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A Statistical Look At Canadian Players in the NHL - Battle of the Provinces


There is little doubt to the importance of Hockey in Canada.

It’s the countries national winter sport, the second most played sport in the country (after golf) and the most watched.

And out of this passion for the game comes fierce rivalries that can in some instances drive even the closest of friends and family apart.

Rivalries such as the Battle of Alberta between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames as well as the Battle of Ontario between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

But in an effort to add more fuel to the fire, we at SportingCharts decided to look at the 2011-12 season statistics of Canadian born players by province to see which province reigns supreme.

First, we’ll look at Canada as a whole and then break down the stats by province.

CANADA AS A WHOLE

During the 2011-12 NHL season, there was a total of 522 Canadians who played, which represents 53.1% of all NHLers. This breaks down as 480 skaters and 42 goaltenders.

In total, Canadian skaters laced up for 23,448 games and over these games scored a total of 3,544 goals and 9,270 points. Not as shiningly, Canadian born players wound up with a combined plus-minus of -62.

To the likely pleasure of Don Cherry and his Rock'Em Sock'em style of hockey, Canadians piled up a total of 31,327 hits over the season. Not too surprising, with the average Canadian hockey player weighing 203 pounds and standing 6’1” tall.

And in a stat that would greatly excite The Green Men who patrol the Canucks penalty box, Canadian players racked up the equivalent of more than 11 days of penalty time (16,375 minutes).

On a per skater basis:

- 49 Games
- 7.38 Goals
- 19.31 Points
- 34 Penalty Minutes
- 65.3 Hits

As mentioned earlier, there were 42 Canadian born goaltenders to play in the NHL during the 2011-12 NHL season.

These netminders combined for a total of 1,095 games, 483 wins, 390 losses and 60 shutouts. And had a combined save percentage of 0.911 and a goals against average of 2.62.

On a per goalie basis:

- 26 Games
- 11.5 Wins
- 9.3 Losses
- 1.4 Shutouts

But how do these stats breakdown on a provincial level. Which province produced the most goals, points and hits? 

PROVINCIAL RIVALRY - SKATERS

Now in what will hopefully allow you to brag over email and social media among friends and family in other provinces, we look at the statistics of players on a per province level.

Here are the overall skater statistics broken down by province:

Province Players Games Goals Points +/- PIMs Hits
Ontario 197 10,080 1,637 4,159 -61 7,291 12,477
Alberta 72 3,354 477 1,225 -45 2,141 4,455
Quebec 58 2,818 478 1,331 30 1,578 3,195
British Columbia 53 2,540 300 840 53 1,529 3,891
Saskatchewan 44 2,223 329 820 -117 1,739 3,967
Manitoba 33 1,262 118 363 51 1,207 1,816
Nova Scotia 8 372 47 136 2 295 433
Newfoundland 7 484 115 265 8 265 556
Prince Edward Island 5 298 42 127 11 322 489
New Brunswick 3 57 1 4 6 8 48


As you can see, Ontario leads the NHL with the greatest number of NHL players at 197 followed by Alberta at 72 and Quebec at 58. New Brunswick had the fewest NHL players with 3.

To make this a fairer comparison among the provinces, we’ve broken out each statistical category to show the per player averages:

Province
Players Avg. Games Avg. Goals Avg. Points Avg. PIMs Avg. Hits
Ontario 197 51.2 8.3 21.1 37.0 63.3
Alberta 72 46.6 6.6 17.0 29.7 61.9
Quebec 58 48.6 8.2 22.9 27.2 55.1
British Columbia 53 47.9 5.7 15.8 28.8 73.4
Saskatchewan 44 50.5 7.5 18.6 39.5 90.2
Manitoba 33 38.2 3.6 11.0 36.6 55.0
Nova Scotia 8 46.5 5.9 17.0 36.9 54.1
Newfoundland 7 69.1 16.4 37.9 37.9 79.4
Prince Edward Island 5 59.6 8.4 25.4 64.4 97.8
New Brunswick 3 19.0 0.3 1.3 2.7 16.0


In the above, we see that Newfoundland leads the NHL in average number of games of players born in the province at 69.1, followed by PEI at 59.6 but both of these provinces had less than 10 players in the NHL.

