The guys over at Behind the Net have initiated a ‘prove shot quality exists’ competition and in response to that Rob Vollman took a quick and dirty look at shooting percentage suppression. As I showed the other day, Rob’s logic was a little off.
Rob started off by identifying a number of players with high on ice save percentages over the past 3 seasons. Some of these guys included low minute players mostly playing on the fourth line against other fourth line caliber players, but there were a handful of players who played relative significant number of minutes and still put up good on ice save percentages. Let me remind you of a few names that Rob identified: forwards Marco Sturm, Manny Malhotra, Tyler Kennedy, Travis Moen, Taylor Pyatt, Michael Ryder, defensemen Kent Huskins, Sean O’Donnell, Mike Weaver, Mark Stuart. I’ll get back to these guys later but I’ll claim that Rob dismissed some of them prematurely by claiming they played against weak competition.
As you may or may not know I have developed offensive and defensive ratings for every player and these can be found at http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/ Furthermore, I have created these using goals for/against as well as shots for/against, fenwick for/against, and corsi for/against. For clarification, fenwick is shots + missed shots while Corsi is shots + missed shots + blocked shots. For this study I decided to use fenwick instead of shots because I had the data handy and I was too lazy to get the shot data in the right format but there shouldn’t be a significant difference (the two are very highly correlated).
I decided the best way to identify players that suppress shot quality is to take a players defensive goal defensive ratings (HARD+) and subtract that players defensive fenwick rating. Players with a + difference will be players who seemingly suppress shot quality while those with a – rating will be those that are unable to suppress shot quality. Here are the top 20 defensemen at suppressing shot quality (before considering quality of competition) during the 3 seasons from 2007-08 to 2009-10 with at least 1800 minutes 5v5 ice time.
There may be a few surprises in there (Leaf fans are screaming Lebda!!! right now) but many of them are well known defensive defensemen and many are also in the list of players Rob identified. For interest sake, here are the top defensive forwards with at least 1500 minutes 5v5 ice time:
Again, many defensive specialists in there and many players Rob also identified. Now here are the bottom defensemen and forwards (worst at the bottom).
|JACK JOHNSON||ANDY MCDONALD|
|TOMAS KABERLE||JONATHAN CHEECHOO|
|CARLO COLAIACOVO||RICK NASH|
|BRIAN CAMPBELL||MARTIN ERAT|
|JEFF FINGER||ILYA KOVALCHUK|
|SHAONE MORRISONN||TOMAS FLEISCHMANN|
|FILIP KUBA||CHRIS KELLY|
|DAN BOYLE||ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY|
|ANTON STRALMAN||BRAD RICHARDS|
|ANDREJ SEKERA||MARCEL GOC|
|FREDDY MEYER||KRISTIAN HUSELIUS|
|ALEXANDRE PICARD||JONATHAN TOEWS|
|MARC METHOT||DAVID BACKES|
|ANDREAS LILJA||MAXIM AFINOGENOV|
|PAUL RANGER||DAVID MOSS|
Again, not really much of a surprise. Most of those guys are not known for being great defensive players (though some like Kelly do play in defensive roles). Now, for each player I calculated the average (weighted by time on ice against) fenwick shooting percentage (goals / fenwick shots) for all of the opponents each player faced to get a quality of competition rating. The higher the shooting percentage of a players opponents, the tougher the competition he faced. Here are the top 10 defensemen and forwards in this category.
|CHRIS PHILLIPS||MARCO STURM|
|NICKLAS LIDSTROM||PJ AXELSSON|
|ZDENO CHARA||JOEL WARD|
|ROMAN POLAK||JAY PANDOLFO|
|RADEK MARTINEK||HENRIK ZETTERBERG|
|TIM GLEASON||ERIC STAAL|
|NICK SCHULTZ||SAMUEL PAHLSSON|
|MARC STAAL||DAVID LEGWAND|
|KEITH BALLARD||ROB NIEDERMAYER|
|JAY BOUWMEESTER||MIKKO KOIVU|
Marco Sturm!!!! He had one the toughest strength of competition and still did the best to suppress shot quality. Outstanding. Just for reference, the forwards Sturm played the most against were Stajan, Pominville, Parise, Crosby, Gomez, Hecht, Antropov, Plekanec, Langenbrunner, Stafford, Gionta, Blake, St. Louis, Vanek, Kovalev, Ovechkin, Kessel, Zajac, Heatley, Stillman, Alfredsson, etc. Not exactly your third and forth lines. Another guy Rob identified was Sean O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s most faced forwards were Joe Thornton, Doan, Ribiero, Marleau, Setogutchi, Morrow, Iginla, and H. Sedin so clearly the Kings were using him against the oppositions top lines. Now, what we really want to do is identify the players who had the best shot quality suppression while still had a high quality of competition. To do this I added the number of standard deviations above the mean shot quality suppression stat to the number of standard deviations above the mean quality of competition stat and got the following.
Defensemen suppressing shooting percentage
Forwards suppressing shooting percentage.
Now, all of this can be repeated to identify those who are best at driving shot quality.
Defensemen Driving Shooting Percentage:
Forwards Driving Shooting Percentage:
The list of shooting percentage defensemen is kind of interesting and does identify several good offensive defensemen, but the list of forwards is a near who’s who of offensive forwards. Yes, there are some oddities such as Stortini and Armstrong mixed in but otherwise those are all great offensive players at the top of the list while the bottom of the list is filled with defensive-minded role players who probably don’t even try to create any offense.
If you recall, at the beginning of this post I pointed out 10 players that Rob identified as players who may have suppressed shot quality. These are the 10 players he identified that met my minutes played criteria (the goons and 4th liners did not). He later dismissed them as being players who played against weak competition. From what I have done, it is fair to say that Kennedy, Pyatt, Ryder, Malhotra, Stuart and Huskins played against weak to very weak shooting percentage players but Weaver played against average competition, O’Donnell and Moen good quality competition and Sturm excellent competition. With that said, even though 6 of those players didn’t play against very tough competition, all 10 of them players did in fact suppress the competitions shooting percentage from their otherwise typical levels.
Now, does any of this absolutely prove that shot quality exists? No. It isn’t a rigid proof and the deniers will probably make that claim, but it is a lot of evidence supporting the claim that shot quality does in fact exist. If shooting and save percentages were primarily luck driven you’d probably see some Sjostrom’s and Draper’s and Moen’s mixed in with the Kovalchuk’s and Crosby’s and Malkin’s in terms of shot quality generation.
(I hope all of this makes sense but if it doesn’t let me know and I’ll try to clarify.)