Shots Not Taken Are Shots Not BlockedPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
A few stories were written on Monday’s off-day that indicated that perhaps the Caps’ tendencies for blocking shots had waned, or that perhaps the Bruins had adjusted to Washington’s apparent penchant for blocking shots. This line of thought came about because Washington blocked “only” 12 shots in Game 6 after blocking at least 15 (and an average of 21.8 shots per game in the first five games of the series). It’s a surface observation. One of the reasons teams tend to block a lot of shots is because they don’t have the puck. For a lot of the first five games of the series, that is one possible cause for the Caps’ high shot block totals. The NHL doesn’t track zone time or possession time, and that’s understandable. It would be difficult to do. But we can get a rough idea of which team spent more time with the puck during a game simply by looking at the volume of shots taken. Obviously, you’ve got to possess the puck in order to shoot it. Boston took 62 shots to Washington’s 41 in Game 1 of the series. The B’s took 86 shots to the Caps’ 55 in Game 2. Finally in Game 3, the Capitals edged the Bruins in shots attempted, 61-60. It’s not surprising that Boston’s own single-game high for blocked shots came in Game 3, because it’s the game in which Washington had its highest total of shot attempts in the series. In Game 4, the Bruins outpaced the Caps 83-44 in shots attempted. In Game 5, it was the Bruins by 70-48 in attempted shots. In Game 6, the Caps again edged the Bruins in shot attempts, 59-57. Boston has taken a significantly higher number of shots in this series so it only stands to reason that the Bruins would have a higher raw total of their shot attempts blocked than the Capitals. In fact, when it’s all said and done there has been a negligible difference between the percentage of shots blocked by the two teams in this series. Washington has blocked 28.9% of all Boston shots taken while the Bruins have blocked 28.2% of all the Capitals’ attempted shots. I’ll make one further observation here. Players blocking shots are far more likely to get in front of shots coming from the opposition’s defensemen than they are shots from the opposition’s forwards. Generally speaking, there is more time and distance in which to block a shot from the blueline than there is from a forward. The total number of shots attempted from the Boston blueline was lower – by a good bit – in Game 6 than it has been in any other game of the series. In order, here are the combined number of shots attempted by Boston defensemen in the six games in this series, starting with Game 1: 24, 29, 27, 36, 36, 19. In each of the six games, more than half of Washington’s total of blocked shots has come on shots from the Boston blueline. Through the course of the series, the Capitals have blocked 42.1% of all shots from the Bruins blueline. For the first five games of the series, the Bruins averaged more than 30 shot tries per game from the blueline. That number dropped by more than a third in Game 6, and that – along with the fact that Washington had the puck more frequently – is why the Capitals’ total of blocked shots was at its lowest in the series. If they don’t shoot them, you can’t block them.
Game 7 is here. Again. For the fifth time in five playoff seasons, the Capitals are playing a winner-take-all Game 7, and they’re playing against a Boston Bruins team that played in – and won – three Game 7s last spring en route to a Stanley Cup championship. “It’s all about who wants it a little