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More on Goal-Scoring and True Talent

I thought I'd take a look at some of the quantities surrounding even-strength goal-scoring.  Again, I'm looking at the persistence of each of these rates in even and odd games, just for initial shots (no rebounds.)


Talent Regression to Mean R^2
Goals/GP 28% 51%
Shots/GP 1% 98%
Shot Location 11% 82%
Shooting % 74% 9%


So players quite clearly control the volume of shots they generate and the locations they take the shots from.  But actually putting the puck in the net is a very transient talent, so the number of goals a player scores is, as you might imagine, not exactly deterministic.

If we combine shot volume with the previous analysis I did of shooting percentage and shot location, we get the following breakdown of true and transient talent:


Percent Type
Shots/GP 39 Talent
Shot Location 14.5 Talent
Shot Location 2 Transient
Shooting % 11.5 Talent
Shooting % 33 Transient


A player's goal-scoring rate - on a per-game basis - is about 65% driven by his true talents - whether he's a shooter, where he shoots from, and his ability to pick corners from a given spot on the ice over and above other players.  The other 33% is shooters making their shots or whatever you want to call it.  Again, this analysis is restricted to initial shots at even-strength - if we included rebounds, then you'd see that goal-scoring was even more of a talent, and if we further include power-play goals, you'd see that goal-scoring was even more talent-driven (or driven by a coach's decisions regarding PP time.)

I think (hope) this resolves some of the confusion around the notion of shooting being luck-driven.  On a given shot, from a given spot, luck rules.  But when we look at the sum total of a player's skills to figure out how many goals he's going to score, true skills dominate.