Ignorance, knowledge and shooting percentage

When looking at the impact of hockey blogs on discussion of the sport, shooting percentage is a decent example of how untrained amateurs have moved the puck forward.

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For ages – and by ages I mean the dawn of hockey right down into the 2000’s – things like “really high shooting percentages are uncommon” were not obvious. Not to players, not to general managers, and really not to the guys hammering out reports for media publications or the fans reading them.

Fernando Pisani

This is something that should be painfully clear to anyone who has covered the Oilers at all since the last lockout. Consider, for example, Fernando Pisani’s 2006 playoff run, where he scored 14 goals in 24 games on 49 shots, good for a 28.6 shooting percentage.

The management of the Edmonton Oilers gave him a raise to $2.5 million per season against a salary cap of $44 million. The equivalent total against today’s $70.2 million cap is $4 million. Guys signed to that equivalent amount this off-season included Jiri Hudler (25 goals, 50 points), P-A Parenteau (18 goals, 67 points) and David Jones (20 goals, 37 points).

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Optics may well have been involved; after all, the best word to describe the Oilers’ off-season that year was “exodus.” But Pisani was handed a four-year contract in the hopes that he would score enough to earn it. He started 2006-07 on the Oilers’ top line, with Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth. Smyth had scored 36 goals the year before; Horcoff was coming off a 73-point season. Both general manager Kevin Lowe and head coach Craig MacTavish talked about additional opportunities and additional minutes.

This is before we get into what the media and what the fans thought about Fernando Pisani. Suffice to say that optimism was widespread. The Hockey News said Pisani “should be good for 20-plus [goals]” and after mentioning him, Ales Hemsky and Joffrey Lupul proclaimed the Oilers “as skilled, young and dynamic as they’ve been in 20 years.” McKeen’s Hockey predicted 24 goals and 50 points. Pisani played 77 games, scoring 14 goals and failing to clear the 30-point plateau. It was his most productive season on that four-year contract.

The arguments in his favour at the time were pretty clear. He was going to shoot more. He was going to play more minutes, including on the power play. None of it happened, because as it turns out a 28.6 shooting percentage wasn’t sustainable. Pisani ultimately managed to score at just over one-third of that clip in his first year under the new deal.

Gilbert Brule

A more recent example is Gilbert Brule, a guy who jumped from being a sub-seven percent shooter with Columbus to a 14 percent plus shooter in Edmonton. I’m glossing over some other things, but suffice to say that when the argument was made that there were serious concerns, the guys who made it were laughed out of the building. Oilers management handed him a shiny new contract, to the approval of the majority of punditry and fandom alike.

Reasons for confidence were many and varied. Some argued that because Brule was a close range shooter his shooting percentage would be consistently high. Others argued his shot totals would increase because he was young and hadn’t been given enough time on top lines and the power play.

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The bottom promptly fell out, for a number of reasons including health issues. Interestingly, even at the AHL level Brule failed to match his NHL shooting percentage from the previous year; in the majors he failed to crack double digits in shooting percentage.

The Point

In hindsight, the unsustainability of Pisani’s playoff goal-scoring seems painfully obvious. At the time, everybody – including the experienced hockey men making multi-million dollar decisions for the team – missed the boat. Much the same can be said about Brule. Neither was an isolated incident; hockey men around the league have made and continue to make those mistakes, whether it was Toronto signing Jason Blake in 2007 or Buffalo signing Ville Leino in 2011.

Between those four guys alone, NHL teams spent more than $60 million on contracts immediately following a shooting percentage bubble. The vast majority of that money was wasted.

I bring this stuff up because people wonder why the online hockey stats crowd continues to talk about shooting percentage and other items. An Oilers Nation piece pondered that very question as recently as this Monday. The answer is this: it matters, a lot, and it’s something that still has not been accepted by many.

The reason for that lack of acceptance is obvious. The presence of shooting percentage-based analysis in hockey media started online. It wasn’t something that NHL insiders were leaking to journalists; by their actions it’s clear that an alarming number of NHL insiders had no idea it mattered as recently as the last few years. It wasn’t something that was generated by the professional media, either, and propagated in a mainstream publication.

