The Scourge of the Goalposts

yak flyers

During yesterday’s Vancouver game, I watched Yak City blast a nice shot right off the post.

Which led me to think, I wonder how many goalposts he’s hit?

Which led me to think, I wonder how many goalposts the Oilers have hit?

Which led me to think, I wonder how that would compare to other teams?

So this post, I wander into factoid territory to ask (and answer) the burning question: which team hits the most goalposts?

First Up

The answer is: Dallas! As of last night’s games, Dallas led the league, having clanged it off the iron 41 times.

The Oilers are in 24th with 31 clangers, while Columbus trails with 25.

By Game by Jove

Those of you on your toes are waggling their fingers at me and saying “hang on a sec pal!”

Because you know that not all the teams have played the same number of games, so comparing the numbers straight across ain’t entirely cool.  To really compare them, you gotta equalize the numbers by game.

So let’s do that and see what happens. (drum roll please)

The answer this time is: Washington!

They lead the league at .571 goalposts per game, just a hair ahead of Dallas at .569.

Edmonton, having played more games than anyone else in the league by far, falls to 28th (0.419), while Columbus continues to be in last at a mere 0.357.

Hang On a Sec Pal!

You sez again, keeping me honest!

There’s a suspicious pattern here, which is that the two top teams in goalposts also take a sh*t ton of shots in general, while two of the bottom feeders also happen to be not so good in the shots department.

Maybe it’s just a simple matter of more shots, more goalposts?

Let’s test that. Here’s a chart of unblocked shots per game compared to goalposts per game:


It should be pretty clear from looking at it that there isn’t much of a relationship at all.

If you look down in the bottom left corner, you’ll see a number R^2 = 0.1152 … that’s mathematical proof that there’s basically no relationship.  You can read that to mean “the unblocked shots explain a little shy of 12% of the amount of goalposts”.  That’s not much!

Before we move on, let’s note a few other interesting things:

→ See that dot WAY on the left? That’s NJD. Talk about sucking the life out of the game.

→ And take a look at the three teams WAY over on the right. Are they who we think they are?  Dallas? Yes. Washington? Yes. Toronto!? WTF?!  Toronto. Huh.

Oh well, either way – the shot rate for all those three doesn’t strongly match the goalposts count.

Given that, and given that the overall relationship visually and mathematically is all over the map, the best guess at this point is that (at least at the team level), goalposts are mostly just bad luck.

Factoid City

Let’s summarize our newly created factoid:

  • Dallas leads the league in goalposts.
  • But on a per game basis, Washington leads the league in goalposts – Dallas is second.
  • Yet surprisingly, there appears to be a very weak relationship between goalposts hit and shot rates. It looks like they really are mostly just bad luck.

Factoid high-five!  CLANG!

Data for this mini-study was pulled from my own database, scraped directly from NHL data, thereafter chugging through some nightmarish Python scripts and ending up in Excel. I therefore blame all errors on bad luck.

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