Last week, I used Greg Sinclair's Super Shot Search application to determine how many scoring chances each player on the Hurricanes contributed individually and whether or not it related to the amount of goals they scored. The study revealed some interesting information about a few players but ultimately didn't prove much since we were only looking at one year's worth of data. With only one year's worth of data tracked, it was unknown whether or not the ability to create scoring chances was a skill or just random variation that could bounce around every year. There is only one way to find this out; collect as many seasons worth of data as you can and see if there are any noticeable patterns, which is what I did with the Hurricanes using the Super Shot Search app.
This app only goes back four seasons, which is still a small sample size overall but it should be big enough to notice some patterns with certain players scoring chances rates and how much it affected their goal total. I basically followed the same procedure from my article last week where I looked at how many scoring chances a player recorded in a year, broke it down by game, by ice-time and noted what percentage of the shots they recorded were scoring chances. Only instead of doing it for just one season, I used this process for every Carolina player in the last four years. I also included recent seasons for former Carolina players so I now have four years worth of data for everyone involved with the Hurricanes during that time period.
When I was looking over this data, the one thing that jumped out at me was that those who create more scoring chances per game had a higher goals per game rate. Although, this was something that I assumed was basic knowledge at this point because it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that players who create more chances are likely going to have more goals.
This is one of the main reasons why there was so much emphasis put on the scoring chance project last season because it's easy to understand that players who create more scoring chances will, in turn, score more often and end up winning more games as a result. However, I get the feeling that a graph showing shots and goals per game would look roughly similar to the one posted above because, as Eric T. showed us, the difference between shots and scoring chances is minimal. So this graph isn't showing anything new but another question that came to my mind was whether or not players who record scoring chances on a higher percentage of their shots score more often than those who don't. Again, we get a similar answer.
You can see here that there is a slight correlation between scoring chance percentage and goals per game but the relation isn't as strong as it was in the previous graph. Still, the overall point remains because, for the most part, those who recorded a higher amount of scoring chances ended up having a higher goal-per-game rate. This pretty much goes hand-in-hand with the idea from the previous graph that players who record more scoring chances are more likely to score but it still doesn't answer the question from the beginning, is being able to record scoring chances a skill that players have, or is it a completely random attribute? It's hard to answer that question with the data present here (we will likely need to get a few more seasons tracked) but what we can do is look at each individual player's statistics over the last four years and see if there are any noticeable patterns with their scoring chance rates.
I'm going to look at over most of them in detail over the next few weeks but here are a few that I thought stuck out:
From 2009 through 2011, Jokinen was very productive when it came to producing scoring chances but that seemed to fall off quite a bit last season as he went from producing over 4 scoring chances per 60 minutes to less than three. You will also notice that he was scoring a lot more when he was producing chances at a consistent rate (duh), so that, along with a very high shooting percentage coming back down to earth, had an effect on his goal total. What caused such a large drop off for Jokinen, though? My first thought is that moving to center affected the amount of shots on goal he would get because he normally plays on a line with two guys who love to shoot the puck in Tuomo Ruutu and Jeff Skinner. There is a very realistic possibility of him moving back to the wing next season, so I'm curious to see what his scoring chance numbers will look like then, especially if he gets to play on Eric Staal's line.
Jokinen recorded at least 60% of his shots from within the scoring chance area in 2009 & 2010, and he played on the wing in both of those seasons so that should bring in some optimism for him and his offensive output next season if he does play there. This is making me wonder if centers record fewer scoring chances per game than wingers because they are usually setting up more plays than finishing them off and it would make sense for them to have a lower shot & chance total. It would be nice to see these numbers for every player in the league to confirm that.
With Stewart we have the opposite effect. In his rookie season, he made most of his shots count but suffered from horrible shooting luck. The next season, he was slightly more lucky, produced more chances per game and had a career season and last year, he was firing blanks for more than half the time but tallied nine goals thanks to a 24.1% shooting percentage from within the scoring chance area. Perhaps more evidence of the "this is completely random" theory the small sample size doesn't help things, either.
Ruutu had his most productive season in terms of producing scoring chances but ended up with his lowest goals per game rate of the four seasons. His shooting percentage declining last season is likely the reason for his somewhat low goal total but it's also worth noting that his shooting rate was abnormally high in 2008-09, so it's unlikely that Ruutu reaches that goal-total again. He also did a lot of damage on the powerplay last season, so that could have inflated his chance numbers. Although, some good news is that Ruutu has been one of the team's best players at creating scoring chances the last few seasons, so he should remain a productive player if his high chance percentage is related to his skill and not just random noise.
Samsonov's numbers could be the most intriguing of anyone I tracked because almost 70% of his total shots were registered as scoring chances during his last three seasons in the NHL. It's only three seasons, so this could be a complete fluke but it is also possible that Samsonov has been able to do this over his entire career if he is one of those players with the ability to control scoring chances at a very high rate. His chance percentages are high enough to have me intrigued about the topic. Although, if he is one of those players who can make his shots count, then why did he never record more than 16 goals in these three years? Better yet, why was Samsonov out of the NHL last year if he is someone who can create chances and at least push the play in the right direction? He wasn't scoring that much, but you would think teams could make room for Samsonov if his ability to record high shots on net was as good as it appears here.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be taking a more detailed look at some shot maps from the Carolina players to see if there are any other interesting patterns to take note of.