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Instead, the importance of shooting percentage in analyzing goal scoring has only been emphasized publicly because of the work of a group of talented amateurs, guys writing on websites. It is those places where people like me have learned basic principles and contributed what we could in turn.

The value has been an increased understanding of the game, and not just by the diehards with the spreadsheets. And every time someone breaks out a project studying zone entries or analyzes translations from the AHL to NHL or evaluates how penalty-killing save percentage fluctuates from year to year, they’re furthering everyone’s knowledge.

That’s why they don’t “just sit back and enjoy” the show. The stats guys could just shut up and watch the games. But we’d all be less informed if they did.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    So Willis, what’s your opinion on Eberle’s shooting percentage? Do you think it will be consistently high, or do you take the defensible position that it’s still too early in his career to know?

    • It’s a tough discussion to have because we don’t know his WHL totals; we know he was a goal scorer and it seems reasonable to suppose he was a high percentage shooter, but we don’t know.

      Personally, I expect he’s a very good shooter. By “very good” I mean in the 14%+ range. Less than 30 guys managed more than 100 goals and a higher than 14% shooting percentage over the last CBA.

      Could he be an exceptional guy – a Stamkos-level guy? Yes, I think it’s possible. But since there’s only one Stamkos-level guy – Stamkos – I think it’s more likely that he’s a very good shooter coming off a great season.

      The longer he’s a high-percentage shooter, the more likely that he’s a Stamkos-level guy. It really isn’t impossible. It’s just so rare – and so many people wish it to be so – that we need to exercise caution before anointing him.

      That’s my view.

          • DSF

            Shooting percentage is shooting percentage in any league.

            In his final SEL season, he scored 12 goals in 49 games with a shooting percentage around 6%.

            For comparison, Canucks prospect Niklas Jensen has already scored 12 goals in the SEL in 30 games and he is only 19.

          • stevezie

            You’re telling a true story without telling the whole story. No one who wants to be taken seriously is arguing we were better off taking MPS than Kulikov. If we can go back in time the Russian is ours. That there wre better picks does not make MPS a bad one.

            You are right that MPS had a bad Swedish shooting percentage, but he produced offence anyway because he was good at generating shots, which is at least an equal part of the equation.
            The kid got picked because he had size, decent stats, a good attitude (“Canada will sh*t themselves…” is a great quote) and the single most important thing a hockey player needs: skating ability. Best wheels in the draft, they said.

            No, he is not going to be a great scorer. He is in range for his draft position though. Call me an apologist but other than Kulikov I think it is too early to close the case on any of the 10-20 picks from his year. He’ll never be a star, that doesn’t make him a bust.

  • Jonathan,

    I respect your opinion, but your constant need to say “I told you so” or needing to suggest stats guys are smarter reeks of insecurity.

    It is easy to suggest Pisani was a one-hit wonder, most assumed that. Also it was understandable why the Oilers signed him. He was a hero in the city and Pronger and others had all decided not to stay.

    Shooting % shows us what exactly? So Eberle drops from his 19% down to 15 but still scores 34 goals because he shoots more, which is likely because he’ll get more icetime, is he any better or worse of a player? If you need to jump up and down

    And suggesting you those who just “watch” the game are stupid is incredibly arrogant. I guess because I don’t immerse myself in stats I’m an idiot.

    • Yeah, never said those who just watch the game are stupid. I advise reading the post again.

      If it helps, read this first.

      The fact is that we would all be stupider without people like Gabe Desjardins and Vic Ferrari. They contribute knowledge, knowledge that’s obviously been needed.

      And if you want, take a stroll down HFBoards in the summer and fall of 2006. Read what people thought of Pisani. Dig out your copy of tHe Hockey News or McKeen’s or whichever annual you like. Heck, go back and Goole News search his name in that time period and read what Lowe and MacT said. No, it wasn’t assumed that his production was one-off. Not at all.

      Edit to add: Just to clarify – I’m not arguing that people thought he would score 40. But people did believe he should score 25.

  • To say that we’d all be stupider if there was no stat guys is one of the stupidest things I have read on the site.

    I watch hockey for the game of hockey. I don’t sit there and count Khabi’s saves, Eberle’s shots or Horcoff’s face-off wins.

    Stats are irrelevant to the game during the game and hold no influence on it what so ever. Stats never stay the same and the numbers are constantly changing.

