Number cruncher: Plekanec’s comparables
Looking through the NHL’s stats sheets, we find that the large majority of forwards in the league tend to score at a rate somewhere in between that of Lapierre and Ryder over the course of a full calendar year. Hot and cold streaks inevitably affect the bottom line, but only in the short term. Lars Eller started the 2013-14 season on fire, shooting over 42% in his first five games before seeing his conversion rate fall toward his career average of 11.3%. Meanwhile, David Desharnais failed to convert in his first 22 shots of the season, but has scored at a 19% clip ever since.
For his part, Tomas Plekanec is a solid, but unremarkable 11.0% in his major league career. If a player wants to score consistently in the NHL, he’ll have to rely on volume. Therein lies the Czech’s secret to success. Indeed, what makes Plekanec a perennial source of goal scoring is the quantity of pucks he habitually puts on opposing nets.
Top MTL shooters since 2009
Player GP G S% S
1 Max Pacioretty 245 84 11.0 3.11
2 Mike Cammalleri 170 54 10.3 3.07
3 Brian Gionta 263 84 10.4 3.06
4 Tomas Plekanec 329 91 10.1 2.75
For someone known more as a passer than a sniper, Plekanec is prolific at generating scoring opportunities with his shot. In the past five years, his 2.75 shots per game is in line with the shooting rates of Thomas Vanek (2.81 SPG), Anze Kopitar (2.81) and Martin St. Louis (2.72), while leading that of Patrice Bergeron (2.61) and Claude Giroux (2.45). In addition, the only Habs to be more adept at putting pucks on net than the Czech centerman have led the team in goal scoring in every single season since 2009.
A final note: Plekanec is operating near his career averages in both shooting quality and quantity this season. He is averaging 2.60 shots on net through 42 games, while converting on 11.9% of his attempts, a testament to the consistency and durability of the tenth-year NHL pro.
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
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