Finding correlation patterns between Goals and Shots
March 15, 2023
A new market has emerged in the NHL. We discuss one way to consider playing it.
On Monday, NHL prop bettors were greeted by a pleasant surprise: Same Game Parlays that included Shots on Goal props returned to FanDuel.
Not only could you combine multiple players from the same game to get 2+, 3+ or 4+ shots, you could also pair these props with goals scored.
Now, FanDuel has offered something similar to this in the past before removing the capability early in the season. We’re cautiously optimistic the market is here to stay, and while it is, we need to dig into a few ways that we can use props.cash trends to find a winning recipe.
Let’s drop the “we” from this for a moment. I, @griffybets, bet on NHL props daily. It’s been an up-and-down year personally, which doesn’t really matter much in this context, but the lack of consistency has me jumping at exploring a new market and new angles.
My initial theory around this market was there’s value in pairing a player to score a goal with him reaching 3+ or 4+ shots. You’ll be hard-pressed to find two props more correlated than shooting the puck and scoring a goal.
Sure, a second leg to a bet gives you another outcome that you need to win your bet, but this feels a tad different. Last night in one of what was many failed experiments, I found modest success with the above combination for Connor McDavid. McDavid, who is leading the NHL with a goal in 61% of his games this season, was -140 or worse to score a goal last night against Ottawa.
Pair him to get 3+ shots, and the bet becomes nearly even-money, and a 4+ shots leg, which also ended up covering, would have given you a SGP at +148.
When McDavid has scored a goal this season, he has 3+ shots in 85.3% of those games. That percentage drops only slightly when looking at how often he tallies 4+ shots with a score: 73.2% on the year.
An approach like this does seem to have some merit, especially for some of the best players in the NHL. That got me thinking, why don’t we look at those scoring a goal at the highest-clip this season and see how often those games also yielded 3+ or 4+ shots for the player?
The above is every player* that has a goal in 39% or more of their games this season, and the table is sorted by the highest percentage of games in which a goal is scored and the player finished with 3+ shots.
*Note: Jack Hughes and Timo Meier both also have a goal in 40% or more of their games. However, with Meier recently traded to New Jersey and now on the same line as Hughes, it felt that their past data may not help predict future outcomes, given the volume that might be split between the two moving forward. We omitted Nico Hischier for the same reason.
The elephant in the room: goal-scorer bets are hard to nail down consistently. Even the best players in this game are scoring a goal in less than half of their games.
The prices don’t always match the production either. Given Auston Matthews’ 47% hit-rate with goals this year, his implied odds should be closer to +110 rather than the -105 he’s listed at this evening. That’s not the largest difference in the world, but it’s important you acknowledge you’re giving up a portion of value when you bet on these props.
With that out of the way, goals are still scored, and we very much would like to explore this experiment in more depth.
From the above list of names, six are playing tonight: Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Alex Tuch, Tage Thompson, William Nylander and Mikko Rantanen.
It’s a strong group, and I’m already salivating at some various combinations we could run in this new market.
Let’s start with MacKinnon, who is on a torrid goal-scoring stretch. MacKinnon has found the back of the net in 14 of his last 17 games, and the SOGs have been accompanying this scoring pace.
MacKinnon has gone over his 4.5 line in 11 of his past 15 games, but it’s worth noting that FanDuel’s SGP capabilities end at 4+ shots. He has 4+ in 70% of his last 30 games and 3+ in 26 of 30.
Tonight, the Avalanche will face the Maple Leafs in a star-studded affair. By all means, you could bet MacKinnon goal straight, the best odds are +110 on DraftKings.
However when you look above, you see that MacKinnon finishes with 3+ shots in 96% of the games in which he’s scored a goal this season. That would be 24 of 25 games. Pairing MacKinnon’s goal with 3+ shots on FanDuel turns his +100 price to a +119 bet. Now, that hardly is a consequential difference, but in a game of cat and mouse where we try and find the best possible price always, it helps you get there.
