On average a game will consist of 77 minutes between the first and final whistle. Of these 77 minutes, 70 minutes constitutes normal time and the other 7 minutes are "added time" or "injury time". Within this 77 minutes of activity the ball is in play about 43% of the time. These figures are averages. It is worth looking at the data for each game to see the distribution of game time, the time the ball is in-play, and the time the ball is out-of-play. This is illustrated in Figure 1 below. The games are presented in ascending order of total time from left to right.
Another way to look at the activity is to decompose the games into blocks of activity. Each block of activity starts when the ball is put into play and ends when the ball goes out of play. On average there are 109 blocks of activity in a game with just over 60% of these starting with a puckout and another 22% arising from foul play. Is it any surprise that so much attention is devoted to puckouts by players, coaches and commentators?
The distribution of starts and restarts for the 11 games is given in Figure 2. The focus should be on the distribution around the average. I have intentionally not identified the games in the graphics. Moreover, the games are not in the same order in the graphics, e.g. game 1 in Figure 1 is not the same as game 1 in Figure 2. There is an average of 109 starts/restarts. The minimum number is 101 and the maximum is 122. The distribution of starts/restarts, and its composition, is given in Figure 2.
With these free shots, the ball is in play for a short duration. The longest duration would be for a free shot from a range of 100m (this would be the maximum range for the best of free takers). The ball is in flight for about 5 seconds. And, strictly speaking, it is probably in play from the moment the player starts to lift the ball (based on the interpretation of the Nash-penalty and subsequent rule change). All these situations are listed as less than 10 seconds in Table 1 below.
Table 1 shows that over 91% of the time, the duration between the ball coming into play and going out of play is less than 40 seconds. Two-thirds of the bouts of activity are of less than 20 seconds.