Rush Shot Save Percentage

I have written a couple of posts (here and here) on rush shots as it relates to shooting percentages and I investigate this further at a later date. First though, I wanted to take a look at save percentages on rush and non-rush shots. Let’s start by looking at teach teams 5v5 road save percentages for the past 7 seasons combined.


A few observations:

  1. Whoa Tampa! That’s a dreadful save percentage on the rush, 2.5% below anyone else. More on this later.
  2. The teams with the best save percentages on the rush are Anaheim, Phoenix, New Jersey, and Boston.
  3. r^2 between rush save % and non-rush save % is just 0.23 which is below what I might have expected.
  4. There is significantly less variability in non-rush save percentage than rush save percentage. The standard deviation in rush save percentage is 1.09% while this standard deviation in non-rush save percentage is 0.43%. All but 7 teams have a non-rush save percentage between 92.2% and 93.0% (a range of 0.8%) while only 21 teams lie in the range from 89.4% to 91.4% (a range of 2.0%). This could be due to greater variation in the smaller sample size of rush shots but the difference in variability is greater than we see with shooting percentage (standard deviation of 0.91% on rush shots and 0.57% on non-rush shots). Could ability to make saves on rush shots be the larger factor in goaltending talent variability?

Which teams give up the highest percentage of “rush” shots? Well, this chart will provide you that answer.


Boston and Los Angeles. Who’d have guessed that? Both are teams we would consider good defensive teams and yet a higher percentage of their shots against are of the tougher rush shot variety. Meanwhile Colorado, NY Islanders and Nashville give up the smallest percentage of shots on the rush. Certainly wouldn’t have predicted that for the Islanders and maybe not Colorado either. There doesn’t seem to be any trends that can be extracted from that chart as good teams and bad teams are spread throughout.

Earlier we saw that Tampa had a downright dreadful save percentage on the rush. I wanted to take a look and see if there has been any improvement over the years, particularly last year when they got some good goaltending for the first time since probably Khabibulin.


For the first time in the past 7 seasons Tampa goaltending provided a league average save percentage on rush shots. Not sure one season is enough to definitively declare their goaltending problems over, but they seem to be on the right path after years of dreadful goaltending.

Since I am a Toronto fan I wanted to take a look at the Leafs as well to see how their goaltending has improved over the years with Reimer and now Bernier.


The Leafs had a good “rush shot” save percentage in 2007-08 but a poor save percentage on other shots with Toskala playing the majority of the games backed up by Raycroft. Everything was bad in 2008-09 though when Toskala once again had the majority of the starts while Curtis Joseph, Martin Gerber and Justin Pogge shared backup duties. Since then things have slowly gotten better, particularly when Reimer came on board the second half of the 2010-11 season and the Leafs have been a better than average team on both rush and non-rush shots the past couple seasons.

I’ll look at some other teams in future posts. If you have any teams that you’d like me to look at (i.e. teams that are particularly interesting due to change in goalies or whatever) let me know and I’ll take a look.


This article has 6 Comments

  1. Really interesting series, David. Do you have the data available to do Rush Shots against per 20? I wonder if the good defensive teams you mention above (LAK, BOS) are being penalised by the fact that they allow very few shots in general.

    1. There are a number of factors that could be at play.

      1. Good defensive teams don’t ever get bogged down in their own zone giving up fewer “in zone” shots than bad teams that do get bogged down.
      2. Since I use hits/giveaways/takeaways/faceoffs in the neutral and “opposite” zone to determine what is and is not a rush shot teams that force more face offs, dole out more hits and take/force more takeaways and giveaways may end up with more rush shots because we have more opportunity to identify them from any other shot.

      The second one could be a factor for some teams and something I will need to investigate further.

  2. 1. Could you take a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets in a future post? They’ve had an interesting several years in net going from Steve Mason’s Calder year to his downfall to Sergei Bobrovsky.

    2. What is the correlation between rush shots against and puck possession? I think that’s one explanation for why teams like Boston and LA have given up a greater percentage of shots off the rush. Better puck possession teams may be more susceptible to giving up rush shots because of more giveaways and better “half-court” defense.

    Thanks for doing this series. This is extremely insightful and has confirmed some theories that I’ve had for a while now. Keep up the great work!

    1. I probably should look at single season data but here are some correlations using the 7-year averages.

      Correlation between Rush%For and Rush%Against is 0.215
      Correlation between CF% and Rush%For is -0.034
      Correlation between CF% and Rush%Against is 0.377

  3. I am glad someone is analyzing goalie performance in more depth. One aspect I wonder about is first shot unobstructed save percentage and rebounds surrendered. I am a Blackhawk fan and have two theories about Corey Crawford. His reputation is that he lets in too many soft goals, and if you define this as unobstructed first shots, he probably does worse than the league average. And the league average should be much higher than the 91% overall average – 97% maybe? Second, how many “fat” rebounds does a goalie give up? I would define a fat rebound as a shot on goal within three seconds of a previous save. I think Crawford fares very well in this department. Any thoughts?

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