We need some distractions. Let’s get distracted for a minute...
But, what does FenwickClose% mean in a more tangible way? What does the nose dive in FenwickClose% mean in a tangible way?
Let me say a couple basic things about FenClo% given the data typically used (5 seasons, 150 team-seasons, from behindthenet.ca).
First, remember all of this is 5v5 play. Second, we keep saying that FenClo% is an interesting statistic because it typifies puck possession as a percentage, not a raw number. In real terms, though, what does a FenClo of 50% mean? Alright, let’s do this.
A Fenwick event is a shot on goal or a missed shot (either for or against; let’s call this Fenwick+ and Fenwick-). The Fenwick percentage is the percentage of the total number of Fenwick+ for 1 team. FenwickClose% is this percentage is "close" situations (+1, tie, -1).
A FenClo% of 50 means that the teams had an even number of Fenwick+. A FenClo% of 100 means that all Fenwick+ events were for 1 team. A FenClo% of 0 means that this team has no Fenwick+ events. (Dang.)
Ok. First, we need to get the average number of total Fenwick events per game. Once we have that, we can compute what the percentages mean in real terms (Fenwick+, which, again, is shots on goal + missed shots on goal).
Per the data:
1) Close score situations (by minute) per game average = 28.49 (about ½ a game).
2) In those situations, the average number of shots for + missed for (per 60 minutes) AND the average number of shots against + missed against (per 60 minutes) = 77.48 (total Fenwick events per 60 minutes)
3) So, per minute, there are 1.291 Fenwick events in close situations.
4) Since we know time average, we can multiply and get this: on average there will be 36.79 total Fenwick events per game.
If a team has a FenClo% of 50, then they will have 18.39 Fenwick+ and 18.39 Fenwick- events. If we presume a linear increase (for the purpose of estimation, let’s accept this for the moment), a FenClo% of 51 means that we can expect 18.76 Fenwick+ and 18.03 Fenwick-. If FenClo% is 52? We can expect 19.13 Fenwick+ and 17.66 Fenwick-.
Remember that each 1% increase in FenClo% means a decrease of 1% for the opposition (50-50, 51-49, 52-48, etc.). In real terms, a 1% percent difference affects Fenwick differential by 0.74.
Yup, table of Fenwick+ increasing and decreasing.
By dropping from 53% to 50% in FenClo%, this means the Fenwick differential has increased by more than 2. That’s, in effect, one more shot to defend, and one less shot for. TANGIBLE.
Bottom line: The result here may not seem meaningful. Does one more shot to defend and one more shot toward the net matter? Consider though, all of the crap that has to happen for a shot to even get off. Some kind of possession gain (either face-off win and/or zone breakout). If not already in the offensive zone, some kind of positive zone entry (either a carry-in or a dump-in + recovery). This all takes work all going toward that one thing we know has to happen in order for the possibility of a goal: the shot. Remember the trail of crumbs (I mean, causal model) goes from: puck possession (preventing shots against, allowing shots for) → shots (pucks toward net) → goals (pucks in net). Let’s go shots.