Of teams with more than 10 players, Ontario leads at 51.2 games per player followed by Saskatchewan (50.5) and Quebec (48.6). Manitoba has the fewest games per player with 38.2 games on average.

In terms of scoring, it’s again Newfoundland with the highest rates with 16.4 goals and 37.9 point per players.

But for those provinces with more than 10 players, Ontario and Quebec split the lead with Ontario leading in goals per player (8.3) while Quebec leads in average points (22.9) - Manitoba has the fewest in both categories with 3.6 goals and 11.0 points per player.

It makes you wonder what the NHL would be like if PEI had 100+ players in the NHL, especially when one considers that the average PEI player had an average of 64.4 penalty minutes. Looking at average PIMs for provinces with more than 10 players, we see that Saskatchewan leads the way with 39.5 while Quebec have the fewest at 27.2 PIMs on average.

When it comes to hitting, players from PEI and Saskatchewan lead the way with 97.8 and 90.2 hits per player, both well above the average (65.3). Of teams with more than 10 players, it appears that Manitoba and Quebec are the most gentle along the boards with 55.0 and 55.1 hits on average. The three players from New Brunswick hit the least by far generating only 19 hits on average.

Looking at skater statistics, Ontario and Quebec are the more offensive of the provinces while Saskatchewan players show scoring ability and physicality.

But how about goaltenders?

PROVINCIAL RIVALRY - GOALTENDERS

Here are the overall goalie statistics by province:

Province
Goalies Games Wins Losses Shutouts Save % GAA
Quebec 13 422 217 130 20 0.901 2.69
Ontario 12 299 125 117 21 0.918 2.5
Saskatchewan 6 171 69 65 10 0.91 2.78
Alberta 5 64 18 21 2 0.903 2.91
British Columbia 3 89 32 38 4 0.895 2.9
Prince Edward Island 1 2 0 0 0 0.944 1.4
Manitoba 1 34 14 14 3 0.9 3.1
Nova Scotia 1 14 8 5 0 0.912 2.16


It’s unlikely to shock many that Quebec leads the way in the goaltending department, especially with its storied history of greats like Patrick Roy, Jacques Plante and Bernie Parent. In addition to having the most goalies in the league at 13, they lead in games played and wins.

Ontario is second with 12 goaltenders but led last season in shutouts at 21 edging out Quebec by one.

Looking at goaltender efficiency rates (save percentage and goals against average), for provinces with more than two goalies we see that the goalies from Ontario lead the way in both categories with a 0.918 save percentage and a 2.50 goals against average. British Columbia has the lowest save percentage as their three goalies averaged a 0.895 save percentage while Alberta had the highest goals against average (2.91).

Looking at the statistics on per goalie basis to even out for the different goalie numbers, we get the following numbers:

Province
Goalies Avg. Games Avg. Wins Avg. Losses Avg. Shutouts Save % GAA
Quebec 13 32.5 16.7 10.0 1.5 0.901 2.69
Ontario 12 24.9 10.4 9.8 1.8 0.918 2.50
Saskatchewan 6 28.5 11.5 10.8 1.7 0.910 2.78
Alberta 5 12.8 3.6 4.2 0.4 0.903 2.91
British Columbia 3 29.7 10.7 12.7 1.3 0.895 2.90
Manitoba 1 34.0 14.0 14.0 3.0 0.900 3.10
Nova Scotia 1 14.0 8.0 5.0 0.0 0.912 2.16
Prince Edward Island 1 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.944 1.40


Of the five provinces with more than two goalies, Quebec leads the way in average games and wins while Ontario leads in average number of shutouts. Alberta goalies had the lowest number of average games played and fewest wins.

Did any of the number surprise you? Let us know in the comments below.



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