There are some interesting quotes from Sam Gagner courtesy of the Canadian Press today. Gagner has two assists thus far this season, but has refused to panic in interviews. This one is par for the course.
“I don’t really look at it too much. It’s a long season. Guys go through slumps at different points of the season. Mine just happens to be now. I feel I’m playing well and I’m creating chances. If that wasn’t happening, I’d be a little worried, but hopefully it’s a matter of time and I can play solid hockey and put some points up.”
“It’s capable of happening any year if you forget how hard you have to work. People make a thing of the sophomore jinx, but a lot of guys have had bad fourth years or fifth years. It’s just the way it happens.”
Tyler Dellow over at Mc79hockey had a really good post about the probability of different slumps/streaks over the course of a season. Basically, sometimes the puck goes in and sometimes it doesn’t, so the better way to understand if a player is producing or not is to look at underlying numbers.
One of the favorite metrics around the Oilogosphere is Corsi numbers. Corsi numbers are the total number of shots (incl. missed and blocked shots) directed at the opposition net minus the total number of shots directed at a player’s own net, while the player is on the ice. It’s a good way of measuring which end of the ice the puck is in while a player is on the ice; a player with a good Corsi number spends more time in the opposition’s zone than in his own.
The reason I mention this goes back to Sam Gagner. At even-strength last year, Gagner was –5.6/60; for every 60 minutes of icetime, the opposition managed nearly 6 more shots than Gagner and his teammates did. This year, he’s +6.1/60, behind only Shawn Horcoff.
The point here is that Gagner is actually doing a better job of keeping the puck in the positive end of the rink than he did last year. Eventually, the pucks will start going in, and the “sophomore slump” talk can go away. Final word to Dustin Penner:
“Sam’s been playing fine. Obviously, the puck’s not going in, but he’s had his chances. I think the sophomore slump thing is a cliché because it’s got a nice ring to it.”