A Look at Shooting Percentage and Regression to the Mean

Because of the small sample size, goals are one of the most volatile stats that exist in hockey, and one of the most susceptible to chance.

I always find it a healthy exercise to look at which players shot at a shooting percentage significantly higher or lower than their career average. For example, when Corey Perry scored 50 goals in 2010-11, he did so with a shooting percentage of 17.2%. His career average up to that season was 11.3%. The next year, while his shot total stayed relatively constant, he obviously couldn’t sustain that 17.2% shooting percentage: he scored 37 goals while shooting 13.4%.

So gather around, and let’s take a look at the current Ranger roster, how many goals each player scored last season, and how many goals they would have scored if their shot at their career average percentage.

Should Have Scored More:

GP G Shots Career Sht% Projected Goals Difference
Del Zotto 46 3 81 0.072 5.83 -2.83
Boyle 38 2 56 0.081 4.54 -2.54
Hagelin 48 10 132 0.091 12.01 -2.01
Girardi 46 2 81 0.043 3.48 -1.48
Powe 34 0 18 0.071 1.28 -1.28
Nash 44 21 176 0.126 22.18 -1.18

These players would have scored more goals if their shooting percentages hadn’t dipped significantly. Most notably, Michael Del Zotto lost 2.83 goals because his shooting percentage (3.7%) fell well below his career average of 7.2%. Not far behind, Brian Boyle’s microscopic 3.6% shooting rate cost him 2.54 goals.

Just About Right:

GP G Shots Career Sht% Projected Goals Difference
Johnson 10 0 8 0.065 0.52 -0.52
McDonagh 47 4 83 0.052 4.32 -0.32
Haley 9 0 4 0.067 0.27 -0.27
Pyatt 48 6 56 0.109 6.10 -0.10
Pouliot 34 8 60 0.135 8.10 -0.10
Bickel 16 0 2 0.000 0.00 0.00
J. Moore 30 1 29 0.032 0.93 0.07
Zuccarello 15 3 27 0.099 2.67 0.33
Asham 27 2 14 0.110 1.54 0.46
Callahan 45 16 144 0.107 15.41 0.59
Staal 21 2 20 0.053 1.06 0.94

These players didn’t show much separation because either: (a) their shooting percentage was fairly close to their career average, or (b) they had so few shots on goal it didn’t make a difference. New Ranger Benoit Pouliot shot at a 13.3% rate, but amazingly that fell slightly short of his career mark of 13.5%.

Probably A Little Lucky:

GP G Shots Career Sht% Projected Goals Difference
Richards 46 11 110 0.090 9.90 1.10
Stralman 48 4 66 0.042 2.77 1.23
Brassard 47 12 88 0.106 9.33 2.67
Stepan 48 18 108 0.126 13.61 4.39

These players likely owe a goal or two to the Hockey Gods. Leading the way, Derek Stepan shot 16.7%, well above his career rate of 12.6%

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