    Stats give media something to talk about and track for the sake of news and updates and of course online knowitalls something to talk about and pull out when comparing penises.

    Stats only matter if you believe they do. Stats to me are like slutty women-no one really cares about them and they are just something to talk about with your friends.

  • Did the Oilers sign Pisani based on the expectation of a 28% SP? C’mon now.

    It looked like Pisani had turned a corner during the 06 playoffs. I don’t think anybody really took that 28% SP seriously, but it would have been reasonable to expect he’d hit for 20 during a full season, no? In that case, plus the “hometown guy not fleeing the ship” factor was worth $2.5M per.

    The reality is he had an ongoing health issue (eventualy ending his career)which no doubt had something to do with his falloff. Would a healthy Pisani have been able to perform to the contract he got from the Oilers? That was the bet, and notwithstanding the concealed health issues, a good one.

    • It looked like Pisani had turned a corner during the 06 playoffs. I don’t think anybody really took that 28% SP seriously, but it would have been reasonable to expect he’d hit for 20 during a full season, no?

      Was that a reasonable expectation?

      Why would it be reasonable to expect the 30-year old winger to post the best numbers of his career?

      It wouldn’t be. The 2006 run wasn’t “reasonable.” It happened, but it was lightning in a bottle and never should have been taken as a serious indicator that Pisani’s career was on the upswing.

      • I’ll give you Pisani was on the back side of his best years, but it would been easy to surmise he’d turned a corner and be able to reasonably produce and fulfill the contract.

        Sure there was an element of overpay regardless, but if (IF) he’d been healthy, that was a decent bet. The issue at hand was that his condition was getting progressively worse, which I’ll bet very much affected his performance.

        All I’m saying was that it’s highly unlikely that contract was based on a 28% SP. No doubt the 06 run performance was exceptional, but it could have been seen as an indicator he had more in the tank, or had found a new level – not the same as the playoffs obviously, but enough to warrant higher production the following year. More than likely a gut feeling he’d found the right combination of skill and confidence that would translate into a few decent years.

        Unfortunately, circumstances and reality were different.

        • I don’t think we’re all that far apart in our takes here. I’m not explicitly saying the Oilers saw his run and said, ‘he can do that again’ – rather I think they did exactly what you suggest, surmising that he’d turned the corner when what he’d really done was had a hot streak.

          Either way, without that playoff run he wouldn’t have been a $10 million/four years player.

          • Agreed on that point. I still think he might have actually turned that corner had Colitis not been an issue, but I suppose we’ll never know the specifics. Good article BTW Jonathan. Sparked lots of decent debate. I seriously do not know how you guys are hanging in right about now.


  • reidharr35

    i know im just some guy but i have to say im almost positive that Eberle is the real deal. you never see him take a low percentage shot from the blue line in hopes of a rebound. he picks a corner in the slot and he puts it there.

    I think Paajarvi will be a 3rd liner of size and speed. hopefully as he gets older and bigger he uses his size more.

  • RexLibris

    Regarding Eberle’s shooting percentage, I have a theory that is entirely scientific and can be backed by any number of quantifiable factors: Eberle shook Stamkos’ hand at the draft and some of his (Eberle’s) mojo rubbed off, thereby endowing young Stamkos with a portion of young Jordan’s scoring touch.

    Case closed.

    If voodoo isn’t a science, I don’t know what is.

  • Jonathan

    I wonder if part of the shooting % thingy is that it wasn’t always that way and still isn’t. That is, true shooting % stars are a rarity *in the NHL nowadays*. But go back in time before the butterfly/fitness revolution of the 90’s and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that not only shooting % talent was a repeatable skill, but that it was a skill at team level. That means back in the mean old, stacked-pad saves days, talent, a manifestation of puck skills and abilities was shooting %. Obviously, François Allaire, Patrick Roy and the rest took care of that in the NHL.

    Dunno about the lower leagues tough.

  • The Soup Fascist

    At what point does an “anomaly” become a trend? I suspect that the Steven Stamkos and Thomas Holmstroms of the world will have high S.P. for the most productive parts of their careers – for two totally different reasons. One is a skilled sniper and the other bangs in pucks from within two feet of the goal crease.

