Flyers game 3 shots (cvs)

Flyers game 3 shots (CBS)

Fancy Stats say that the Philadelphia Flyers possessed the puck for 62% of the game. Fancy Stats say that indicates the better team and expected winner.

Now, I think we all agree that the team that controls the puck usually will win the game. However, do you need to be in possession of the puck to have control? Let me explain. The Flyers took 32 shots on goal last night, only 4 of which were below the hash marks, between the circles and near the crease (aka: The Kill Zone). 1 of those 4 shots beat Lundqvist. The rest of Philadelphia’s shots were from far away and/or from bad angles.

The Rangers on the other hand, took 23 shots, 6 of which were in The Kill Zone, 3 of them for goals. The Rangers scored on 17% of their shots, while the Flyers only scored on 3%.

NYR game 3 shots (CBS)

NYR game 3 shots (CBS)

I know the stats guys are reading this, mocking and laughing. Of course, they will fall back on their old reliable excuse, “it’s just one game!” I understand how sampling works all to well, I built an entire Quality Assurance program using it. That aside, what Fancy Stats (COSRI-FENWICK) fail to capture is that the Flyers held the puck longer trying to find a shot. The Rangers controlled play, and in essence the puck, by playing sharp defense and keeping the Flyers to the outside. New York’s strong positional play kept the Flyers searching and usually only finding low percentage shots.

Those factors are not captured in Fancy Stats’ raw data. Your eyes see what the numbers don’t. NY was poised throughout the game and in complete control. They fed off of their defense and generated offense from it. New York held the lead from the early stages on and partially sat back to protect it. In the end, they were in total control virtually all game.

So last night, the stats screamed that the Flyers were the better team. However, the final score and anyone who watched the game saw that it was the Rangers.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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