(Off on holiday for a long weekend, but I thought I'd leave you all with this piece for some weekend thinking. I should note that stats were taken from NHL.com before the Detroit Red Wings game - in case anything should seem strange there... in the future...)
I don't know if anyone else has been noticing, but I get the constant feeling that Kovalev is not shooting very well, and also that he may be shooting too much to make up for it.
I had a little investigation into some of the stats to see if they bore this out.
The NHL website has RTSS (real-time scoring statistics) that are very complete and include missed shots as well as shots and goals of course. From these statistics I made two simple calculations:
1) Percentage of shots on net
2) Absolute shooting percentage (% of all shots, missed or on net that are goals)
What I found was quite interesting.
The team is on average about the same as last year in terms of shooting accuracy and absolute goal rate is down a percentage point (a huge 13% if you think about it). The good news is that we are taking more shots, so goals should come.
Kovalev isn't shooting as straight
Last season, Kovalev managed to direct nearly 80% of his shots on target. And, because his shooting percentage when on target was also high, he was scoring one of every 8 times he let rip on net.
This season is quite a contrast. For one thing, Kovalev only hits the net with a 64% accuracy. Not bad in the scheme of things. But his shooting percentage is also down meaning his absolute rate is horrendous. In fact, instead of being top scorer and near top on efficiency, he is below a below average shooting option for the Canadiens this year with a goal every 16 times he lets one go - half as good as last year. That's why, even though we keep saying he is playing decent games the stats don't back it up when you look back a few weeks. There are stretches of goalessness the likes we never would have seen last year.
If you look at Kovalev compared to the league, he doesn't look like a scorer. The top goal men are mostly 75-80% reliable at hitting the net (kinda like Kovy 2007-08), and on top of that, they shoot well into the teens (%) for the most part when you include missed shots. I guess that's why Vanek and Carter have 15 goals and Alex has a mere 5 so far.
So why is this?
It's my feeling from watching there are two problems. The first is that he hasn't been getting his clean chances on the PP. For whatever reason (let's call it a rookie or Brisebois on the point instead of the 4th highest scoring defenceman), Kovalev is struggling to score on the PP. Whereas last year, he was goal every few games.
The other problem is, from a statistical point of view, that this hasn't stopped Kovalev from trying to shoot - hence more shots off target, more into the goalie.
This situation can be amended. This should be no problem for a veteran, especially - one with a few slumps under the belt. I think a little pow wow, coaches and captains re: the PP is in order. Kovalev needs to be reined in - his missed shots need to be halved at least. But in order to keep the creative maestro of the whole PP happy, I think he should be involved in devising the solution.
Top 5 Habs shooting on net
1) Dandenault 83%
2) Koivu 81%
3) Lapierre 80%
4) Begin 75%
5) S Kostitsyn 74%
Top 5 Habs absolute shooting %
1) Tanguay 17%
2) Koivu 12%
3) Bouillon 12%
4) Lang 10%
5) Begin 10%