In fact, there are 2 steps to any scoring-chance. The first step involves gaining possession of the puck in the offensive-zone, while the second requires a team to gain possession of the puck inside the slot.
In terms of gaining possession in the offensive-zone, teams can either carry the puck into the offensive-zone by way of a controlled-entry, or they can dump the puck into the offensive-zone; requiring a loose-puck recovery or a combination forechecking-play and loose-puck recovery. The final way to gain possession of the puck in the offensive-zone is to win a face-off.
As mentioned earlier, loose-puck recoveries have a huge impact on shot-attempts. In Periods during the Ottawa Senators series that saw the Montreal Canadiens produced more than 20 shot attempts, they averaged 35 loose-puck recoveries. When their shot-attempt total fell below 20, they averaged only 24.8 loose-puck recoveries.
LPR's period 2 of game 4 (9 shot-attempts)
LPR's period 1 of game 5 (30 shot-attempts)
Looking at the Canadiens scoring-chances during their first round win over the Ottawa Senators, we see that 53% of the time Montreal gained possession of the puck in the offensive-zone at even-strength (and eventually produced a scoring-chance) it was by way of a controlled offensive-zone entry. Another 32% were the result of dump-ins, while 15% came off of face-off wins.
Montreal was able to create more scoring-chances during periods where they carried the puck in than they did when the dumped the puck into the offensive-zone. In fact, during periods where Montreal had a carry-in to dump-in ratio above 1.0 they averaged 3.9 scoring-chances; compared to 2.6 when their controlled-entry to dump-in ratio fell below 1.0.
As previously mentioned, the second step in creating scoring-chances involves getting the puck to a player positioned in the slot. This can be done one of four ways; a player can skate the puck into the slot, he can pass the puck to a teammate in the slot, he can recover a loose-puck produced off of a rebound, or he can recover a loose-puck already positioned in the slot. This last instance can be the result of a successful forechecking play (stick/body-check, blocked pass), or a failed possession play (unsuccessful deke, pass).
During Montreal's series win against Ottawa 45% of their scoring-chances involved a pass to the slot, 25% involved a player skating the puck into the slot, 17% involved a recovery of a loose-puck already positioned in the slot, and 13% involved a rebound (loose-puck recovery following a save by the opposition goalie).
At no time during the Ottawa series did Montreal produce more than one successful pass to the slot without producing at least 3 scoring-chances. In fact, during the two periods where the Canadiens were unable to produce at least one scoring-chance they also were unable to complete a pass to the slot.
Passes to the slot during game 3 (17 scoring-chances)
Passes to the slot during game 4 (4 scoring-chances)
Shot-attempts are an important metric when focusing on where the bulk of events are occurring. Beyond anything else, teams that produce more shot-attempts than their opposition are spending less time in their own zone. That said, not all shot attempts are created equal.