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"We Don't Need No Stinkin' Assists..."

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After having recently looked at the NHL's leading assist makers, in an attempt to weed out those players loading up on 2nd Assists, I thought I'd take a look at the opposite end of the scoring formula. How often are Unassisted Goals scored, and which players get the most and least unassisted tallies? On an individual level, that could help us see who can create (and capitalize on) their own offensive chances, while on a team level, it might give us some insight into offensive style. For instance, a low-scoring team with a high proportion of "Solo Goals" might have goal-scoring talent on the roster, but not enough playmaking ability to set them up more often.

Somewhat surprisingly, when we look back at the 2005-06 season, only 4.8% of non-empty net, non-penalty shot goals were scored without an assist. In terms of overall results, Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes led the league with 6 such markers:

Unassisted Goal Leaders 2005-06
Player Total Goals Unassisted Portion
Eric Staal, CAR 43 6 13.9%
Antii Laaksonen, COL 16 5 31.3%
Mike Fisher, OTT 22 5 22.7%
Brian Gionta, NJD 47 5 10.6%
Alexander Ovechkin, WSH 52 5 9.6%
Brian Rolston, MIN 32 4 12.5%


At the opposite end of that spectrum, we find that out of the top 25 goal scorers from last year, there were four players who scored zero unassisted goals: Ottawa's Dany Heatley, Anaheim's Andy McDonald, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, and Edmonton's Ryan Smyth.

And now for the team-by-team results...

Unassisted Goals By Team 2005-06
Team Total Goals Unassisted Portion
Washington Capitals 227 21 9.25%
Ottawa Senators 306 21 6.86%
Philadelphia Flyers 251 18 7.17%
Detroit Red Wings 291 16 5.50%
New York Rangers 237 15 6.33%
Carolina Hurricanes 271 14 5.17%
Atlanta Thrashers 265 13 4.91%
Nashville Predators 248 13 5.24%
Colorado Avalanche 271 13 4.80%
San Jose Sharks 258 12 4.65%
Columbus Blue Jackets 211 12 5.69%
Chicago Blackhawks 207 12 5.80%
Florida Panthers 224 12 5.36%
Anaheim Ducks 240 11 4.58%
Toronto Maple Leafs 250 11 4.40%
Minnesota Wild 214 11 5.14%
Dallas Stars 249 11 4.42%
New Jersey Devils 228 11 4.82%
Boston Bruins 223 11 4.93%
Calgary Flames 208 11 5.29%
Vancouver Canucks 240 9 3.75%
Montreal Canadiens 237 9 3.80%
New York Islanders 216 9 4.17%
Pittsburgh Penguins 242 9 3.72%
Buffalo Sabres 263 8 3.04%
Edmonton Oilers 241 8 3.32%
St. Louis Blues 189 8 4.23%
Tampa Bay Lightning 237 8 3.38%
Phoenix Coyotes 235 7 2.98%
Los Angeles Kings 236 4 1.69%


The real outliers here are Washington, which scored a much higher portion of their goals unassisted than any other team in the league, while on the bottom end you have Phoenix and L.A., which were the only two teams scoring less than 3% of their goals unassisted.

As for this year, we have three players so far with 3 Solo Goals each: Atlanta's Marian Hossa, Toronto's Mats Sundin, and (what is it about this family?) Pittsburgh's other rookie sensation, Jordan Staal.

And as to our team-by-team numbers, the Capitals are again leading the way...

Unassisted Goals By Team 2006-07 (as of 12/28)
Team Total Goals Unassisted Portion
Washington Capitals 109 10 9.17%
Buffalo Sabres 133 10 7.52%
Atlanta Thrashers 117 10 8.55%
Toronto Maple Leafs 118 9 7.63%
Detroit Red Wings 101 8 7.92%
Colorado Avalanche 116 8 6.90%
Anaheim Ducks 132 7 5.30%
Pittsburgh Penguins 111 7 6.31%
Chicago Blackhawks 84 6 7.14%
Calgary Flames 95 5 5.26%
Tampa Bay Lightning 113 5 4.42%
Ottawa Senators 119 5 4.20%
New York Rangers 107 5 4.67%
Florida Panthers 106 5 4.72%
Minnesota Wild 94 5 5.32%
Columbus Blue Jackets 90 4 4.44%
New York Islanders 103 4 3.88%
Boston Bruins 101 3 2.97%
Nashville Predators 119 3 2.52%
Carolina Hurricanes 115 3 2.61%
San Jose Sharks 107 3 2.80%
Edmonton Oilers 96 3 3.13%
Philadelphia Flyers 82 3 3.66%
Montreal Canadiens 104 3 2.88%
Los Angeles Kings 100 2 2.00%
St. Louis Blues 80 2 2.50%
Dallas Stars 98 1 1.02%
Phoenix Coyotes 84 1 1.19%
New Jersey Devils 91 1 1.10%
Vancouver Canucks 88 1 1.14%


Across the league this year, 4.6% of non-empty net, non-penalty shot goals are solo efforts, quote close to last year's 4.8% figure. As to major moves by various teams, the Philadelphia Flyers are on a pace to score only about a third as many solo goals as last season, whereas the Buffalo Sabres have already exceeded last year's total and should score more than 20 by season's end (but then again, what kind of goals aren't they scoring these days?).

So if your favorite team's playmaker gets injured this year, take a look above and see what propects there are for players to create their own offensive chances. In some cases, there may be enough offensive skill around to make up for the loss...