Are NHL teams better or worse in must-score shootout situations?

December 22, 2014

I wrote another article today for Deadspin. I look at whether scoring rates in NHL shootouts are different when the game is on the line. Here’s a snippet from the article:

“A simple t-test, which evaluates whether these means are statistically distinguishable from each other, indicates that the goal probability in low pressure situations (yellow) is statistically significantly higher (p<.05) than the goal probability when a team must score to avoid a loss (red). However, there are no significant differences between the goal probability when a goal wins the game and either of the other two scenarios…

“What do these results tell us about the likelihood of seeing another 20 round shootout sometime soon? We know, empirically, that 31.4 percent of shootouts are tied after the first three rounds. We can also use basic principles of probability to calculate that once the game goes to sudden death after the third round, there is a 55.7 percent chance that the game advances to another round. Based on these two statistics, the probability that a shootout lasts 20 or more rounds is about 0.0027 percent.”