Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Desperately Seeking Context for Monahan's Shooting Percentage

Sean Monahan has been a member of the Calgary Flames organization for less than four months. It's absolutely staggering this young man's rise in fame and popularity over such a short period.

While it's easy to get caught up in the hype, it's so obvious it shouldn't need saying that there will be a regression at some point. Five games, 10 games, maybe 15 games without a goal -- some sort of cold stretch is coming and there may be a few of them.

Monahan's goal-scoring prowess -- a remarkable six goals in his first eight NHL games -- has come as a result of a 31.6 shooting percentage that is absolutely and unequivocally unsustainable over a full season. Sorry if this is coming as a surprise.

This is not to say he won't be a prolific goal scorer this year, assuming that Flames management decides to... well, you know. Heck, with the start he's manufactured, he could very well reach 30 goals just like then-rookies and now-KHLers Marek Svatos (32) and Peter Prucha (30) did in 2005-06 (and in 61 and 68 games respectively, no less).

What 'people' -- fans, media and the like, need to be honest about is Monahan is not going to score 61 goals, which is the ridiculous pace he's currently on.

Shooting Percentage in a Season

So, what is a realistic shooting percentage over the span of a full NHL season? To sum it up in two words -- significantly lower. In the previous 15 seasons, only 42 players in the entire NHL -- an average of less than three per season, have finished the year at 20 percent or above.

Typically, a NHL team's shooting percentage will fall somewhere between 7 and 11 percent and naturally, the league average from year-to-year is somewhere in the middle. However, if you parse it out, the shooting percentage for forwards will always be much higher than for defencemen.

As an example, from 2008 to 2013, the Calgary Flames team shooting percentage of 9.2 percent has been comprised of 10.7 percent for forwards and 5.0 percent for defencemen.

Here are the top 10 shooting percentage seasons, by individual, since 1997-98:

1. Mike Ribeiro, Dal – 25.2 in 2007-08 (76 gm, 27 g, 107 s)
2. Sergei Kostitsyn, Nsh – 24.7 in 2010-11 (77 gm, 23 g, 93 s)
3. Curtis Glencross, Cgy – 23.6 in 2011-12 (67 gm, 26 g, 110 s)
4. Alex Tanguay, Col – 23.2 in 2005-06 (71 gm, 29 g, 125 s)
5. Petr Prucha, NYR – 23.1 in 2005-06 (68 gm, 30 g, 130 s)
6. Patrik Berglund, Stl – 23.0 in 2012-13 (48 gm, 17 g, 74 s)
7. Mike Eastwood, Stl – 22.9 in 1999-00 (79 gm, 19 g, 83 s)
8. Mark Parrish, NYI – 22.9 in 2003-04 (59 gm, 24 g, 105 s)
9. Anson Carter, Van – 22.6 in 2005-06 (81 gm, 33 g, 146 s)
10. Gary Roberts, Tor – 22.6 in 2003-04 (72 gm, 28 g, 124 s)

It's an interesting collection of names, isn't it. There aren't as many household names as one might expect. There's one current Flame, two ex-Flames and Eastwood, Parrish and Carter, that sounds more like a Manhattan law firm.


Shooting Percentages in 2013-14

As for this season, Monahan is hardly alone in being overly opportunistic in the first few weeks. In fact, there are seven players that have had an even shinier golden touch around the opposition net.

Here are the top 10 shooting percentages after Monday night's games.

1. Valtteri Filppula, TB - 44.4 (8 gm, 4 g, 9 s)
2. David Backes, Stl - 42.9 (7 gm, 6 g, 14 s)
3. Chris Kelly, Bos - 37.5 (7 gm, 3 g, 8 s)
4. Alexander Steen, Stl - 35.0 (7 gm, 7 g, 20 s)
5. Boyd Gordon, Edm - 33.3 (9 gm, 4 g, 12 s)
5. Jonas Brodin, Min - 33.3 (9 gm, 3 g, 9 s)
5. Craig Adams, Pit - 33.3 (9 gm, 3 g, 9 s)
8. Sean Monahan, Cal - 31.6 (8 gm, 6 g, 19 s)
9. Marcel Goc, Fla - 30.0 (9 gm, 3 g, 10 s)
10. Vladimir Tarasenko, Stl - 28.6 (7 gm, 4 g, 14 s)


Percentage of a Team's Goals

I don't know about you but it sure feels like Monahan has scored at least half of the Flames goals so far -- and of course, red-hot Jiri Hudler has scored the other half.

However, upon further analysis, while Monahan has accounted for nearly a quarter of the Flames offence at 23.1 percent of Calgary's goals, that barely lands him in the top 10.

Here is the top 10 after Monday's games, which shows which players are shouldering the biggest portion of their team's offensive load so far:

1. Brad Richards, NYR - 36.4 (4 of 11)
2. Alex Ovechkin, Wsh - 30.0 (6 of 20)
3. Ryan Callahan, NYR -27.3 (3 of 11)
4. Alexander Steen, Stl - 26.9 (7 of 26)
5. Henrik Zetterberg, Det - 25.0 (6 of 24)
5. Tomas Vanek, Buf - 25.0 (3 of 12)
7. Jason Spezza, Ott - 23.8 (5 of 21)
7. Evander Kane, Wpg - 23.8 (5 of 21)
9. Sidney Crosby, Pit - 23.3 (7 of 30)
10. Sean Monahan, Cgy - 23.1 (6 of 26)
10. David Backes, Stl - 23.1 (6 of 26)

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