Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Goal Scorers Are Not Created Equal

Goal scorers are not all the same. Many fans I've come across don't realize this (what I see as obvious) fact.
There are several "methods" I've observed to goal scoring. The best will overlap in different categories.

  • Quantity, quantity, quantity. Take lots of shots, and a fair number will end up being from good spots, of which over 10% should go in. Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Carter, Zach Parise, and Alexander Semin do this well. Moreover, these shots don't come at the expense of linemates' shots. These players all increase their team's shot output with their shooting, unlike, say, Ilya Kovalchuk. They create additional shots.
  • Get "garbage" shots. It's not just the Mike Knubles and Tomas Holmstroms that fit in here. Corey Perry, Sidney Crosby, Alex Burrows, and Daniel Briere also fit in.
  • Pure sniper. These players can create their own shots, but not always additional shots. They're very dangerous getting the puck in a shooting area, but have a propensity for getting "floaty" in other areas of the ice and often have a reputation for going "invisible" in the playoffs. You can often tell who they are because of the weak competition they face, favorable zone start, yet poor Corsi. Examples include Dany Heatley, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Gaborik, Thomas Vanek, and Tomas Fleischmann. These players don't drive possession, and their value comes from individual ability to score (especially on the power play) rather than driving team ability to score.
Obviously I've oversimplified quite a bit here. This is how I see it, though--three different types of scorers. The players in the last two categories are frequently "Corsi-passengers"--they don't "drive" shot differentials, even though they may contribute to increasing shot differentials in other ways (like by winning puck battles). There is plenty of overlap, again. Just remember that individual production isn't everything.

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