Analyzing One-Timers: The Most Dangerous Shot in the Bag

Very little has been written about one-timers because, surprise, the NHL doesn’t track it. However, this is something we’ve been tracking for the last couple of seasons and it is worth a short post to investigate the value in this type of shot. Additionally, it is also worthwhile to dig into whether or not it is a skill to set up a one-timer for a teammate, or if it is strictly a shooter shoot. Lastly, is this type of shot more predictive than ordinary slap shots? Deflections? The standard wrist shot?

To begin, we’ll simply look at the shot and shot-on-target shooting percentage of each shot type we have recorded data on. Observe the below tables.


What we quickly see is that one-timers and deflections see the largest rise in shooting percentage if they are on target. One-timers especially are difficult shots to pull off so a larger percentage of them miss the net or are blocked, more so than any other shot type. So, one-timers, when on net (42% of the time compared to 50% of the time for all others) are an incredibly dangerous shot, second only to deflections. Of course, which shot types are repeatable for players? Which ones can better predict the rate at which they score goals? That’s what we want to know.


The above table shows the single R values for each shot type’s repeatability and the relationship between each shot type and future goal-scoring. I show these values to indicate the size of the relationship whereas a R^2 value can obscure a negative relationship. I also didn’t want to include twelve scatter plots where one table would do. The sample size was 157 forwards with at least 200 minutes in each half of the sample.

But what about the ability to set up one-timers? Is that something that’s repeatable? How does that correlate to future primary assists?


It’s the same sample size and similar table, but with the split-half repeatbility and predictive correlations for each shot assist type rather than shot type.Once again, we see that setting up one-timers is a skill and more predictive than any other shot type. It makes sense it would be a skill as a pass into the feet of a teammate doesn’t often allow for a one-timer compared to a pass right in the wheelhouse.

So what? We can conduct one more round of spit-half tests to evaluate how much value there is in one-timers by comparing a player’s one-timer shot rate and one-timer shot assist rate to other individual production metrics.


Unsurprisingly, the rate at which a player attempts and generates one-timers, given this sample of 157 forwards with >400 minutes played (200 in each half), is more predictive of individual goal-scoring and play-making ability.


Naturally, things will continue to be tested as samples grow, but every time we analyze passing data we see a common theme: a more precise way to evaluate goal production. Passing incorporates much of what people talk about when they discuss scoring: pre-shot movement, getting the defense/goalie to move, and shooting before they can reset. The one-timer is a potent weapon that deserves to be analyzed. More importantly, certain players are simply better at setting up these types of shots through accurate passing. This is yet another player skill that can be used when deciding which players to pair together, as well as discussed during team meetings to create better shots.

I’ll be doing a few short posts like this going over new metrics as I release our data in easy-to-understand rate stats. If you want to see the list for last season’s one-timer leaders, click here. This season’s will be compiled and released soon, along with lots of other stuff.


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