Keeping up the pace

One thing statisticians love to throw around is how “x player is on pace for y amount of points” whenever they are on a hot or cold streak. Take Jiri Tlusty for instance, he’s off to a pretty strong start by his standards with six goals and 11 points in 31 games. He is currently on pace for 16 goals and 29 points if he plays all 82 games, which would be career highs for him. Is it possible that he keeps up that pace? Sure, but it’s equally likely that he won’t because things like injuries, slumps, hot streaks, etc can happen at any time and change a player’s goals and points per game rate. Actually, a player’s “scoring pace” changes just about every game when you think about it, which is why I thought it would be a fun idea to look at every regular forward on the Canes, see what their pace is and whether they’ll finish above or below that mark. We’ll start this after the jump.

Forwards

Player GP G A Pts Goal Pace Pts Pace
Jeff Skinner 30 12 12 24 32 65
Eric Staal 31 7 12 19 19 50
Jussi Jokinen 28 4 13 17 11 49
Chad LaRose 31 8 9 17 21 44
Tuomo Ruutu 31 9 6 15 24 39
Jiri Tlusty 31 6 5 11 16 29
Brandon Sutter 31 6 5 11 16 29
Alexei Ponikarovsky 31 6 4 10 16 26
Patrick Dwyer 31 4 4 8 11 21
Tim Brent 30 3 4 7 8 19
Anthony Stewart 27 4 1 5 12 15
Andreas Nodl 17 0 1 1 0 5

Jeff Skinner: Goals & Points Under

I really wanted to go over with this but if his “undisclosed injury” is anything serious then it’s almost certain that he will finish under. There’s a good chance that he could score more than 65 points, though because he’s shooting the puck a hell of a lot more than he did last year (on pace for 276 shots on goal in 80 games), has seen his shooting percentage regress from 14 to 11.1% and he’s still on-pace for 32 goals. The team is shooting at 11.21% with him on the ice, which is slightly higher than last season but not by a lot. The percentages are still going in his favor but Skinner’s underlying numbers are a little stronger than they were last year when you factor in his tough zone starts. His high on-ice shooting percentage is prone to regression but it doesn’t appear to be setting in anytime soon, so there’s a good chance he could break his expected point-pace but if he’s out for awhile then I wouldn’t count on it.

Eric Staal: Goals & Points: Over

Staal’s horrible October might keep him from reaching 70, but he has been fantastic since then and his low point total can be attributed to bad luck. Sooner or later, the percentages will begin to work in his favor and we’ve already seen things pick up in the last couple of weeks. Staal has 3 goals and 9 points in his last seven games and I have a good feeling that we’ll see more stretches of play like that from him. His on-ice shooting percentage has creeped up towards the league average of late too but he’s still shooting with only a 6.3% success rate. Considering he’s second in the league in shots on goal (112) and is driving possession again, I’m inclined to believe that he’s going to score more as the season goes on and will have at least 25 goals by the end of the season. You can quote me on that too.

Jussi Jokinen: Goals: Over, Points: Under

Strange case with Jokinen because he’s playing a different position now, is shooting the puck slightly less, is getting a lot of tough draws and has been inconsistent as hell ever since coming back from injury. I think he’ll score more than 13 goals because while he’s shooting less, his career shooting percentage is a lot higher than 9.1%, which is where it is right now. However, his point total might end up lower than his projected pace because his on-ice shooting percentage is almost 11%, well above the league average. That said, Jokinen has been one of Carolina’s better players when it comes to creating scoring chances but the inconsistency, high PDO and revolving door of linemates makes me take the under here.

