ONTARIO, CA – Recent trends in the hockey world have been towards stats, some way to numerically show what we’re seeing on the ice every night and perhaps hard evidence of what we think we saw (or evidence that we’re very wrong). While the NHL is slowly starting to embrace these numbers with sites dedicated to tracking them, the AHL is a little bit behind.

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Don’t be afraid, they’re only numbers

We like to take a look at the stats available every 15-20 games and see what trends can be teased out. Come join us on our first quarter journey through the AHL numbers. Because the AHL has continued with the odd policy of having the Pacific Division play

Because the AHL has continued with the odd policy of having the Pacific Division play less games, we have to break down everything in a per game number. Don’t worry, it’s not as painful as a math class. If you’re interested in a more in-depth look, the numbers we use are available here: ahl-stats_nov-2016

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Yeah, you missed that

First off is goals for and shooting percentage. Your leaders are:

(5) Lehigh Valley Phantoms – 3.93 GPG/13.02 SH%

(4) Stockton Heat – 3.75 GPG/11.39 SH%

(13) Texas Stars – 3.75 GPG/11.81 SH%

(15) San Jose Barracuda – 3.55 GPG/10.86 SH%

(1) Tucson Roadrunners – 3.45 GPG / 11.8 SH%

(16) San Diego Gulls – 3.42 GPG/10.07 SH%

The first thing that one might notice is that all but one of the leaders are in the Pacific Division but, for the most part, not highly ranked in the rest of the league. The NHL’s Western Conference has a reputation of hard-nosed, low scoring defensive play. That trend is not reflected in their development teams and could signal a shift in play at the higher levels when the kids get their call-up.

The next thing to notice is the one Eastern Conference team, the Phantoms. The average shooting percentage of the league is currently 10.11%. Lehigh Valley’s percentage is well above that (for percentage numbers). Their percentage is also the highest in the league. While not abnormally high, one does wonder if it is sustainable.

Now for the flip side. At the bottom of the pack are:
(22) Rockford Icehogs – 2.19 GPG/7.03 SH%

(27) Binghampton Senators – 2.27 GPG/7.93 SH%

(20) San Antonio Rampage – 2.41 GPG/8.70 SH%

(26) Cleveland Monsters – 2.47 GPG/7.55 SH%

(27) Bakersfield Condors – 2.50 GPG/8.67 SH%

(30) Utica Comets – 2.53 GPG/9.29 SH%

Again, it is mostly Western Conference teams, this time from the Central Division, represented here with Utica as the exception. The teams represented here also have the lowest shooting percentage in the league (except the Comets, which is not good news for Utica fans).

Jack Campbell
Did I get something on my pad?

Next we’ll take a look at Goals Against Per Game and Shots Against Per Game. League averages are 2.95 GAPG and 26.94 SAPG.

The leaders are:

(3) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – 1.98 GAPG/27.88 SAPG

(6) Toronto Marlies – 2.36 GAPG/18.64 SAPG

(4) Stockton Heat – 2.42 GAPG/27.00 SAPG

(2) Milwaukee Admirals – 2.43 GAPG/18.79 SAPG

Your top four pull one from each division in an equal spread across the league. Perhaps most impressive is the Penguins’ 1.98 GAPG. That coupled with their higher SAPG is giving them a save percentage of 93.27%, suggesting that a good portion of their success is due to goaltending.

At the bottom of the pack:

(16) San Diego Gulls – 3.67 GAPG/27.87 SAPG

(28) Iowa Wild – 3.71 GAPG/34.94 SAPG

(13) Texas Stars – 3.94 GAPG/34.13 SAPG

(29) Hartford Wolf Pack – 4.19 GAPG/26.56 SAPG

San Diego and Texas are being propped up by their scoring ability, keeping them from the bottom of the league. The Stars’ 34.13 SAPG is the second highest in the league again. Last season the team had the same problem with their high scoring being nullified by poor defensive play. It’s something the franchise might want to look at.

Colourful preschool numbers

All this leads to the ‘luck’ stat of PDO. An even team will have a PDO of 1.00. An unusually lucky team will be above that while the unlucky ones will be below it. Let’s check & see who’s season might be due for a change.

The lucky teams currently are:

(5) Lehigh Valley Phantoms – 1.05

(3) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – 1.04

(4) Stockton Heat – 1.02

(1) Tucson Roadrunners – 1.02

No unusually lucky teams, but the Phantoms may see their record take a hit soon.

Unlucky teams are:

(26) Cleveland Monsters – 0.92

(12) Ontario Reign – 0.93

(29) Hartford Wolf Pack – 0.93

(15) San Jose Barracuda – 0.94

Of note in this group are the Reign & the Barracuda. With both already having average or above average scoring with decent defense, an improvement in their luck could vault them to the top of the league.

That’s a look at the AHL numbers so far. We’ll be back at mid-season to see how things have changed & what direction teams may be headed in.

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