The Contrarian: Very Scary Stats
A reminder: when developing new stats – keep it simple.
An article, "Alex Ovechkin a perfect example of why the NHL's shooting percentage' is flawed", was written by Ian Cooper for the Toronto Star which was published on March 20, 2014.
In it, Mr. Cooper leads us on a path to find out a players true shooting percentage by factoring in the shots that are blocked by other players and complete misses to the actual shots that do reach the net. By doing so he comes to the conclusion that Alexander Ovechkin is not as scary a shooter as we believe him to be.
He states, "So while Ovechkin and Kessel have respectable shooting percentages when compared to their peers in the table below (Ovechkin ranked 11th of 27 while Kessel was 19th), if you look at their true shooting percentage, both of these top scorers look less scary."
In the article he suggests that Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Toews are better, more feared shooters, because they have a better true shooting percentage. By his calculations, Ovechkin has a true shooting percentage of 6.74, Phil Kessel 6.83, Stamkos 10.85 and Toews 10.62. Of the 27 players that are evaluated, only Patrick Sharp has a lower percentage with 5.99.
Poor Alexander Ovechkin. Always seems to be picked on these days.
But what are we really finding out from Mr. Cooper's article? The answer is nothing. In fact, I am going to argue that we are in fact being misled by him.
His premise is that if Ovechkin, and players like him, didn't shoot so often they wouldn't get as many goals. It is by sheer volume that they earn their goals and other players are more efficient and effective. Those other players are to be more trouble for goalies.
The first thing that comes to mind is what prevents those other players from shooting more and thus getting more goals for themselves. There is no limit to the amount of shots a player can take and it isn't a contest of perfection. The fact that Ovechkin takes a lot of shots means that he has confidence to think he can score. So what if the shot gets blocked or if he misses the net. He shoots where other players don't.
As a fantasy owner, do you care if it takes him 1.5 times more shots than Toews to get as many goals? Yes, only if you are in a roto league that has shooting percentage at a stat category so you would be negatively affected. But otherwise, no you don't care especially if the pool is points only.
Back to his article, near the end he says "Obviously we can't say what would happen in an alternative universe where Ovechkin and Kessel shoot the puck less or Toews shoots more." What is the point of the article then? Is this article not trying to figure out who is the better goal scorer and thus most feared by goalies in the league? From that we would be given some insight as to which players are overrated or underrated.
Do you know who the NHL's all-time shooting percentage career leader is?
Is it one of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Forsberg, Eric Lindros, Brett Hull, Pavel Bure, Sergei Fedorov, Teemu Selanne or Mark Messier? No.
Is it Mike Bossy, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito, Rick Middleton, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Dale Hawerchuck, Bobby Hull, Gilbert Perreault or Darryl Sittler? No.
How about Joe Mullen, John MacLean, Zigmund Palffy, Denis Savard, Steve Larmer, Tim Kerr, Mike Modano, Cam Neely, Bernie Nicholls or Lanny McDonald? No.
I could go on with even more names. The answer is Craig Simpson. Yes him, with a career shooting percentage of 23.66 (247 goals on 1044 shots in 634 games). You can see the All-Time list here or here.
Is he really the most feared NHL shooter ever though? Simpson's career stats can be seen here. He only has one season where he has scored over 50 goals. Heck, in one season alone Phil Esposito shot 550 times which is more than half of Simpson's career totals. With all due respect I'd be more worried about a shot from Esposito than Simpson.
If we truly want to find out who are the most feared scorers, then let us not worry about efficiency and simply look at the absolute results in terms of Goals per Game.
A list of all time goals per game leaders can be seen here. Mike Bossy leads the pack, Lemieux is third, Bure is fourth and Ovechkin is fifth. This makes more sense to me.
If you want to just see this seasons leaders you can view this link. Stamkos is the leader but Ovechkin is right behind him. Max Pacioretty is third, Corey Perry is fourth and Gustav Nyquist is fifth which surprised me when I saw it. Good to keep a note of that in my mind for the future. Kessel is ninth and just out of curiosity Toews is 33rd.
My point in all this is don't bog down into the minutia of formulae or over think things. Blocked shots, missed shots, shooting percentage, true shooting percentage… just give me goals and games played.
The scary shooters just scream out like a slap shot from the top of the slot.
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