By Bob Trask – Those who adhere to advanced stats often make a case for “expected goals for” when analyzing a player’s offensive effectiveness or potential. What it seemingly fails to consider is the effectiveness of the player making the shot.
Some players have a knack for efficiently putting the puck into the net whether it is due to a quick release, an accurate shot, on overpowering shot or some combination of factors. Others are less efficient but still generate goals through a sheer volume of shots.
Shooting percentages are one way of measuring that knack. Like all other statistics this one has its shortcomings but it can still be useful.
Last season the top shooting percentage in the league for forwards with more than 40 games was 23.5% and it belonged to Marcus Foligno. In order to be in the top 50 in the league, the success rate had to be about 16.0% and the average among forwards was about 11.0%.
Over the past 20 years the 11.0% average benchmark remains intact. So how did the Canadiens measure up to the averages and their own long term performance?
For the purposes of this analysis, only forwards who played 30 games or more are considered. Those who are no longer with the team, such as Artturi Lehkonen, Tyler Toffoli and Ryan Poehling, are not included.
* The improvement or decline in shooting efficiency might be somewhat counter intuitive. Let’s use the example of Rem Pitlick. It may seem like he only drop 2.4% (19.7-17.3) but that is not the case. Based on last season success rate if Pitlick would have taken 100 shots, he would have scored 17.3 goals. Based on his historical success rate, he would have scored 19.7 goals. The reduction from 19.7 goals to 17.3 goals is a drop of about 12%. The same calculation applies to all the players listed.
There are a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from these numbers. Some will be valid and some won’t. Here are a few of them.
- The percentages posted by Pitlick, Caufield and Pezzetta are based on too few games to be meaningful indicators of any future success.
- For the most part, the majority of the team regressed with regard to their shooting percentages. A rebound to anything close to their career success rate bodes well for the offense.
- A question that arises is whether Gallagher’s numbers are evidence of a career in decline or an anomaly from which he will bounce back. The same applies to Armia. A bounce back, even partially, would be great news for the Canadiens and isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
- Don’t expect Jonathan Drouin to become a sniper. He takes a low volume of shots and is less than average when it comes to scoring success.
In talking to other GMs about potential trades, will Kent Hughes be able to point to players like Hoffman and Armia and convince his rivals that they have much more potential than what was shown last year. Time will tell.
And finally, will playing under Martin St-Louis have an impact on how effective the Canadiens are on offense? There will be a lot to keep an eye on this season.