Derek Zona over at From the Rink had a very interesting article on shooting percentages and how single year peaks in goals will generally flatten out based on a player's historical shooting %. Is this bad news for Meuller and great news for Stastny? Was Stewart's break out year just a fluke? Why am I asking rhetorical questions? If I've learned anything from Woody Paige it is this; Be as incoherent as possible in the first third of what you write and the reader will turn to section 25B just to see how you actually have a point. More after the jump!
Derek makes a pretty simple point in that goal scoring has a median. For example, if you're a 3rd line forward in the NHL and your goal is 15 goals on the season you have a couple of ways to reach that goal. That forward can take 125 shots on goal at a scoring clip of 12% or 100 shots on goal at 15%. It's so simple, yet so hard. He then looks at possible goal-scoring fall off by players that scored well over their career shooting percentages. Among those leaders were Mikael Samuelsson who shot at a rate 14% over his career average and a bunch of other Vancouver players. Lots of pundits threw Corsi numbers at the Avalanche and said they were playing over their heads. Perhaps Vancouver had their own brand of fools gold going in to the playoffs?
So, where does that put the Avalanche?
|Rk||Player||Pos||GP||G||A||PTS||+/-||PIM||EV||PP||SH||S||S%||Career Avg S%|
* Lake Erie
** Lake Erie 2008
The first thing that sticks out is that some of these names just don't belong on the top of the list. Koci takes six shots on goal and scores one. If I recall, I think that puck went off his ass in to the net when he wasn't even looking at the shot from the point. Koci just scores goals people, he's a precision shooter.... with his ass. Anyway, the big name that jumps out is Mueller with his Mike Bossy-like 25.7%. Obviously this won't hold up, but in his defense he only had 15 games and 35 shots. At that pace he would shoot 191 times in a full 82 game season. To put things in to the right perspective, Ilya Kovalchuk has a career shooting % of 14.8 (Lidstrom and Blake are just above 6% for offensively gifted defensemen). So, for Mueller the jury is still out of course. He had some rough times in Phoenix but I believe that just watching his play on the ice we know he's better than a 10% shooter. If he elevates his game to a 13-14% clip and maintains his shot totals then Ferris is good for around 25 goals in a season. There are many things that stats don't tell you, and Mueller is a better player than he showed in Phoenix but probably not as dominate as we saw in a short time in Denver. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
If the theory holds true I think we can conclude first, that this team is really young and we just don't know what %s they should be shooting. Will Yip continue at a clip of 16%? Probably not, but if he takes 180 shots at 13% he's tossing in over 20 goals! Duchene is really interesting here because that 13.3% shooting was completely snake bit. Anyone who watched the kid knows he has three names for the posts, "not" (left post), !@#%(cross-bar), "again" (right post). I expect that % to improve, he's truly on that Stamkos kind of development path. O'Reilly may not have been robbed like Duchene but he can't help but improve on that shooting.
Second, I think we can conclude that while players like Mueller are likely to level out there are top players on the Avs that should continue or improve their scoring going in to next season. Chris Stewart had a breakout year but his shooting % is exactly where it's always been. He's simply taking a lot of shots on goal. Do you know what a lot of successful wingers in the NHL have in common? They take a lot of shots on goal. As long as he keeps pulling the trigger I don't think we should expect anything less from Stewart and in fact based on his slow start to the season I'd expect his shooting % to improve closer to 13% or better. The player that's set up for perhaps the biggest goal production leap next year (besides Duchene) is probably Paul Stastny. He has never been a prolific goal scorer but last year he had a fall-off in shooting for sure. Hard to say why his shot-making dropped off so much but he's getting his shots (199). His reasonable career average of 13% should be easily obtainable next year. That would put Stats closer to 30 goals than 20. The top three centers for the Avalanche in all likelihood underperformed in the goal scoring department.
In conclusion, the Avs never played over their head in the shooting department last year. In fact, with more experience and a better power play I'd expect the Avalanche to have an even better year on offense. We should expect more peaks and valleys, that's just the nature of sport. Hejduk shot 20.5% in 2001 when he scored 50 goals. His rookie year was at 7.9%. So clearly Ryan O'Reilly will win the Rocket Richard award. And... scene.