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Having fun with shot location: Winnipeg Jets goaltenders

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Taking a look at Ondrej Pavelec, Michael Hutchinson, and some familiar names for their performance with certain shot locations.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Shot quantity is a highly repeatable and persistent skill, but so is shot location. Well... it is repeatable offensively at a team level; despite natural human intuition saying otherwise, the same cannot be said as confidently for defensive repression.

We decided to look at what shot location since the 2011-12 season says about the Winnipeg Jets and their players. Today we turn to the Jets goaltenders

These numbers have some inaccuracies and are estimates, so some caution must be taken when making inferences. Two differing numbers may not actually be significantly different. It would be wise to predominately look at the rough trends.

Ondrej Pavelec

Pav1

The distribution on the right shows the opposition's shooting percentage in particular zones relative to league average. We see here that Ondrej Pavelec allows a greater percentage of goals against per shot than league average in both the high and medium scoring chance areas. Pavelec improves further out where he performs near league average for outside shots.

There has been discussion on Pavelec's improved play, so why not look at Pavelec distinctly for this season:

Pav2

The sample is much smaller, and with smaller sampling comes smaller confidence of significance. Pavelec is showing some of the same patterns although he does seem to be performing slightly better in the highest danger scoring chance area. Pavelec still does not perform above average though and there remains the question of sustainability.

Michael Hutchinson

Hutch1

Michael Hutchinson has played well during his time as a Jet. There have been a few individuals that have claimed an easier ride and improved defensive play as the cause, but this data seems to indicate Hutchinson's performance has been his own. While Hutchinson's league leading 0.937 save percentage is unlikely to sustain for all time, his achievements have deservedly given him more starts.

Al Montoya

Monty1

The image above is just for Al Montoya's time as a Jet. For even strength Montoya seemed to stop the puck at about an average rate in each of the three regions. There were some who felt that Montoya deserved more starts during his tenure as a Jet. These individuals was out performing Pavelec.

Chris Mason

Mason1

Chris Mason's numbers look like the anti-Pavelec distribution. Mason allowed more goals than on average for outside shots, but performed near league average for all others.

Final Thoughts

The most common arguments against hockey analytics tend to fall into the "building a straw man" category. Predictive modelling is argued against as if they are displaying destinies, not probabilities. Trend analysis is argued against as if individuals and exceptions existing is ignored. Factors that have either a minor impact or unfavourable signal to noise ratio are treated as not existing.

The infamous debate over shot quality commonly falls into this type of debate. Because most (but not all) analysis relies more heavily on shot quantity, detractors of hockey statistics often criticize for viewing all shots as equal. No one believes all shots are equal, and this has been shown statistically. While shot distance and location is a highly repeatable and persistent trait offensively, shooting percentage has a very high amount of noise per signal ratio. Because of this, it makes it difficult to add large amounts of information from shot quality data.

For more thoughts on shot quality -with some links to other articles-, check out Eric Tulsky's article: Shot quality matters, but how much?