Sabres Stats: Even Strength Shooting

I'm a day late on the Saturday Statistical analysis for this week.  I was out of town on Saturday and quite frankly I had no idea what stats I could analyze this week.  I thought maybe I would do the Corsi numbers for all the Sabres but I'm not sure how relevant that stat is.  I eventually decided that I would take a look at the even strength shooting percentages of every player on the team.

Most of the numbers were exactly what you would expect but some of the numbers were extremely surprising.  I know that I have been a Daniel Paille supporter in the past but now I'm wondering if he could be a top six forward.  He had only 12 goals last season but all 12 came with the Sabres even strength.  Only Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy scored more even strength goals than Paille did.

I was even more surprised when I looked at the "true" shooting percentage numbers that also include missed shots (the NHL only counts shots-on-goal when figuring shooting percentage).  The "true" shooting percentage numbers were a slight surprise and once again they look favorably upon Paille.

If you don't have the time to analyze the entire chart I linked to, I have broken down the top 10 in a couple of different statistical categories.

5-on-5 Goals

  1. Thomas Vanek 17
  2. Derek Roy 16
  3. Jason Pominville 12
  4. Daniel Paille 12
  5. Tim Connolly 11
  6. Drew Stafford 11
  7. Clarke MacArthur 11
  8. Adam Mair 8
  9. Dominic Moore 8
  10. Jochen Hecht  8

I still can't believe that Paille is tied with Pominville for third on the team in even strength goals and I am equally surprised that Derek Roy scored almost as many even strength goals as Vanek. 

There are positives and negatives that can be taken from the statistics above.  Vanek led the team with 17 (5-on-5) goals.  There were only four teams that had a player lead the team with less than 17 goals (Colorado - McLoed 15), (Montreal - Kostitsyn 15), (Minnesota - Bouchard 14) and (NY Islanders - Bergenheim 11).  The Sabres obviously need to get more even strength scoring from their top players this season.  Vanek was one of the better power play players in the league but he could be a 50 goal scorer if he improves 5-on-5.

The Sabres had seven players that scored at least 10 even strength goals last season.  There were only four teams that had more than seven players and they were all very good teams.  The Bruins, Flames and Blackhawks all had eight players and the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins had 11.  If players like Gerbe and Kennedy make the jump to the NHL and put up decent numbers the Sabres could potentially have three full lines of 10+ even strength goal scorers.

"True" Shooting Percentage

Player - Goals-Shots-Shots Missed- AVG. Shot Distance - True Percentage

  1. Tim Connolly - 11 - 58 - 27 - 37.6 - 11.5
  2. Daniel Paille - 12 - 64 - 29 - 32.5 - 11.4
  3. Thomas Vanek - 17- 102 - 53 - 27.2 - 9.9
  4. Clarke MacArthur - 11 - 76 - 24 - 29.4 - 9.9
  5. Derek Roy - 16 - 119 - 50 - 33.2 - 8.6
  6. Adam Mair - 8 - 67 - 33 - 31.0 - 7.4
  7. Drew Stafford - 11 -133 -33 - 31.9 - 6.2
  8. Jason Pominville - 12 - 164 - 53 - 35.8 - 5.2
  9. Paul Gaustad - 7 -100 - 34 - 32.6 - 5.0
  10. Jochen Hecht - 8 -135 -42 -31.9 - 4.3

The two most surprising numbers in this breakdown are Daniel Paille being near the leaders once again and the other is how low Stafford and Pominville are on the list.  Who would think Adam Mair would have a better shooting percentage than Stafford and Pominville?  Stafford and Pominville were the only two players on the team that had decent shot totals.  The problem is they didn't score enough to justify their shot totals.  It would be nice to see Vanek and Connoly shoot more.

A quick look at how the Sabres rank against the top even strength goal scorers in the league.

  1. Alexander Ovechkin - 33 - 288 - 145 - 33.8 - 7.1
  2. Ilya Kovalchuk - 29 - 128 - 71 - 31.5 - 12.7
  3. Zach Parise -  28 - 222 - 85 - 31.5 - 12.7
  4. Jeff Carter - 27 - 193 - 77 - 31.8 - 9.1
  5. Phil Kessel - 27 - 154 - 62 - 29.8 -11.1
  6. Marian Hossa - 27 - 196 - 74 - 35.3 - 9.1
  7. Rick Nash - 26 - 159 - 63 - 30.7 - 10.5
  8. Dany Heatley - 24 - 129 - 65 - 29.0 - 11.0
  9. Alexander Semin - 24 - 148 - 68 - 34.1 - 10.0
  10. Jason Arnott - 24 - 95 - 47 - 28.4 - 14.5
  11. Louis Eriksson - 24 - 105 - 49 - 27.2 - 13.5

It's probably unfair to compare any of the Sabres statistics to those above considering this list is the best players in the league. What I found interesting is the huge difference in some of these numbers.  Some players shoot so much they score a lot of goals (Alex Ovechkin) and others take advantage of their opportunities (Jason Arnott 14.5- pct).  The thing to remember is that there is no clear cut way to be an elite goal scorer, every player is different.

Conclusion

The Sabres have scoring depth that rivals any team in the league but they still lack an elite goal scorer at even strength.  If the Sabres are going to compete with the elite teams in the NHL,  they need someone to step up offensively this season. The likely candidates to join the ranks of the elite would be Vanek and Roy.

After I finished looking at these stats it is clear that Daniel Paille should be given an opportunity to be a top six forward this season.  I haven't given him much thought on the top two lines but he obviously plays well at even strength.

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