    The highest career shooting % over a career I could find – Craig Simpson 23.7%, who scored much like Holmstrom. Mike Bossy was a pure sniper who scored at over 21% – most of them beauties. A mid first rounder who was not necessarily a speedster nor could he “boom” a puck, but had a quick accurate release …. hmmm.

    At what point along Bossy’s 10 year career would the “shooting % propeller heads” of today say his numbers were warranted? Over nine years he produced an unbelievably consistent range of 20.2% to 24.7% before his final injury riddled year. Year 3? Year 9? Never? Different era but the point is the same.

    Andrew Brunette has maintained a 17.7% pace. Alex Tanguay is at 18.6% for his career. Alex “Freaking” Tanguay! Why is Eberle maintaining an 18% SP so out of reach? IMO he is more talented than these guys and he clearly values not taking low % shots and constantly works on his release. He may drop a little, but I do not see this “shooting % cliff” being an absolute certainty. He is 27% plus in the AHL this year!

    Clearly, Ebs has to do it more than one year, but I see him being a high % shooter given his talent, teammates and work ethic – for many years.

    • Alex Tanguay is an *extremely* selective shooter – and prior to Stamkos the league’s most accurate.

      Sidney Crosby’s a more talented guy than Tanguay (and Eberle, for that matter) but he’s only a career 15% shooter despite the cerebral nature of his game and his high level of skill.

      But you’re right – what is an anomaly now will be a trend if it continues. But then again, at the same point in his career Andrew Cogliano had a better statistical argument for being a high percentage shooter than Eberle does.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Eberle’s great year last year cannot be considered a trend under any circumstance, you are correct. I just see a lot of reasons for up arrows and Eberle maintaining 18% is not necessarily impossible.

        “…you’d like to outlaw counting” is a VERY funny line, by the way.

        ~Who knew a “stats guy” could have a sense of humor?~

      • Jason Gregor


        You are misleading bringing up Cogliano. He had an 18.4% in his first season and he did it on 18 goals.

        Eberle did his on 34 goals which is hard to do, since with more shots there is more chance of not scoring.

        Comparing him to Cogliano doesn’t help your case, in fact it makes it look like you are choosing the worst case scenario.

        No one needs to look at goals, points or SH% to see that Eberle is a much better scorer than Cogliano.

        And I might suggest some caution when ripping people for their smarts or lack there of. Remember it wasn’t long ago that you stated the Oilers should stay away from drafting Nugent-Hopkins.


        Stats don’t always lead one to the correct evaluation.

        • The argument against drafting RNH in the above link is well supported based on the information available months before the entry draft. I’m curious as to what about this article you consider to be lacking in smarts, as you implied. The fact that you feel as though it’s obvious who was the better draft choice so early in these players’ careers seems silly, especially after there was so much debate around who was a more complete player in their rookie seasons between RNH and Landeskog.

          • First off, I believe Gregor’s point was merely that even CORRECT statistical analysis can lead to the wrong decision. Secondly, hindsight shows us one MAJOR flaw in JW’s article… accounting for how much PP time RNH might see should he don Oilers silks. He automatically reduces the value of RNH’s PP points to zero based on the assumption he will see zero PP time. He should’ve at least dissected the odds that a first overall pick and power play specialist might get a good look on the PP of the thirtieth placed team. Just sayin’

    • stevezie

      Mike Bossy!! There’s a guy I though had a good chance of scoring everytime he took a shot. I’ve always wondered what makes him different from everyone else. Is it just a knack for shooting where the goalie isn’t? I know I’ve seen goalies so bad they’d make saves because they weren’t where they’re supposed to be. Are these the ones he missed?

      I enjoy your articles Mr. Willis. As I do Mr. Brownlee’s and everyone else contributing to this site. I’d love to see something on Bossy. I think he might have been an alien.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Brunette and Tanguay are both incredibly low volume shooters. Eberle is a mid-volume shooter. This implies that he does not “pick his shots” to the same extent.

  • I’ve brought this up before and you said you had no interest arguing a point you don’t believe in, which I feel demonstrates biased journalism and a manipulation of stats to back up what you want to show, instead of drawing conclusions from the stats themselves (I should caveat that point with the fact that I know the data suggests Eberle’s shooting percentage is unsustainable); however I am more interested in talking about why Eberle or Pisani managed to have such good years, and how to duplicate those factors so they can continue to have good years.

