Cogs has his work cut out for him

Jason Gregor
October 11 2008 10:34PM

It’s almost impossible to predict how many goals a player will score in a season—except predicting that Ovechkin will get 50+ for the next five years because he is that good—but one prediction I’m fairly confident in is that Andrew Cogliano will shoot a lot more this season, while his shooting percentage will drop significantly.

Cogliano had a solid rookie campaign, scoring 18 goals, but he did it by firing only 98 shots on goal. Cogliano tied for the fourth best shooting percentage at 18.4%, with the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk and Daniel Alfredsson.

(Quick trivia question: which Oiler finished second in 2000 in shooting percentage? Answer at bottom.)

Cogliano averaged only 1.2 shots per game, and he admits that is an area he plans on increasing.

“I took a lot more shots in pre-season, and playing with Nilsson and Gagner who both like to pass, I have to focus on shooting more. In order for our line to work I will have to shoot more this season,” said the sophomore.

Cogliano has also worked on getting into the best shooting areas.

“Gags (Gagner) likes coming out of the right corner and finding guys in the slot, so I’ve been working on trying to find that soft area for a one-timer. We’ve stayed after practice lately working on it, and I just have to concentrate on hitting the net.”

With a bigger role and more ice time, it’s easy to expect Cogliano to get more shots, but will his shooting percentage stay as high? History tells us that’s a definite no.

In the last ten years, the top 30 leaders in shooting percentage rarely crack the top 30 in back-to-back seasons. Dany Heatley was the only shooter to make it the last two years, while ten of the top 30-goal scorers made it in the same span.

Here’s a breakdown of the past ten years, of how many players cracked the top 30 in back-to back seasons.

The point is that rarely does a high shooting percentage equate to being a top-end goal scorer. Over the past ten years, the only true sniper who consistently has a high shooting percentage is Dany Heatley. Alex Tanguay has been a top-30 guy four of the past five seasons, but he has never scored more than 29 goals in a season. Andrew Brunette made it in four straight seasons from 2002–06, but those three are rarities.

More often than not guys have one good season with a solid shooting percentage and then rarely match it the next season, or any season. While there are some scorers who have a career year and then never come close again, it happens much more often with a shooter’s percentage.

Many seem to look at a shooter’s percentage and gauge his success, but if Cogliano is going to shoot much more this season one has to expect his percentage to decrease.

In the past ten seasons, 10.6 of the top-30 goal scorers end up in the top 30 in shooting percentage. It is clear you would rather have a top-end scorer than a top-end percentage guy.

Cogliano wants to average two shots a game this season, and if he remains an 18% shooter then he will score 29 goals. I doubt anyone expects him to light the lamp that often, so it is easy to assume his shooting percentage will dip. If he scores 20 goals on 160 shots then he would be a 12.5% shooter.

Ask yourself what is more realistic for Cogliano to be this season: a 20-goal scorer or an 18% shooter?

(A: In 2000 Alex Selivanov scored 27 goals on 122 shots for a 22.1 shooting percentage to finish second behind that well-known sniper Mike Eastwood who was a 22.9% shooter.)

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Jonathan Willis
October 11 2008, 11:06PM
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Good old Alexander Selivanov - that was a fun season he had.

On the topic of shooting percentages, Cogliano's been the one who gets the most attention, but I also wonder if Shawn Horcoff can maintain his pace, and I wonder even more if Tom Gilbert can keep up his. I'd guess no to both.

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#2 Chris.
October 12 2008, 07:55AM
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With the low preseason shot tally the Oilers had better maintain a high shooting percentage... or take more shots.

Nevermind.

The preaseason doesn't matter.

Tonight is the night! Go OIL!

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#3 milli
October 12 2008, 09:14AM
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God I can't wait for an actual game. And ya, I'll take goals over percentage any day. Goals win games, percentages win....well, they win....NOTHING>

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#4 Tomorrow's BS Media Narrative Today
October 12 2008, 11:34AM
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but I also wonder if Shawn Horcoff can maintain his pace

Horcoff, whose shooting improved tremendously after he went to a Mexican stick plant in the 2007 offseason and personally showed them how to handcraft his sticks, has had difficulty scoring this season. Observers suggest lingering effects of the shoulder surgery that cost him the final 30 games of the 2007-08 season.

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#5 Antony Ta
October 12 2008, 12:33PM
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Horcoff, whose shooting improved tremendously after he went to a Mexican stick plant in the 2007 offseason and personally showed them how to handcraft his sticks, has had difficulty scoring this season.

The season hasn't started...? It might take him some time to get adjusted but with linemates such as Hemsky and Cole, it shouldn't take too long.

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#6 Gamefreak
October 12 2008, 04:01PM
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Antony, look at the username :)

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