Chad LaRose: Goals: Push, Points: Under

LaRose is on pace to have his best season ever and there’s a good chance it might happen if he’s used in the top-six and on the powerplay. LaRose has scored half of his goals with the man advantage and has actually been horribly unlucky at even strength despite being one of the team’s best possession players there. So why am I taking the under here? Because LaRose has been a low percentage shooter for his entire career. His shooting percentage has always been pretty low (8.5% is his career average) and his on-ice shooting percentage at even strength has been around 5-6% for the last couple years. That could say something about his skill-set but there’s still a good chance he could set a career high in points. He’s shooting the puck more than ever before (on pace for 227 SOG) and if his career metrics are any indication, he has a great chance at finishing this year with 16-19 goals. Like I said earlier, he is driving possession well and getting chances on net. The even strength goals should come with it soon. 

Tuomo Ruutu: Goals: Under, Points: Over

With 7 even strength goals, Ruutu scoring at a higher rate at even strength than he has in awhile and is on pace for his highest goal total since 2008-09. However, he’s also getting fewer assists than he has before (possibly due to playing on the wing all year?) and isn’t exactly driving possession at a high rate either. He also has some very high variable stats as his 5-on-5 on-ice shooting percentage is around 12% and he’s shooting at 15%. Both of those are prone to regress so I’m thinking that Ruutu will end up with less than 23 goals this year. I’m thinking that his strong start will get him over 39 points, though. Seems odd for him to have so little assists when you look at his on-ice shooting percentage and career stats.

Jiri Tlusty: Goals & Points: Under

Tlusty’s not shooting the puck any better than he did the last few seasons, he’s just shooting it more. He had 53 shots on goal all last season and he’s got that many now and we’re only 31 games in. He’s creating more chances, but is still putting up bad possession metrics so I have a feeling that’s he’s feeding off his linemates. I may have to do a WOWY on him later to see how good he’s really been this season. Either way, his goals and points will likely depend on who he plays with for the rest of the season and he’s back on Staal’s line now. We’ll see how long that lasts but I’m going to take the under for now. Still would not be surprised to see him put up career highs in both categories, though.

Brandon Sutter: Goals: Push, Points, Over

I know it’s tough for Sutter to score a lot when he’s playing in a defensive role but he’s shooting at about the same rate and percentage as last season, is doing a much better job at driving the play and is getting horrible luck at even strength (6.82 On-ice Sh%). The latter will puck up soon and so will his assist total. I wouldn’t expect his goal total to get much higher than 16, though given his role and shot metrics but I’ll be optimistic and say he gets 16.

Alexei Ponikarovsky: Goals: Push, Points: Over

When you factor in Ponikarovsky’s hard-luck at even strength (4.66 on-ice sh%), the fact that he’s driving possession a lot better than last year (11.3 corsi rel) and is shooting the puck at the same rate as his career average (10.5 sh%), 15-17 goals seems about right for him. I was going to go over but he can’t seem to stick to one line and isn’t the best at producing chances. It could go either way with him, really so if he finishes under then it won’t be much of a surprise.

Patrick Dwyer: Goals: Under, Points: Push

Dwyer’s been much more effective offensively this year and that’s probably due to him getting more ice-time. Like Sutter, his role prevents him from being a big factor but he’s recently found his way up to the first line, which is subject to change. Dwyer’s doing a better job at creating offense than last season when you factor in his zone starts but I’m not sure if he’ll get over 10 goals. 20-25 points sounds reasonable for him, though.

Tim Brent: Goals & Points: Under

Brent is getting the benefit of percentages despite being one of the team’s worst offensive players, which tells me that he’ll probably end up scoring lower than his projected pace.

Anthony Stewart: Goals: Under, Points: Over

Small sample size or not, Stewart’s had the hockey gods smile upon him this year as he’s shooting the puck at 22.2% and has an on-ice shooting percentage of about 12%. He’s scored on every fourth shot attempt and that just isn’t going to sustain long-term even if he’s saddled with fourth line minutes. If he gets more ice-time then he could break his current pace but he’s put up some atrocious shot metrics with sheltered minutes so I wouldn’t count on it unless he strikes gold like he did in October last year. I’m expecting him to get more assists though which should bring up his point total a little bit.

Andreas Nodl: Goals & Points: Over

He’s on pace for zero goals and only five points. I think it’s safe to say he’ll score more than that.

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