    It’s one thing to say this is why Eberle will not be as good, but another to say Eberle was really good, why is that, and what does he have to do to duplicate?

    Eberle did not get a ton of points because his shooting percentage was high, his shooting percentage was high because he converted on a lot of chances. Why is he able to convert on those chances, whereas Pijaarvi is not?

    Answers like accuracy, not just throwing the puck on net, putting himself in high scoring positions, playing with people who allow him to be in high scoring positions are all answers, and that I think is what we should be discussing.

    My problem with these shooting percentage arguments is they all boil down to one point: anyone with a high shooting percentage was just lucky. For a stats person, proving that someone was lucky through hard factual numbers seems like a contradiction. Whereas everyone who says this kind of reasoning is stupid and Eberle will continue to get points, is arguing he got points because of skill, and the skill around him.

    If anything, I don’t see a high shooting percentage proving someone was lucky, I think it proves someone has potential. Not potential to be lucky again, but potential to sustain their skilled performance. Thus in the case of Pisani, did he just become unlucky, or did something else factor into his skill dropping off?

    Just like Gagner’s 8 point night, was that luck? Can you look at any of those goals and say the only reason that went in was pure luck. Or do you look at it and say, that is an incredible feat and the fact he was capable of it demonstrates a potential for him to be a performer?

  • stevezie

    I don’t think most of the opponents actually disagree with Jonathan; there is just some of the most acrobatic dodging of the point I have ever seen.

    No one is saying stats will enhance YOUR enjoyment of the game; what they’re useful for is predicting the future. If you don’t care about doing this than God-bless you. I’m sure no one will fault you for enjoying the element of surprise in sports- different people come to the game to see different things.
    No one is saying that all players will shoot around the same percentage, just that even if a player spikes or drops you can count on him to return to what his individual shooting percentage is (unless age and injury are setting in). This is a fact. Mike Bossy and Craig Simpson do invalidate those predicting a drop-off for Eberle, they confirm the theory because both these players consistantly shot high-percentage.
    Eberle might be a fantastically high-percentage scorer, but we need a few more seasons to say for sure. “Watching his release” is not as reliable as looking at his career numbers.
    He sure is lighting up the A.

  • stevezie

    I’d be interested to see if there are any difference in shooting percentages between regular season and playoffs for “clutch winners” like C. Lemiuex and Tikkanen. I’d bet that they can will themselves to generate more shots, but cannot suddenly make themselves shoot better.

  • I think you’re bang on J.W. but you come off as arrogant when you finish your article by reaffirming your value to the analysis of the game. Let your work do the talking. No need to always tell us peasants how uninformed we’d be without you. I know those aren’t your exact words, but that’s how you sound to me.

    Good article otherwise… as usual. I think you may even be a little generous by suggesting Ebs can sustain a 14%+ sht %. 12-14 is probably more accurate. A career avg between 55-75 pts a season with maybe one or two 85-90 pt seasons would be plenty good.

    • It would be a lot easier to not remind people that statistical analysis is valid and advances understanding of hockey if major media and the average fan didn’t keep insisting that it doesn’t.

      Here’s a deal: those people stop saying this stuff is useless and we’ll stop reminding them just how wrong they are.

      • Stats are extremely useful, but if your reason for constantly reminding people how dumb they are is because ” they started it” than I’d suggest you be the first to man up and let the stats do the talking. No need for the “I’ll stop when they stop nonsense.”

        Stats are useful whether you call people stupid or not. So save your breath next time.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    You know DSF, it’s really annoying when you compare players playing in the NHL, or have played, and done moderately well, to some guy, usually a year or two older, who hasn’t even laced for his NHL team yet, and say he’s the better prospect.

    MPS is a good pick, he has had 2 years of NHL experience. He had 15 goals as a 19 year old, had a really rough year after that, and so now he is a dead beat, busted prospect and we should have taken Peter Holland? Who hasn’t even played a game in the NHL yet. Oh, he’s played in 4, he has a nice SH% too, what a pretty pick.

    • DSF

      No, I was merely responding to the assertion that Paajarvi was great in the SEL.

      He wasn’t.

