As we gear up for the playoffs, we naturally look for things that tells us how well a team is performing. The Playoffs can be a stressful thing to experience, so any little comfort can ease your mind, and any little flaw can drive you batty.
Prior to the arrival of deadline acquisitions Jakub Kindl, Jiri Hudler, and Teddy Purcell, the Panthers were turning in a 48.1 CF60 and a 51.3 CA60 on the season. In other words, the Panthers were not shooting a whole lot (2nd lowest rate in the NHL), despite being one of the better shot suppression teams in the league (7th best to be exact). It is an arguement that could have been made without numbers, because the Panthers frequently frustrated fans with seemingly ill-timed passes and electing not to take prime shooting opportunities.
However, since the beginning of March, that has changed markedly.
On the season, their CF60 mark has risen to 50.0, while their CA60 has remained relatively static at 51.1. The fact that the Panthers have been able to rise their average season rate over two shot attempts per 60 minutes in just over a month’s time is pretty eye popping in of itself. It is harder to make that kind of change happen this late in the season. It is all the more impressive when you consider that it does not appear this change is coming at the expense of defense. If anything, the Panthers are slightly better than they were before.
We can get a better look at this phenomenon if we isolate just the post-March part of the season. The Panthers are generating 56.5 CF60 and giving up 50.4 CA60 since March 1. That’s nothing short of awesome. Below are some graphs, provided for a more visual representation of the Panthers rise in shooting.
You can really see how the shooting rate spikes starting in late February. The effect is rather jarring. Meanwhile the CA60 line wavers a bit, but stays within a certain range.
All of this is occuring with barely any regression in PDO (-0.1%). I do not find that particularly worrying though. Among the two components of PDO, team save percentage and team shooting percentage, the save percentage has regressed a little from .933 to .931. It sits at .924 in the last month plus, which is all right, compared to where it was. Yet, because the Panthers do such a good job of suppressing shots, that effect on the results is not as pronounced, giving up 2.2 GA60 in the last month compared to the season average of 2.0.
Conversely, the Panthers shooting percentage has risen from 8.4% to 8.7%. It rolls at 9.3% since the beginning of March. The increase in shooting percentage, along with the shooting rate, has amplified the results from 2.3 GF60 on February 29 to the season average of 2.5 heading into tonight’s game. The average since March 1 stands at staggering 3.1 GF60. That is so good.
Furthermore, should the shooting precentage regress, and the Panthers continue to shoot well, they should still have a very potent offense. If they went back to a pre-March shooting percentage, they would still put up about a 2.7 GF60, half a goal better than what they presently give up. Further regression of save percentage will not close that gap, and that is plenty good enough to win games.
So, if you are looking for confidence in the Panthers heading into the playoffs, look no further than the improvement they have seen in their offense recently. There is plenty to like and feel good about here.