PDO Statistic in Hockey: What Are Its Uses?

  • What is PDO in the hockey analytics world and why is it important?

  • How can we use PDO for team analysis?

  • What is taken into account when analyzing PDO?

What is PDO in hockey analytics and why is it important in the analytics world?

Well, for starters PDO is a measure of shot percentage plus save percentage during 5 on 5 play. This stat is deemed by the NHL to be “shooting plus save percentage”, and it is extremely useful in analyzing a team or player’s hot-streak. Hot-streaks are a common feat in hockey, one team turns it on and starts playing well out of nowhere with no previous momentum. This analytic tool helps to show data on teams and players overperforming their talent levels inside of a given period, which is a useful tool in determining productivity.

PDO averages come in all across the board, but for reference in this explanation, we will use the 2019/2020 league-wide averages. During last season, the average shot percentage stands at 8.5%, and the save percentage at 92.1% giving us an average PDO of 100.6%. This number essentially means that if a team’s PDO is above 100.6, they are performing well but if that number hovers under 100.6 then that team is underperforming. Underperformance is most definitely an issue for some teams throughout the season, but on a leaguewide basis, every team experiences some scale of underperformance. By being aware of a team’s PDO, certain adjustments can be made in terms of playing style and player lines.

How can we use PDO for team analysis?

A great example of PDO representing a team outperforming competition is the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. They finished with an exceptional PDO of 113.5 (displayed as 1.1135 for graphing) meaning they were outperforming the competition in both shot percentage and save percentage in 5 on 5 play. It is no coincidence that the Lightning won the 2020 Stanley Cup, especially when advanced statistics like PDO are weighed so heavily in their favor. The next closest team to them was the Florida Panthers at 108.4; with the rest of the league following closely behind on a steady digression. Given the fact that 80% of each game is played 5 on 5, this statistic is merely provided for speculative purposes but it can provide strong instances of overperformance.

What is taken into account when analyzing PDO?

What are some other concepts to take into account when analyzing PDO? Since PDO measures shooting percentage, luck must be taken into account. Of course, goals can be scored based on shooting skill, the release of the puck, and puck placement but there is a certain degree of luck when shooting on the net. Every player has it engrained in their mind that throwing pucks on the net even if it is not a carefully calculated shot, will result in good things. Since there is a certain degree of luck included in the PDO percentage, there must be a small plus/minus threshold of that percentage. On the flip side, there is no escaping the fact that a high shot percentage does mean a team is on a scoring hot streak and can be carrying momentum. Another concept is that there is luck in save percentage too. Between sample size, goaltender backups, and sheer luck in a lot of saves can also play a factor in PDO. This is evident when a strong goalie may have a bad game, leading to a backup coming in for his rescue only to still struggle to stop pucks. This will result in a poor cumulative save percentage between the two, thus affecting the end PDO for that team. On the flip side of this, a goalie on a hot-streak can drastically improve cumulative PDO. It’s a game of luck and bounces!

2019/2020 Season PDO Dashboard