Drance Numbers is the silly research wing of PITB. While Messrs. Wagner and Mooney blog nationally and solve mysteries, Drance Numbers will look into the minutiae of quantifiable NHL data and bore you with it every Friday. Today, Drance looks at the shooting percentage of Sedin linemates.
There is much doom and gloom in this market at the moment. The Canucks are struggling through another underwhelming October, they’ve been shut out three times in ten games, and they face the up-until-recently undefeated Washington Capitals in what could be a blowout on Saturday night. Worst of all, following Wednesday night’s 3-0 shutout loss with Cory Schneider in net, Canucks fans can’t even take solace in their ritual post-loss shaming of Roberto Luongo.
On the bright-side, however, it’s October, and Vancouver’s hockey team has plenty of time to turn the good ship Canuck around. Also, the rest of this article will conveniently ignore the Canucks early season struggles, and instead focus on how unique and awesome the Sedin twins are.
In many ways, the Sedin twins defy conventional analysis. They’re identical twins who possess super elite passing skills, and have spent their entire lives playing together as line-mates. Obviously that’s an absurdly rare circumstance, and one for which there is no historical comparison.
In other ways, however, their careers to date have not been as unconventional as one might expect from the first telepathic humanoids to play in the NHL. For example, it’s not uncommon for the production of playmakers to “peak” later on in their careers, as they tend to rely more on the cerebral side of the game to generate offense. Whereas snipers usually “peak” in terms of offensive production between the ages of 24-26, playmakers tend to “peak” at 28-30. In this, the Sedins development is more conventional: Henrik won his Art Ross at 29, and Daniel won his at 30.
Last week we spoke about the percentages at play in hockey, PDO and how wildly a team’s luck can swing from game to game. In the comments, someone asked whether or not teams can sustain a higher than 1000 PDO number for an entire season, or over the course of several. The answer is yes, they can. In fact that Canucks have been well over 1000 for three seasons in a row now.
Save percentage is the most important factor at play here, but shooting percentage is a contributor as well. For the most part, the on-ice shooting percentage for nearly all NHL skaters over a long enough time frame falls within the range of 7-8.5%.* The major thing to bear in mind, is that over the last four seasons the twins are an outlier in that their on-ice shooting% is significantly higher than 8.5.
(*) On-ice shooting% differs from a shooters shot% in that all shots for his team when he is on the ice are counted as well, not just his own shots.
Anyone who has observed the Sedins play for any length of time knows that they pass up shooting opportunities constantly, in order to create better quality opportunities with their sublime works of wizardous sedinery. For the most part, their style of play is exceedingly effective, partly because Daniel and Henrik are two of the leagues best passers.**
(**) Among hockey analysts, shot location is a surprisingly controversial topic, considering how intuitive it seems conceptually. Gabe Desjardins, who runs behindthenet.ca, is among the more outspoken detractors of shot quality’s analytical utility (or lack thereof), whereas others such as Tom Awad and Michael Shuckers, whose DIGR stat has captured many folks’ attention recently, are convinced it matters.
Because of the Sedins style of play and the quality of their passing, they have been able to perform alchemy and turn a number of replacement level top-six forwards into bonafide twenty-five or even thirty goal scrorers. Sometimes it seems as if my grandmother could pot twenty-five goals on the Sedins right-wing (granted, she’s a feisty lady).
I thought it might be fun to calculate the shooting percentage of every Sedin line-mate since the twins entered the league. I was wrong. It took a long time, was arduous and my findings are ultimately imperfect.
Still, I think it’s cool to look over, and allows me to make a basic point.
While the list of Sedin triggermen isn’t exactly awe inspiring, my hypothesis is that their shooting percentage will be. Sadly, some of the information I’d require to do a more comprehensive table isn’t available and so some assumptions will be required.
First of all, I have no method of separating even-strength shots from PP shots until 07-08, which, is too bad and probably skews the numbers somewhat. To maintain consistency, I’ve included PP goals and shots for most Sedin line-mates. This isn’t a major flaw because most Sedin line-mates have also spent time on the man-advantage with the twins, with Alex Burrows being the most notable exception.
Secondly, there are also gaps in what I’m able to definitively figure out from the game-logs and boxscores. For example, in 2001-2002, the Sedins lined up with Trent Klatt for 34 games and with Todd Warriner for 13. That leaves 35 games unaccounted for, and as best I can tell the twins played with an irregular combination of wingers including Todd Bertuzzi, Jan Hlavac, Trevor Linden and Matt Cooke. It’s impossible to ferret out who took which shot while they were on the ice with the twins, so I’ve only included games in which the identity of the Sedin line-mate is clear. This means, sadly, that the likes of Jeff Cowan, Ryan Shannon and Mats Lindgren, all of whom I remember taking shifts here and there with the twins over the past decade, don’t qualify for our list.
The logic also results in us losing a few blocks of time: we lose from February through to the end of the season in 03-04 because Crawford never managed to find a good fit for the twins after Magnus Arvedson went down. He tried the likes of: Bertuzzi, Rucinsky, Naslund and Sanderson with the twins in search of a good fit and never really found one. Often the boxscore suggests that Bertuzzi would double shift and play 7 or so minutes with the twins, and 10 with the West Coast Express during any given game…
We also lose all of the 07-08 season because both Markus Naslund (who spent 45% of his ice-time with the twins) and Taylor Pyatt (who spent closer to 30% of his ice-time with the twins) were the Sedins trigger man on any given night. Though I haven’t included them, it should be mentioned that both players shot well below their career averages that season, something that goes against the trend suggested by my other findings. I also removed the portion of Henrik Sedin’s Hart trophy campaign (09-10) when Daniel was injured because I’m interested in the impact on players who play with both Sedins at the same time.
A quick observation before we get to the table: Magnus Arvedson is absolutely the unluckiest Sedin linemate ever. Arvedson was 31 years old when he played 6 games with the Sedins in January of 03-04, following the fizzling out of the mattress line (two twins and a Jason King). In those six games, Arvedson twice got injured and was unable to return in the first period, once was held pointless and without a shot and three times potted two goals. In the sixth game he blew out his knee and never played NHL hockey again, but he had 6 goals in a little over 70 minutes of ice-time with the twins. That’s some bad luck.
|Linemate||Goals||Shots||Sh% with the Twins||Career Sh%|
As you can see, the Sedins consistently inflate their line-mates shooting percentage. My favorite example is Burrows, who, previous to getting a chance with the “twin terrors” was a career 9% shooter (22 goals on 245 shots). He has now shot over 16% in each of the past three seasons which has pulled his career average up by 5%. I hope Burrows bought the Sedins something nice for their mutual birthday last month, or at the very least is going as “thankful” for Halloween.Tags: Daniel, drance numbers, featured, Henrik, Sedins, spotlight, Wizardous Sedinerie