? No, not even close.

If we limit ourselves to just a five-by-five foot square of real estate — essentially, the goal crease — then only 0.95 percent of goals have been scored from that distance. This includes all goals scored from the beginning of the 2008-09 season until now. If we widen our distance to within 10 feet, the number bumps up to 19.98 percent. Still high, but a far cry from the 78 percent quoted in the interview.


In fact, to get to 78 percent of all goals scored, you would have to include all of them up to 32 feet, which is roughly through the faceoffs dots to the top of the faceoff circles. Also known as the scoring chance area, which is why generating chances often leads to wins.

Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg.

By Neil Greenberg  |  11:29 AM ET, 11/26/2011

 
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