Lately there has been a lot of talk about the impact that Winnipeg fan chants have been having on opposing players. Eric Staal went off the other night and scored 2 goals after being heavily razzed all game. Obviously this must be because of the chants right? What other possibilities exist?
So I figured 'Lets take a look at the stat lines of some of the players who have been harassed by Winnipeg fans.'
An easy place to start is with goalies:
Jets G/GM at Home G/GM: 2.97
Jets G/GM on the Road: G/GM 2.26
The numbers don't seem to indicate that opposition goalies get any benefit from the crowd harassing them. We have no choice but to wonder why. Is it possible that goalies have a more fragile psyche? Is it possible that the boost the Jets players get is simple too much for even a boosted goalie to overcome?
I don't know, but the fact of the matter is, there is a large discrepancy between they number of goals the Jets have scored at home vs away and it is readily apparent that opposing goalies did not benefit from the Jets fan chants.
Now, we must dig a little deeper.
Lets move on to some of the skaters, specifically superstar players. I picked out a few players that I remember getting a hard time from the fans. I also chose players that played multiple games in Winnipeg so we have a little more sample size to work with.
Oct 22, December 9, Mar 18, vs Carolina Hurricanes
The target: Eric Staal
The output: 2 G, 2 A ,13 SOG
Season AVG: .29 G, .59 A, 3.2 SOG
Expected output over 3 games: .87 G, 1.77 A, 9.6 SOG
Analysis: Over the course of his 3 games in Winnipeg, Eric Staal was clearly motivated enough to out perform his season averages. What I find surprising is that being boo'd (in front of his family) in the first two outings wasn't very motivating, yet the chant about his brother (that made him laugh) was motivating enough to coax him into his 6th two goal game of the season. There is a fine line there Winnipegers, it appears that mentioning families is a dangerous proposition.
November 17, Dec 15, March 16 vs Washington Capitals
The target: Alex Ovechkin
The output: 1 G, 0 A, 13 SOG
Season AVG: .46 G, .35 A, 3.8
Expected output: 1.38 G, 1.05 A, 11.4 SOG
Analysis: It seems Ovi isn't highly motivated by booing. This makes sense as he gets it from the crowd everywhere he goes. At some point the outside sources of motivation must wear off. The thing that I find interesting about these numbers is that Ovi WAS motivated to shoot a little more than normal, but he wasn't motivated to score at his normal pace with those shots.
November 14, February 23 vs Tampa Bay Lightning
The target: Steven Stamkos
The output: 2 G, 2 A, 6 SOG
Season AVG: .69 G, .47 A, 3.4 SOG
Expected output: 1.38 G, .94 A, 6.8 SOG
Analysis: Steven Stamkos is a phenomenal talent, especially when motivated by opposing crowds. In his first two games in Winnipeg the crowd boosted his production from the expected 2.32 points to the actual production of 4 points. This is the most dramatic boost that has been caused by Jet's fans booing. Stamkos was so motivated that he scored one third of his shots. Very impressive stuff. Be aware Winnipeg, it might be best to leave Stammer alone.
December 6, February 17 vs Boston Bruins
The target: Zdeno Chara
The output: 0 G, 0 A, 7 SOG -1
Season AVG: .14 G, .47 A, 2.9 SOG
Expected output: .28 G, .94 A, 5.8 SOG
Analysis: I am not sure if anybody likes Zdeno Chara, but I am sure Winnipeggers don't. The Winnipeg fans were really hard on Chara and he crumbled under the pressure. In two games Chara had zero points and was a minus 1. That is not good and it is well below his average / expected production. What I find interesting is that it appears Chara was motivated enough to slightly surpass his expected shot totals, but the pressure of the fans likely prevented him from getting any mustard on said shots. It also appears he was incapable of completing crisp passes. Winnipeg fans won this battle.
December 3, January 14 vs New Jersey Devils
The target: Ilya Kovalchuk
The output: 0 G, 1 A, 7 SOG
Season AVG: .45 G, .62 A, 4.1 SOG
Expected output: .95 G, 1.24 A, 8.2 SOG
Analysis: Ilya came into his games against the Jets with double the motivation of an average player, but did not experience double the boost. Neither playing against former teammates or a heavy chorus of boos could net Ilya a goal. Ilya did manage to surpass his expected shot output, but it appears that he wasn't motivated enough to shoot at percentage higher than zero. This is another battle that the Winnipeg fans won.
December 31, February 7 vs Toronto Maple Leafs
The target: Phil Kessel
The output: 2 G, 0 A, 2 SOG
Season AVG: .49 G, .54, 3.55 SOG
Expected output: .98 G, 1.08 A, 7.1 SOG
The Analysis: This one is a bit of an odd case. It appears based on the numbers that the Jets players did a pretty good job shutting down Mr. Kessel, but the fans messed it up for them. The team held Kessel to far less than his expected shot totals and assist totals, but the crowd got on him and he seemingly became so motivated that he hammered home both of his shots. Way to go Winnipeg fans. Look how much extra juice you gave him.
It is clear from the numbers that Winnipeg fan chants truly do impact opposing players, what is unclear is in which direction they are likely to be impacted. Some players thrive as a result of the booing. Some players crumble under the pressure. It appears to be a double edged sword. Boo at your own risk Winnipeg.