"Hit the net!"
A common refrain that is cried out in hockey rinks all over, as a scoring chance is squandered by an errant shot, missing the 4' x 6' cage.
Scott Cullen takes a look at the numbers to see which NHL players were best and worst when it came to hitting the net during the 2010-2011 season.
Looking at these results, there are only indications to be gleaned, no surefire answers, but hopefully a few trends worth noting.
The players have been divided as forwards and defencemen because, for the most part, defencemen don't hit the net as frequently; something about shooting from further away that makes it harder to find the target.
From the defencemen that missed the net most often, there's an unfortunate trend out of Dallas, where three of the bottom six in accuracy played last season, while No. 17, Matt Niskanen, played most of the year for the Stars too.
Getting an offensive defencemen, like Alex Goligoski, might change matters a little as he should get higher quality shots when he jumps into the rush, but Goligoski missed 33.6% of his shots directed at the goal too, which was middle of the road among defencemen.
Many of the defencemen on this list are of the stay-at-home variety, so there shots towards the goal may not be much more than plays to keep the puck deep in the offensive zone, but it's more concerning when power play trigger men like Michael Del Zotto, Jack Johnson, Marek Zidlicky and Shea Weber are missing the mark.
Of course, Weber tied for fourth among blueliners with 16 goals last season, so there is some risk and reward involved when he unleashes his blasts from the point.
First up, the defencemen with the highest percentage of missed shots (minimum 20 shots on goal):
On the other end of the spectrum, are the defencemen that hit the net most frequently.
While there are a number of non-descript players here, due to small sample sizes, it does stand out that an active shooter like Bryan McCabe still hit the net so frequently.
Among the Top 25 defencemen in terms of accuracy, Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson and Sabres blueliner Jordan Leopold were the only ones with at least eight goals, so it's not as though the ability to hit the net from the blueline suddenly means a defenceman is a scoring threat.
When it comes to forwards that miss the net most often, there are a couple of ways to look at the results. A player that simply has an erratic shot, or perhaps is too fine when trying to pick corners, could be one of the reasons that a player misses a high percentage of their shots.
Another possibility is that forwards that don't go to the so-called "dirty areas", like the slot right in front of the net, are more likely to miss the net; again, something about shooting from a greater distance making it harder to hit the target.
In some cases, that may be a reflection of a player's positioning on the power play, but it still doesn't reflect particularly well on Alexander Semin to be missing the net the most among forwards that received significant ice time.
These are the forwards that missed the net on the highest percentage of their shots directed at the opposition's net (minimum 20 shots on goal).
Finally, to finish things on an up note, the forwards that hit the net most frequently. Not surprisingly, guys that tend to handle the puck in close around the net like Ryan Malone and Andrew Brunette fared well in this measure.
I might also be inclined to think that Drew Stafford's breakthrough season occurred, at least in part, because he was willing to go to net more consistently.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.