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

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
PlayerTotal GoalsUnassistedPortion
Eric Staal, CAR43613.9%
Antii Laaksonen, COL16531.3%
Mike Fisher, OTT22522.7%
Brian Gionta, NJD47510.6%
Alexander Ovechkin, WSH5259.6%
Brian Rolston, MIN32412.5%

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
TeamTotal GoalsUnassistedPortion
Washington Capitals227219.25%
Ottawa Senators306216.86%
Philadelphia Flyers251187.17%
Detroit Red Wings291165.50%
New York Rangers237156.33%
Carolina Hurricanes271145.17%
Atlanta Thrashers265134.91%
Nashville Predators248135.24%
Colorado Avalanche271134.80%
San Jose Sharks258124.65%
Columbus Blue Jackets211125.69%
Chicago Blackhawks207125.80%
Florida Panthers224125.36%
Anaheim Ducks240114.58%
Toronto Maple Leafs250114.40%
Minnesota Wild214115.14%
Dallas Stars249114.42%
New Jersey Devils228114.82%
Boston Bruins223114.93%
Calgary Flames208115.29%
Vancouver Canucks24093.75%
Montreal Canadiens23793.80%
New York Islanders21694.17%
Pittsburgh Penguins24293.72%
Buffalo Sabres26383.04%
Edmonton Oilers24183.32%
St. Louis Blues18984.23%
Tampa Bay Lightning23783.38%
Phoenix Coyotes23572.98%
Los Angeles Kings23641.69%

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)
TeamTotal GoalsUnassistedPortion
Washington Capitals109109.17%
Buffalo Sabres133107.52%
Atlanta Thrashers117108.55%
Toronto Maple Leafs11897.63%
Detroit Red Wings10187.92%
Colorado Avalanche11686.90%
Anaheim Ducks13275.30%
Pittsburgh Penguins11176.31%
Chicago Blackhawks8467.14%
Calgary Flames9555.26%
Tampa Bay Lightning11354.42%
Ottawa Senators11954.20%
New York Rangers10754.67%
Florida Panthers10654.72%
Minnesota Wild9455.32%
Columbus Blue Jackets9044.44%
New York Islanders10343.88%
Boston Bruins10132.97%
Nashville Predators11932.52%
Carolina Hurricanes11532.61%
San Jose Sharks10732.80%
Edmonton Oilers9633.13%
Philadelphia Flyers8233.66%
Montreal Canadiens10432.88%
Los Angeles Kings10022.00%
St. Louis Blues8022.50%
Dallas Stars9811.02%
Phoenix Coyotes8411.19%
New Jersey Devils9111.10%
Vancouver Canucks8811.14%

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...

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