      Due to injury, Paajarvi was granted the second most TOI among Oilers forwards in his rookie season and only managed to score 15 goals.

      He will NEVER have that opportunity again.

      MPS is a BAD pick at 10th overall.

      He’s trending like Jannik Hansen who was picked in the 9th round.

      The Oilers should have taken Dimitri Kulikov who has scored 70 points in the NHL compared to Paajarvi’s 42.

      Kulikov is a DEFENSEMAN.

      And, yes, I did say so at the time.

      • GVBlackhawk

        The 2009 draft was not a good one for the Oilers. In hindsight, there were better picks available at the 10th position. But if the draft was redone today, MPS would still likely go in the top 15. That’s not an outrageous miss.

        • Truth be told, it wasn’t a very strong draft outside of the top 5 or 6. Only 2 players drafted below MPS have more goals – Marcus Johanson for the Caps, taken 24th, and Ryan O’Reilly for the Avs, taken 33rd. I’m not sure if there were a lot of whiffs by GMs, just not a lot of elite talent available Even DSF’s much touted Kulikov is averaging .353 points per game in the NHL, .006 more than MPS, at .347ppg. And MPS has doubled that point output in the AHL, averaging .657 ppg this season. By the way, DSF, please provide your 2009 documentation that you touted Kulikov over MPS. Playing woulda coulda shoulda with the draft is the easiest game in the world.

          • stevezie

            I can’t speak for DSF, but a lot of people were bully on Kulikov. He fell because of the Russian factor.

            I think you’re making the same mistake DSF is, Doug. You’re treating the draft like a finished story. I think there are a lot of good prospects in the 10-20. No one has cemented their reputation yet (other than Kulikov), but I think any one of the 10-20 picks would be greedily snapped up if made available. (Earlier someone mocked Holland- he is lighting up the AHL at the same level Nuge was with lesser teammates.)

            GVBlackhawk was right.

          • stevezie

            You are totally right, it is premature to write off the top 10-20 (or more), and I fully agree there are stories to be written yet. Including MPS. Still, I think, when you scroll down the list, that there are going to have to be a lot of late bloomers to rescue that particular draft year.

        • DSF

          The 2009 draft is actually looking pretty good.

          It needs to be pointed out that the first round featured a lot of D in Hedman, Ellis, OEL, Kulikov, DeHaan, Leddy Rundblad, Moore Erixon etc and we all know they generally take longer to develop.

          It should also be noted that in judging drafts, we need to look at the Oilers factor, that being take the early results of Oiler picks with a grain of salt since the team pushes its picks into the NHL much quicker that most other teams.

          Normally, I don’t think you can accurately judge a draft until 5 years out but at this point I would think there are several forwards picked below Paajarvi who may surpass him in the near future.




          Johanssen (already has)



          O’Reilly (already has)




  • From the item that prompted Willis to write this:

    “I know this is a bizarre concept, but is there any chance fans – Wanye prancing around in his No. 14 jersey naked from the waist down in some California rooming house doesn’t count — can just sit back and enjoy the display Eberle is putting on right now without endlessly dissecting what we’re seeing?”

    AND . . ,.

    “For those so inclined, there’ll be lots of time for I-told-you-so when the NHL eventually gets up and running again.”

    I don’t recall suggesting Monday that shooting percentage is a statistic without merit. The point, for those who missed it, is that with all the analysis being done today, there’s nothing wrong with putting down the calculator long enough to sit back and just say, “Wow, this is really something.” Relax. Enjoy it. There’ll be lots of time for slicing and dicing the numbers later. It was directed at fans (thus my reference to “fans”).

    Apparently, that’s a vote for ignorance and a take that cannot go unchallenged by those, like Willis, in quest of knowledge.

  • stevezie

    As I read through this, I wonder why is it so hard to understand the principle here? Being a great shooter is only known in hindsight, if it was different teams would draft predictably great shooters, right?

    Eberle has had some success. The vast majority of good players don’t sustain at the same level over time. The NHL site will tell you this if you look at seasons.

    The team is lucky to have Eberle. Do you gamble? The numbers say he likely will regress to a closer to normal shooting percentage. All in? If he doesn’t, all the better.

  • Statistics are a quantified history of the game. Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. Keep handing out those big fat stupid contracts, GMs!

