On Jason Garrison, Canucks Defenders and Shooting Accuracy

Patrick Johnston
January 31 2013 12:38PM

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But can you hit the net, Mr Garrison? (photo: Patrick Johnston)

So Jason Garrison finally hit the net and he scored? Wicked, but should that counter all the awful shots he took before that? Remember how you were bleating about cutting  him from the team just twenty or so hours ago, Canucks fans?

Well relax, soldier. Here's a little truth for you about defencement shooting from the point, how often they hit the net, and whether it makes any difference in a team winning or losing.

Defencemen miss the net more than you realize. On average, about a third of the time; and that's of the shots that aren't blocked before they get to the net.

Some truths about point shots after the jump...

First of all, we need to understand what it is we are after: we exclaim frustration when the net gets missed, but is that really a good use of our energy?

To answer this bigger question, a few things need to be clarified...

1. How often do defencemen actually hit the net?

2. Are there teams that are more successful at hitting the net, and if so, does that have any relation to winning?

3. Is hitting the net an actual skill that some players are better at than others? Further, is there any relationship between taking more shots at the net and hitting the target?

4. Is Jason Garrison any better or worse at hitting the net than his teammates?

How often do defencement actually hit the net?

I calculated the percentage of shots by defencemen on each team that hit the net. I removed blocked shots from the equation - after all fans apparently get most upset when defencemen get their shots through but flat-out miss the net (not coaches though).

We can see that it's a little bit different everywhere, but defenseman seem to hit the net around 68.3 percent of the time. Think about that - defencemen miss the net a third of the time on average. Given everything we've ever learned about flipping a coin, when you miss the net that often, you are going to have stretches where you miss the net many, many times in a row

Are there teams that are more successful at hitting the net, and if so, does that have any relation to winning?

In sorting the data, I did two things. First of all, I stripped out shootout wins and counted them the same as an OT loss. Then I brought back the old 'points percentage' formula: points earned divided by points available. (This is the vertical axis.) 

Presto, we have the chart above. As we can see, it's all noise. There's sort of a trend line, but that's a pretty weak R-squared value. Even if you aren't stats-inclined, the variation in the data should tell you enough; teams that win aren't any more especially successful at hitting the net.

Is hitting the net an actual skill that some players are better at than others?

Here's a breakdown of the past four seasons, plus data from the season before last night's win over Colorado. When it comes to the Canucks, we can see that maybe one player is better than others at hitting the net. Remember, 67 per cent is our average. 

Shots on net is simply a calculation of how often the shooter is getting the puck through (still with the blocked shots stripped out), without considering whether the shooter hit the net or not.

Of course, as shown above, it's cool that Chris Tanev can hit the net, but there doesn't seem to be much importance to that skill.

Is there any relationship between taking more shots at the net and hitting the target?

That's the other thing to consider about this chart: There is a slight relationship for some players and how much they shoot. We probably aren't surprised to see that Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff are good at hitting the net and that they are allowed to shoot a lot. You'd hope that the guys who get lots of ice time can shoot. But they are still pretty average when it comes to getting shots on target.

Shane O'Brien didn't get a lot of ice time, and he couldn't hit the net. That's not shocking at all is it?

Kevin Bieksa is a bit everywhere. That data point at the bottom, that's wandering down towards Jason Garrison's awful start from this season? That's from this season as well.

Is Jason Garrison any better or worse at hitting the net?

Like so many things, we can see that last season, his breakout season, is different from his previous seasons. He got the puck off more last year and he also hit the net more. It shouldn't be a suprise he scored more. That 68 on net percentage hits the league average on the nose.

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Patrick Johnston is a Vancouver journalist. In addition to regular contributions here at Canucks Army, his work has appeared in The Province, Hockey Now and on the CBC. Check out his blog and other writing at http://johnstonwrites.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter: @risingaction
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#1 Dman
January 31 2013, 07:06PM
Trash it!
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Interesting article. Bieksa gets a by for scoring from the point on in the 2011 western final. For kicks you should throw Jiri Slegers numbers in there, that guy couldn't hit the broad side of a barn Forwards would dive out of the way of his shot usually head high. (showing my age there)

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