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Fantasy Hockey: Shots On Goal and Shot Percentage

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The best way point out a sniper in fantasy hockey is simply look at the history of Shots On Goal. Guys like Alex Ovechkin, Phil Kessel, Jeff Carter and Rick Nash are perennially on the list of the top 10 forwards with shots on goal. Naturally, it's one to assume that the more you shoot at the goalie, the greater your chances of making that shot. However, the logic of this is flawed because what's to stop someone from dealing with a prolonged slump like Phil Kessel did for 14 games? The guy is projected to be 2nd in the league with shots on goal yet he had no known injury or the like. So what do you do then? It's better to take a look at Shot Percentage and see how efficient the snipers are at scoring against goalies.

More after the jump...

Before we take a look at both of these stats, we need to narrow the field a bit. First, we even the field by spreading their rates of SOG and Goals over a league average 57 games played. This is bring up the players who've been injured over a good amount of time along with everyone else who's played all the games thus far. (As an aside, I understand that this assumes that the player continues to perform well over a 57 game period and ignores any streaks or slumps they may have over that time. However, we have a large enough sample size of games played this deep into the season to have a good idea of how they could have performed if they were healthy.) Second, we need to set a limit of 120 shots on goal over the 57 games played span so we can weed out the players who have shot very low but have 10 more goals, which would throw things off in emphasizing goal scorers.

The very first thing I can see is that the truly elite forwards. Steven Stamkos has had 200 shots and 40 goals over 57 games and an amazing 0.20 shot percentage. That may not seem like a very good percentage but lets consider equally elite snipers and their shot percentages:

Alex Ovechkin 261 shots, 21 goals over 57 games; 0.08 S%

Phil Kessel 243 shots, 21 goals over 57 games; 0.086 S%

Jeff Carter 235 shots, 26 goals over 56 games; 0.11 S%

Rick Nash 226 shots, 26 goals over 55 games; 0.115 S%

These were likely guys who were take in the first or second round of the draft so seeing these percentages compared to Stamkos makes it that much more incredible of a player he is in the NHL. Other guys who've done well by Shot Percentage:

Ryan Kesler 182 shots, 32 goals over 57 games; 0.178 S%

Nikolai Kulemin 130 shots, 21 goals over 57 games; 0.160 S%

Brenden Morrow 154 shots, 24 goals over 57 games; 0.156 S%

Mikhail Grabovski 162 shots, 24 goals over 57 games; 0.151 S%

Unfortunately, this still doesn't solve this issue of guys who should have done well but simply haven't. For example, Ovechkin is the obvious standout since he is WELL below his career average of .120 S% and injuries are certainly not to blame and he's still leads the league in SOG so there's nothing there to point at why he's done so poorly this year. The same goes for Phil Kessel with a career .101 S%. All you can do is chalk it up to a bad year that happens to any athlete at any given year, no matter how elite they are. 

The second thing I can see is when players are spread out over 57 games, it seems to emphasize the players whose injuries are hiding their potential. It's an obvious statement that if Sidney Crosby had played 57 games so far instead of dealing with concussion issues, he would likely be up there with Stamkos in the goal and points race. However, take a look at Drew Stafford:

37 games, 24 G, 10 A, 34 PTS, 113 SOG, 0.212 S%, 174 SOG over 57 games, 37 Goals over 57 games

If he had been healthy even with most of the season and not all 57 games, we'd be looking at a guy who is in the top 5 in goals scored! Here's some guys who have missed some time:

Danny Cleary: 0.138 S%, missed 15 games; 167 SOG, 23 Goals over a 57 game span.

Marian Gaborik: 0.119 S%, missed 13 games, 174 SOG, 21 Goals over a 57 game span.

Kristian Huselius: 0.15 S%, missed 24 games (!), 138 SOG, 21 Goals over a 57 game span.

In light of this, this is only one part of the statistics puzzle that can help you determine players who are either slumping or doing very well. But since goals is a stat that is very hard to come by, especially with snipers like Ovechkin and Nash going at high draft positions this is a great tool to weed out guys who did well with their opportunities and perhaps gives a preview of players who could be underrated going into the 2011-12 season.