It’s not so ridiculous to pair MacKinnon’s goal with 4+ shots either, a +145 SGP. MacKinnon has logged 4+ shots in six of the last seven games he’s scored. For what it’s worth, he’s had some big shot efforts against Toronto in his past few meetings.
Staying in that game, we turn to the aforementioned Matthews. It’s a nationally televised game, and count me in the bucket of liking the stars to step up when the lights are on.
Matthews is -105 to score a goal tonight against Colorado, and I certainly can understand why.
Matthews has a goal in three straight games (with 4+ shots in all three of those games, by the way). It’s his history against the Avalanche that is likely fueling this price.
Over the past two seasons, Matthews has six goals in three meetings with Colorado, and in those two games last year, the Toronto star tallied 8 SOG both times.
Do I hate a +122 combo that includes 3+ shots or a +160 SGP with 4+ shots? No, no I do not. 3+ shots have accompanied Matthews in 92.6% of the games he’s scored this season, and his shots total has reached 4+ in 71.4% of those games.
Some Sabres shooters look SGP-ready
You might have noticed a few Buffalo players near the top of the leaderboard for scoring and shooting this season, that being Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch.
The two skate on the Sabres’ top line, and Tuch made his return to the ice Monday after a few weeks on IR. Tuch wasted no time getting in the mix, finishing with five SOG and scoring twice.
Tuch now has scored in five of his last six games, and his 43% rate on the season puts him 11th in the NHL. Thompson has scored a goal at a slightly higher rate (44%), but curiously, Tuch has the slight edge when looking for games with 3+ shots along with the goal, occurring at an 84% clip compared to Thompson’s 82.8% rate. Now, Thompson has the edge at 4+ (69% vs. 52%), and this makes sense, seeing as Tage’s line is typically set at 3.5.
Despite the higher line than Tuch, I for one find it interesting how little the variance is between these two going over 2.5 shots on the season (independent of a goal). Thompson’s edge is minuscule, 68% vs. 66%, yet Tuch has a -148 price to get 3+ shots and Thompson’s line is set at 3.5 and +110. At time of writing, alternate lines and SGP capabilities are not offered for the Buffalo game, likely due to the uncertainty around Alex Ovechkin’s availability tonight.
Tuch is one I’ll be looking at tonight. He has paired a goal with 4+ shots in two straight games, and in a road game against Washington back in January, Tuch finished with a goal, two assists and four shots.
Obviously, his running mate in Thompson doesn’t look too shabby either based on how well he’s performed against the Capitals this season.
Where do we go from here?
As typically feels the case at this point in these studies, I both feel like we’ve touched on a lot while only scratching the surface of where we can take analysis like this.
For one thing, I only looked at a select handful of players. Surely there are some players that may not score as consistently, but when they do, I’d wager the player pairs that goal with 3+ shots more often than not.
From the above group, the average percentage in which 3+ shots came in the same game as a goal was 81%.
There’s a flip side to this that I’d also like to study: the correlation between games with 3+ or 4+ shots and a goal. Those two are not the same in any way. While there will be overlap, there will also be quite a few games where a player has a big shooting night but just can’t bury the puck. Studying the relationship in the inverse direction may also help us find some live-betting opportunities in the future. If say, Connor McDavid scores a goal in 79% of the games in which he’s tallied 5+ shots (made up number) and we see he has 6 shots already but has yet to score, we may want to jump on his live odds.
The hope here is that the SGP market is here for good. Hop into props.cash today and start looking for correlations and patterns as you shape your own SGP combinations. If you like a player to score that night, it’s worth at the very least seeing how often a solid shooting night has accompanied their goals in the past.
Griffin Carroll can be found running SGP experiments at @griffybets.
More trends like this, as well as thousands of statistical insights can be found using our unique props software. Crunch the numbers faster and start making smarter, data driven, prop bets.