This Wonderful Graphic Proves That In The NHL, Puck Possession Is All

The hockey internet is fawning over this graphic from Chris Boyle at Canadiens blog Eyes on the Prize, and it's easy to see why. The chart takes a second to understand, but when you do, it's hard to come away thinking there's any stat more telling than Fenwick.

Advanced hockey stats can be intimidating, I know. But this one's super-simple. "Fenwick" is the differential between the shots a team takes (minus blocked shots), and those taken by its opponent. Think of it as +/-, but for shots instead of points. A .500 percentage is average. "Fenwick close," which this graphic shows, is the same thing, but only in one-goal situations in the first and second periods, and in tied games after that. It's a more effective baseline that discards situations where one team is trying to run out the clock, or desperately catch up.

The graphic charts every team's Fenwick close since the 2007-2008 season. It's broken up into 50-percentage-point quadrants, from .400 to .600. Read it counterclockwise from the top right. Zero teams with the lowest Fenwick close have made the playoffs in the last five years. Every team with the highest Fenwick close has played into May, with three of the eight reaching the Cup finals. Even discarding those outliers, there's an enormous correlation with being on the plus side of .500.

(As of yesterday's games, only the Kings and Bruins would fall in the highest quadrant.)

You want to reach the postseason? Own the puck, and take more shots than your opponents. I love it when a complicated sport is made simple.

Go to Eyes on the Prize for a high-res chart, and more explanation.