I have been having a discussion as to whether shot quality exists over at Pension Plan Puppets and more precisely whether certain players can drive a teams shooting percentage while they are on the ice. As part of the discussion I brought up the on-ice shooting percentage differences between Scott Gomez and Michael Cammalleri and decided that it would be useful to present that comparison as a post here.
First off, let me define shot quality as how I see it. Shot quality is an ability for players to systematically drive (or suppress) shooting percentages when they are on the ice. To me it doesn’t matter whether they can drive shooting percentages because they can get more shots from better shooting locations, or are better shooters, or are better playmakers setting up changes with the goalie out of position. Those are interesting things to investigate, but investigating them isn’t necessary to show shot quality exists. Shot quality, in my mind, is all about a players being able to drive (or suppress) shooting percentage when they are on the ice, regardless of how.
In the past I have used examples such as Henrik Sedin vs Travis Moen and some comments I got were “but those are extreme cases” which is an interesting comment because in essence they person making that argument is admitting that shot quality exists but only in extreme cases. So, I decided that it might be useful to take a look at two players who generally speaking play similar roles. Scott Gomez and Michael Cammalleri. Both Gomez and Cammalleri are top six forwards generally thought of as more offensive players. What is also interesting is they over the past 4 1/2 seasons they both have switched teams and they have both spent a couple years playing on the same team, sometimes on the same line. Let’s take a look at their 5v5 on-ice shooting percentages over the past 4 1/2 seasons.
In each and every season Cammalleri has had a higher shooting percentage, sometimes much higher. Only this season have they been close in their on-ice shooting percentages. If that isn’t a systematic ability by Cammalleri and his linemates to get a higher shooting percentage than Gomez and his linemates, I don’t know what is. They can do it every singles season.
Now, let’s take a look at their offensive fenwick rates. Here are their fenwick for per 20 minutes of 5v5 ice time rates.
Well now, that tells us a different story. Gomez and his line mates take far more shots than Cammalleri and his line mates, and they do it every single season. Gomez and his line mates seem to have a much better skill at taking shots, but Cammalleri and his line mates seem to have a much better skill at capitalizing on shots. The question now is, which skill results in more goals. Here are their 5v5 goals for per 20 minute stats.
Now that is interesting. Cammalleri and his line mates have out produced Gomez and his line mates every year until this season. Based on this one example, being able to drive shooting percentage resulted in more goals being scored than being able to drive shots. If you were down by a goal in the third period, who would you rather have on the ice, Gomez and his line mates or Cammalleri and his line mates?
And the above is a perfect example of why I don’t like pure corsi/fenwick based evaluation of players. If you just look at corsi/fenwick, Gomez looks like a very good player (see here and here), and Cammalleri does not. But, if you look at goals, over the past 2 seasons 54.1% of all goals scored while Cammalleri was on the ice were for the Canadiens while just 47.2% of all goals scored while Gomez was on the ice were for the Canadiens. Who is the better player, and who would I rather have on my team? Cammalleri by a country mile.
Let’s take it one step further and how they played when they were on the ice together and when they were apart over the past 2 seasons.
Wow, that is dramatic. When they play together can an drive shots (corsi) and goals. When Cammalleri is not playing without Gomez he can drive goals, but not shots (corsi) and when Gomez is playing without Cammalleri he can drive shots (corsi) but not goals. Again, who would you rather have on your team? For me, I’ll take the guy who can drive goals thank you very much.
And that my friends, is a perfect example of when a corsi based analysis will fail.