Brayden Point is one of the leading goal scorers in the NHL early in the season. As of Tuesday morning, he has scored 17 goals for the Tampa Bay Lightning putting him 5th in the NHL. The one thing that stands out is his unsustainable 27.9 shooting percentage. Since the 2013-14 season, only 15 players that played at least 50 games had a shooting percentage of at least 20% at the end of the season. The top mark is 23.4% achieved by Alexander Kerfoot and William Karlsson in 2017-18.
Of the players that shot at least 20%, only Karlsson topped 40 goals and two other players topped 30 goals. For many of these players, it represented a crazy amount of luck for players that don’t shoot the puck a lot. In fact, six of those 15 players had 81 or less shots on goal, including Kerfoot. Only two players did it on 150 or more shots and seven on 100 or more shots on goal.
Seeing his incredibly high shooting percentage though made me think about who else on the Lightning may be over or under performing their historical shooting percentage. For a few players, we don’t have much if any data to go on. Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph, and Adam Erne had less than a full season worth of games between them. That makes it a little more difficult for us to determine what their true shooting percentage is. So we’ll have to skip over those players. We’ll also skip Ondrej Palat because he has only played nine games due to injury and has yet to score a goal.
All stats are as of 11/26/18 and drawn from Hockey-Reference.com.
We already saw a shift last seasib with Stamkos to being more of a playmaker. That is at least due in part to the amount of time he has spent with Nikita Kucherov. In the past, he had been paired with playmakers that helped set him up to take shots. With Kucherov, the role is reversed and he is able to take more advantage of setting up Kucherov for goals instead of the other way around.
Even with that, his shooting percentage is down further this season. Prior to 2017-18, Stamkos had never dropped below 15.5% in a season other than his rookie season when he shot 12.7%. His shots on goal per game is up a bit this year though. From 2009-10 to 2016-17, Stamkos averaged 3.35 SOG per game. In 2017-18, he averaged 2.72 per game. So far this season, he is averaging 2.95 per game. If he had the same shooting percentage this year as last year, he’d have two more goals now and if he was shooting at his career average, he would have added four or five more goals.
Kucherov is sitting right around his career average thus far in the season. Taking out his rookie season, Kucherov has managed 2.95 SOG per game. So far this year though, he is 2.54 SOG per game. It may not seem like much, but with his career shooting percentage, that half shot per game would mean a difference of six goals over the full season. Since being paired up with Point, Kucherov has started to look much more like himself. He has obviously been frustrated with his play and has indicated so himself. He knows he hasn’t played at his top level and that he has another gear to get to. He’s getting there now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he has an outburst of goal scoring soon with the assists already coming.
His outrageous numbers so far in 2018-19 have pushed his career shooting percentage up as he was at 14.8% in his rookie season, not much different from last season. With his normal shooting percentage, he would only be at nine goals so far. Without a doubt, he is way outperforming his norm and it’s unlikely this will continue. His shots on goal per game are slightly down from last year, as well as his total shot attempts per game. It’s nice that it’s happened, but this 58 goal pace is unlikely to continue. If he reverts back to his previous shooting percentage the rest of the way though, he would still end up with 39 goals for the season.
We’ve seen a much different Johnson on the ice from what we’ve seen the past few seasons. Injuries have definitely hampered him, but during training camp he also talked about how he had changed his strength and conditioning and perhaps put on too much muscle. He went back to focusing on his speed which is what got him to the NHL. His 20.8% shooting percentage is unlikely to continue since his career high in a full season is 14.6%. His two shots on goal per game is also half of what he has had through his career. His goal production would still trend upward if he got back to his nearly four shots on goal per game historical production even with his shooting percentage coming back down towards his norms.
Miller is an interesting case on the Lightning. Over his first three seasons, totaling 114 games, his shooting percentage was 8.3%. The three following seasons, he had his break out with the New York Rangers scoring 22, 22, and 23 goals on a 16.3% shooting percentage. He was consistent over those three seasons with a variation of only 0.6% between his high and low. He also had a range of 132-143 shots in that time.
Last season though, his numbers dropped to just 13.3% with the Rangers. After he was traded to the Lightning, he went on a run jumping to a 22.2% on his shooting. He also went from averaging 1.6 shots on goal per game to 2.37 with the Lightning. So far this season, his shots on goal numbers have dropped back closer to his norm with just 1.5 per game. Despite that, he is only slightly under performing his career shooting percentage. If one more shot had gone in up to this point, he would be at his usual 16.6% right now.
Gourde doesn’t have a lot of history to draw in with just one full year in the NHL prior to this year. He is a lower shot total type of player, but because he tends to take a lot of his shots in dangerous areas, he has been converting at a consistent pace. It’s good to see that so far this year, he is trending in the same direction as he did last season, though he is averaging about a third more shots on goal per game than last season.
Killorn has never been a high percentage shooter in his NHL career. He has only finished two of his six seasons with a shooting percentage higher than 10%. His shooting percentage this year is down from years past. His shots on goal per game is down only slightly, but we’ve also already recognized that he and his line mates have been a bit snake bitten early in the season. Killorn is also a streaky scorer and he could turn his numbers around in a hurry when he gets hot.
No one is going to confuse Paquette for Stamkos on the ice. But the little bugger has shown the ability to get dirty goals as well as pretty ones. You only have to go back to the hat trick he had (did you forget about that one?) during his rookie season against the Arizona Coyotes to see him put some beautiful shots on the net.
Injuries have kept him down the past three seasons. He’s had two 56 game seasons sandwiched around a 58 game season. But his four goals this year have him going in the right direction after scoring 6, 4, and 5 the previous three after scoring 12 as a rookie. His shot rates haven’t changed, but his line mates have changed a little bit too. Adam Erne has been showing well on the fourth line and Ryan Callahan appears to be fully healthy which has translated well for Paquette.
Speaking of Callahan... he’s not having too bad of a year himself. He finally looks to be fully healthy. The shoulder injury last season certainly help him with being able to shoot and is part of the reason for his 4.8% shooting last year. He may have also still been getting fully right from the two hip surgeries. To my eyes, he’s seemed faster and is playing with more jump than I remember seeing from him in a while.
Going back to his Rangers days and even his first season with the Lightning, he was getting quite a few shots on the net and producing well despite having his shooting percentage hover in the 10-13% range. Now that he’s settled into a fourth line role, he’s still not shooting a lot and just has 1.5 SOG per game. If he can continue on this kind of pace though, we’d still be looking at him adding 12 goals to the scoresheet, his most since having 24 goals in 2014-15.
Overall, you could say that three of these forwards are over-performing, two are under-performing, and the other four are just fine. There’s bound to be some regression to the mean for any of these players over the course of a season. Point and Johnson’s shooting percentages in particular don’t look to be sustainable. Miller could be in the under-performing category, but as I stated in his summary, just one more shot going in would put him right in line with his norms. I would like to see Stamkos’ shooting percentages start to tick up some more. He isn’t likely to get back to his career norms, but even getting back up around that 12.5% mark would be good for him.