    No offense intended to those of us who are big fat and stupid or any combination thereof.

  • stevezie

    #56 DSF Regarding Pajaarvi

    Pajaarvi at 10 is not looking great at this point ( Still young with time to turn things around)

    Also, Kadri and Glennie went 7 and 8 and not looking so good either…

    7. Nazem Kadri, Toronto, c, London (OHL)

    8. Scott Glennie, Dallas, rw, Brandon (WHL)

    10. Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Edmonton, lw, Timra (Sweden).

  • I think we may all be a little irritable from talking about the same things repeatedly without any new games. Remember all, we’re all just discussing a sport we love 🙂

    I appreciate the article very much, but I would like to add this: stats certainly have their place as a way to understand the game on another level, but that should not come at the expense of enjoying the game. We talk a lot about things like cautious optimism, which is, statistically speaking, a good thing to have, but if we never let ourselves really enjoy the fun of the game and Eberle scoring 34 goals, whether he’s likely to repeat it or not, then there really is no point in discussing it. Enjoyment first — it’s entertainment.

    I would like to make one point about stats in general that doesn’t seem to be made much around here: stats can be extremely misleading. You can win an argument with stats, but it doesn’t mean you are right. But you absolutely can look more credible with statistical insight. Understanding how to use stats (and research in general) is imperative to draw proper conclusions.

    Many of the things we are talking about we don’t need stats to reach an intelligent conclusion. When I saw Pisani in the playoffs, it was right before I took my first stats class and I didn’t think for a second he was going to score like that again. I loved the guy and had a ball watching that playoff run. Of course I didn’t think he was going to be a goal scorer all of a sudden. He was a vet 3rd line winger who had an excellent playoff who provided some secondary scoring, but not even a lot. Why the hell would he suddenly start being a goal-scorer? I didn’t need to look at his shooting percentage to figure that out.

    With Eberle, yeah his shooting percentage will probably come down. But I don’t need stats to tell me he has a wicked shot and is a good goal-scorer, probably one of the best in the league. Anyone who watches hockey can see that. So as long as we’re still able to enjoy that without freaking out about sustainable percentages, it’s all good.

    Happy holidays to everyone at ON!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I honestly don’t know what the deal is with Brule and why he is brought up in this convo. He was young and had potential. It’s not like he dropped for 4%. He dropped to a respectable 9.7%, which is a similar number to 30 goal scorer Phil Kessel or numerous 20 goal scorers. His problem was injuries, not his shooting percentage.

    Why isn’t Jones brought up here? Guys sure like to say I told you so with Brule, but where’s Jones in his high shooting percentage and won’t score 15+ goals again?

    Even Pisani, Lowe had no choice but to sign him. How do you let Pisani go when everyone else is walking away from the team?

    You might think that you can put a magically team together on paper Willis, but the fact remains there is a lot more to hockey than stats and trying to prove your point for the 100th time.

  • OilClog

    Any comparison of Cogliano and Eberle is ridiculous.

    Eberle is a pure sniper, he’s going to always have a higher then normal sp%, when you’re playing with 1st overall talent on a nightly basis I tend to believe its a bit of a shot at them too to suggest a player of Eberle’s skill is just going to drop off and not continue to improve.

    For years now on different stages, Eberle has proven time and time again he scores and get points.. Stats are great, so is accepting what you see and looking at the glass as its half full instead of half empty. He isn’t a fluke, he isn’t done becoming the player he will be, the sky is the limits.

    Cogliano and Eberle comparisons.. What the hell is happening to us.

    Could you imagine a world where RNH is in New Jersey.. Damn you Willis.

  • DSF

    Yay, another article that comes off as seeking validation and legitimacy.

    I have no idea what a Vic Farrari has to offer but Gabe Desjardins’ stuff is not without it’s flaws. It’s a nice feather in his cap if teams or people are using his database as a resource but if they are using ONLY his data base to reach conclusions then they probably aren’t really advancing their goal.

    I think this article/debate is a great summary why people lose patience with the online stats crowd.

    The stats tend to get over emphasized – such as reducing all of the encompassing problems of a career, right through to the managments role, to a single statistic in shooting percentage.

    This is followed up with the suggestion that without the new emphasis on statistics – and the subsequent better understanding of what’s going on – the game is a lesser experience.

