The 2016-17 BU PP: Individual shot locations

Previous posts:

Intro and general shot locations

Now we’re going to start getting into some more specifics. I’m not gonna go too, too deep on this post because I think the visuals will largely speak for themselves, so this is mostly just an extension of the previous entry.

Here, we’ll look at individual shot attempts and, in a later post, the results of those shot attempts. To start, here’s a more detailed view of the preliminary diagrams from the introduction. I’m not in love with the color scheme right now, and I wasn’t sure if it’s easy enough to distinguish player by color alone, so I made the markers different shapes as well in case that gives people a better view of what’s going on. These are also static visuals right now, and I might be playing around with Tableau for them in the future so it’s easier for people to actually interact with.


In the first power play unit, you can see that, for the most part, each player has a certain area they’re supposed to navigate around. Jordan Greenway and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson have more set positions on top of the crease and in the slot, respectively. Patrick Harper, Charlie McAvoy, and Clayton Keller though are more at liberty to slide around and fill each other’s positions when one or the other shifts to a different part of the ice. Keller basically went wherever he wanted and McAvoy, while usually remaining on the left side of the ice, did venture more toward the right if it was vacant. And even though Harper—usually stationed in the right circle—has rifled his share of shot attempts from both circles, he typically will remain just about level with the faceoff dots there. Individual charts are provided beneath the first diagram and can be enlarged by clicking through.

PP1 shot attempts


Like I said in the previous post, you probably could have guessed every single shot that second power play unit took, and with very few exceptions that is true looking at this more specific visualization. Patrick Curry just never left the very front of the net, while Chad Krys and Dante Fabbro constantly toed the blue line with little incentive to venture very far. It’s interesting to me, though, and it will become clearer when I post the passing diagrams, that most of Krys’ passes came from farther to the left, but he actually moved toward the center point for his three shot attempts (the fewest of any player, as you can see). And then Bobo Carpenter and Kieffer Bellows pretty much just stuck to their circles for wristers and one timers.

I probably should have mentioned this before since it also applies to PP1, but all four half wall/boards/whatever guys (McAvoy, Harper, Carpenter, Bellows) play on their off sides. For those who don’t know what that means or are unsure, it means you play on the opposite side of the ice from what your handedness is. Basically, McAvoy and Carpenter shoot righty, so they play on the left side of the ice, while Harper and Bellows shoot lefty, so they play on the right side of the ice. It’s a way to involve the one timer in the power play easily.

Same as before for individual charts: click through on the thumbnails and you should be able to see bigger versions of each.

PP2 shot attempts

McAvoy and Keller in the NHL 2017-18

I wanted to take the time to see whether McAvoy and Keller were used in similar power play roles their rookie seasons with the Boston Bruins and Arizona Coyotes, respectively, or whether it differed at all. I used Harry Shomer’s Hockey-Scraper for Python and scraped data from the 2017-18 season and then narrowed it down to just power play events for McAvoy and Keller. Below, you will be able to see side by side diagrams of their NHL PP shot attempts versus their BU ones.


Something I noticed this season for the B’s was that, while BU used McAvoy on his off side for one timers, the Bruins used him more on his strong side. During the playoffs, they even had him with his former BU defense partner Matt Grzelcyk, which obviously made me incandescently happy.

Throughout the season, the Bruins had McAvoy sometimes as the quarterback in a 1-3-1 power play and others as the right point man in a split power play, which is why his NHL shot attempts veer in that center/right direction. I’m not sure that he was ever consciously or consistently used on his off side the way he was in college.


Keller, on the other hand, doesn’t visibly have too much of a difference in pattern (which is partially because my sample size is limited) besides the fact that he spent way more time in the slot in the NHL than he did for the Terriers. From this, though, before even looking at video, we can see that Keller was given the opportunity to move much closer to the net than at BU where he really manned the center point distributing the puck.

This season in the NHL, he played all over the ice on the power play. The Coyotes’ man advantage seemed fluid in terms of who plays where, with guys filling in whenever someone stepped to a different part of the ice. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I watched every Arizona power play from this season, but I’ve watched a fair number and I’ve already seen a 1-3-1, a split, and an overload for Keller on separate occasions, and he’s been all over for each. Just from looking at the diagram itself, though, it appears that he spent more time in the middle of the ice and on the right side of the ice.

Next I have to finish tracking passes and dive into a passing post, but before I do that, I’m going to look at the outcomes and shot types of BU’s power play shots. I’m trying to make this digestible I know it’s probably not super fun to only get chunks at a time but that’s what we’re going to do!

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