At the end of November, I took a look at the shooting percentage for the Tampa Bay Lightning forwards and compared it to their past performance. Now that we’ve reached the bye week and All-Star break, I wanted to take another look at each of the players to see how they’re looking. We’ll also be able to check on Ondrej Palat now that he has accumulated some games after missing a good chunk of the early part of the season with injury. We can also look at Adam Erne, Anthony Cirelli, and Mathieu Joseph to see how they have progressed with their shooting percentage since earlier in this season.
Through November: 9.9%
Stamkos has seen a bit of a pick up in his shooting percentage since the end of November. When we first checked in, he only had seven goals and was shooting well below his career norm. In picking up his shooting percentage, he’s also brought his career shooting percentage back up 0.3% since November. Since then, he has scored 19 goals in 25 games on 23.2% shooting. He has been scoring as well at even strength as he had been on the power play with 10 and 9 respectively.
One of the concerns last season with Stamkos was that he was not scoring very much at even strength. He only had 12 goals compared to the 15 he had on the power play. Of course he was balancing that a lot by racking up 41 even strength assists while feeding the puck to Nikita Kucherov. He is putting up almost a half shot more per game this year than last year. If he can continue to hold a 17% shooting percentage for the rest of the year with his shots per game rate, he’s on pace for 43 goals which would be his highest total since scoring 43 in 2014-15.
Through November: 14.8%
Likewise, Kucherov has ticked up his shooting percentage since November, though not by as big of an amount as Stamkos. He had 9 goals in 24 games when we checked in November and was averaging about 2.5 shots on goal per game. He’s added a half shot per game and is now averaging 3 shots in the past 25 games and has picked up 13 goals.
Through November: 27.9%
This one is a bit of a surprise for me. I knew that his shooting percentage was going to come down as that almost 28% shooting percentage was definitely unsustainable. His shots on goal rate hasn’t changed much, but he has come down to a 19.7% shooting. That’s still a big boost from what he was scoring previously and helped him to be the first player to reach 30 goals and 30 assists this season.
Through November: 20.8%
Johnson’s shooting percentage has also regressed a bit as I expected, but not as far as I would have thought it might come down. He has continued to shoot at a high end 16.3% since we checked in November and has added eight goals to the ten he already had. His shooting rate also hasn’t changed.
Through November: 13.9%
Miller has bounced all around the line up and has played on just about every line. The only linemates he really hasn’t gotten an opportunity to play with much are Point and Kucherov. The Lightning are so deep, that he has ended up playing on the bottom two lines quite a bit which will certainly put him in less advantageous positions to shoot the puck. His shot rate has dropped a little bit and he’s only put in two goals in the past 19 games.
Through November: 18.8%
After having a great start to the year with nine goals in the first 24 games, Gourde has struggled to find the back of the net in the middle third of the season. He’s put in three goals in the past 25 games. He had a 10-game drought, scored a goal, and then 9-game drought finally breaking that with a goal in the last game before the break against the San Jose Sharks.
Through November: 0%
Palat only played in nine of the Lightning’s first 24 games due to injury and did not score a goal in that time. Since coming back from injury, he’s gotten plenty of time playing next to Steven Stamkos. Palat has always been a playmaker, but playing next to Stamkos he has averaged two shots on goal per game in his past 24 games and has picked up seven goals. while shooting 14.6%.
Through November: 6.8%
We knew that for Killorn things would pick up. The third line with him, Cirelli, and Joseph was incredibly snake bitten to start the year. The trio was getting a lot of chances but were just unable to cash in with Killorn tallying only three goals. Since then, Killorn has picked up his shooting rate and potted eight goals in the last 25 games to get him into double digit goals for sixth season in a row.
Through November: 14.3%
The fact that Paquette has continued to only get about a shot on goal per game and maintain his shooting percentage has been impressive... most impressive. He’s only two goals away from reaching double digits for the first time since he had 12 in his rookie season. Paquette has also been able to stay healthy this season which has been a big part of his resurgence this season. He has only missed one game so far after playing 56, 58, and 56 games the past three seasons.
Through November: 10.0%
Like Paquette, Callahan has managed to keep his shooting percentage up above his 2017-18 numbers since November. His shooting rate has dropped about a quarter of a shot per game, and he has picked up two goals over his 20 games. So far Callahan has missed nine games due to injury, but it hasn’t slowed him down much when he is on the ice.
Through November: 11.6%
Joseph seemed like he couldn’t buy a goal to start the season before finally getting his first career goal in his 14th goal. He added to that to pick up four goals over four games and finish the first 24 games of the season with five goals.
Since then, he’s been in and out of the line up first with an injury and then as a part of a rotation with the forwards to keep everyone fresh and in the line-up. He is shooting an insane 29.2% in his past 17 games and brought his goal total for the season up to 12 goals. He currently sits in 2nd among rookie goal scorers.
But before you start clambering for him to be in the Calder Trophy conversation, he ranks just 12th in rookie points owing to only having five assists. The incredible rookie talents Brady Tkachuk and Andrei Svechnikov sit right behind him with 11 points and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin has 26 points. Elias Petterson is still the odds on favorite to win the Calder this year.
Through November: 9.8%
Like his early linemates Killorn and Joseph, I expected that Cirelli’s numbers would have picked up since the early season before I took a look at him. He went on a hot streak where he scored five goals in four games, but those are the only goals he has scored in the past 25 games. He has supplemented that with 7 assists though for 12 points. Cirelli is a guy I’d never expect to be a high shooting percentage player, but sitting around 10-12% makes him a very good third line player.
Through November: 13.3%
Erne picked up three goals in his first 18 games which covered the Lightning’s first 24 games of the season. He’s played 16 of the last 25 games and has picked up another three goals. Erne doesn’t shoot the puck very much though averaging a little over a shot on goal per game.
The first time we looked at these forwards, I concluded three were over-performing, two were under-performing, and four were right where they should be. I’m still not going to include Joseph, Cirelli, and Erne in these expectations because they do not have enough of a track record in the NHL to have a good gauge of where they should be shooting. But we can add Palat into the mix.
At this point, I now count five players as over-performing, two under-performing, and two are right on. Shooting percentages have a tendency of fluctuating a bit year to year, but with most of these players there is enough history to accurately judge how they are doing compared to their past performances.
The Lightning continue to have one of the most potent forward groups from top to bottom in the NHL. This group, combined with a terrific blue line collection, has kept the Lightning at the top of the league in scoring with four goals per game.