    To finally admitting that despite all this knowledge it’s not a crystal ball into the future. With that admission you almost have wonder what the point even is.

    There is no doubt a place for stats and analysis but I think for the vast majority of fans simply enjoying the ride still trumps all.

  • Craiger


    first let me say that i am a huge fan of oilersnation, and indeed hockey in general. this is a great blog with some talented writers, and as die-hard fans like me scavenge the internets for any tidbits of hockey news that isn’t lockout related, the nation has done a fantastic job of creating content in a situation in which there is often little to report.

    i’ve been a fan of the nation since it opened its virtual doors, and have visited the site daily for many years. over that time i’ve come to find a great respect for some of the contributors, and less for others. sadly, i have to tell you that you have of late fallen into the latter pile.

    the nation is a place to share opinions and talk hockey, and any sports fan knows that the passion of the game is not contained solely to the ice/field/court/diamond, but spills over into basements, bars and blogs. i respect that. presenting an opinion and using data or observations to back it up is what the whole thing is about – but when you start acting like a whiny, condescending brat and resorting to name-calling and insults to make your point, the words lose their effectiveness and instead the focus becomes the whiny, condescending brat behind the words.

    the readers of the nation are not idiots. just because we don’t all keep spreadsheets loaded full of data and run statistical analyses and regression models on left handed face-off winning percentages in third period neutral zone face-offs on the road on odd numbered days in january doesn’t mean you are the only person here who understands the game. some of us played it, and can glean as much from watching a sequence as any mathematician can with all the statistics in the world. i appreciate the numbers approach, and appreciate the evidence used to back up your opinions… i just wish you would present those opinions as such rather than with the superfluous superior attitude and patronizing tone. it doesn’t make you right. it just makes you a know-it-all asshat.

    you’re better than that. have some respect for your readers, we’re not all the idiots you seem to think.

    • I’m astounded by the notion that I’ve insulted anybody in this piece. Really I am.

      Even in the initial draft, you’ll note that I say “we’d all be stupider” – I’m including myself because the only reason I know to look for things like zonestarts is because somebody taught me to look for them.

      No offense was intended, and re-reading the piece for the dozenth time I’m at a loss as to why it’s being taken.

      • I’m with ya, JW. You bring up a valid point. An in-depth analysis reveals more information, that’s all there is to it. No, SH% isn’t the be-all-end-all, absolute determiner in a player’s success, but I do believe that it is a real and necessary part of a scouting report that can be useful in analyzing a player.

        Of course, I’d rather be reading about actual hockey, but given the lack of available content, this will have to suffice. I was actually quite surprised when people took offence. JW wasn’t tooting his own horn here. I didn’t think any arrogance was present in the article at all.

      • GVBlackhawk

        That’s right. You just keep yer fancy edjucatin’ to yerself.

        Seriously though, you can’t open your mouth these days without offending somebody. Reality is, statistics are very useful because nobody can remember all of the nuances that happen throughout a game. Our memories are not that good. There is nothing wrong with trying to educate the masses. People don’t like change and all of the advanced stats stuff is pretty new.

        In addition, some less intelligent folk get offended simply because they don’t understand it.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I have no idea how someone could take offense to this piece. I did not find it whiny or condescending at all.

      Also, looks like someone learned to prop themselves….

  • @ Craiger

    Although I respect the tone of your comment I think you have absolutely missed the boat on the article. At no point did Willis comment that he understood, appreciated or loved the game more because he is a stats guy, he only put forth the opinion that stats, as a whole, can further our understanding of the game.

    Not our love of the game, how much we appreciate it, or how much value we give back to it. But stats can allow us to see a different picture.

    If you just watch the game and read the sports page because you love the game, that’s fantastic. But if you want to delve deeper then there are lot of great stats guys, as well as dedicated readers, out there with varying opinions and you can choose to agree or disagree.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    The people-who-took-offense-to-this-article percentage is at 18.5%.Personally I missed the part where we should feel insulted, but Im pretty sure Willis’ next article will naturally regress towards the mean. The WJC is about to begin and it will finally provide the Columnists here some easy zone starts and softer minutes. 18.5% is not sustainable over a long period of time. Chin up JW.