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The Noon Number: 90

"Hey, isn't Christian being gone supposed to make our powerplay terrible?"
"Hey, isn't Christian being gone supposed to make our powerplay terrible?"


Of all the goals the Vancouver Canucks scored this season, 90 represents the percentage of them that have come while the team has trailed. This is pretty cool, yet consistent with what happens in hockey, and today I'll point out something called "playing to the score effect".

What happens when one team takes a lead, theoretically, is that they play with more confidence and open up their lead. Across most sports, interestingly, the reverse happens. It could be psychology, it could be balance of strategies, but for whatever reason, a team has a higher chance of scoring when they have just conceded a point rather than when they just gave one up.

Let's breakdown when the Canucks goals for and against have come this season:

Canucks GF
Canucks GA

What I like about this chart so far this season is that there is just so much discrepancy between the goals for and against markers. The Canucks have scored 20% of the goals with the score tied (that is the most troubling aspect of the Canucks early season), 50% when they're down by a goal, and 100% of the goals when they're down by two.

Score-tied markers are probably the best indicators out there of exactly how good a team or a player is. Last year, for instance, the Vancouver Canucks were the second best team in score-tied Corsi rankings, second only to, you would not believe, the Chicago Blackhawks, but only by a slight margin. 54.1% of shot attempts last season were directed at the other team's net, and, often, those totals tend to sync up with goals.

Gabriel Desjardins has shown that score effects "have only a negligible impact on team shooting percentage" so you can't simply say that "well, the effect comes because teams are allowing more shots from the outside." Early on in the season, it's clear that the Canucks are doing way better the further back they drop in a game.

So, when you hear how important it is for the Canucks to get that first goal tonight, what the commentators are really saying is how important it is for the Canucks to get any goal with the score tied. As soon as the Pittsburgh game hits 3-3, the Columbus game 2-2 or the Philadelphia game 4-4, the game has reset itself to zero, and any goal that comes is far more important than "the first" because there's less time on the clock for the trailing team to tie the game up.