Statistical analysis: Is Alex Ovechkin an elite scorer or just a good shooter?


One way to measure the effectiveness of a scorer is to look at the player’s shooting percentage over a sufficiently large enough sample size to minimize the influence of luck. In this case, we will look at the 80 forwards who have taken at least 1,000 shots since the 2005-06 season.


But you may have noticed a problem here: Using the aggregate shooting percentage as a method of evaluation doesn't account for shots taken during even-strength versus those taken with the man advantage.

Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, for example, scores on 16 percent of his shots overall. With the man advantage that number balloons to 19 percent, meaning he has scored on one out of every five shots he takes on the power play over the past three years. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby has converted on 17.7 percent of his shots and is fairly consistent, whether playing five-aside (18.2 percent) or with the man advantage (16.4 percent).


There's another flaw with using the aggregate shooting percentage as a method of evaluation: It doesn't account for where those shots originated. Certainly a shot from the scoring area, loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots, is a better scoring opportunity (thus carrying with it a higher shooting percentage) than one fired from behind the blue line.


The Great Eight has seen his shots per game totals drop over the last few seasons, bringing his goals per game average down along with it. Fewer shots this year could mean fewer goals.


Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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