Patrick Sharp shot the lights out last season and this season cannot seem to buy a goal. Many have bemoaned his production this season blaming his lack of points up on anything from aging, being overrated or just suddenly forgetting how to play hockey. None of these theories has been backed by any sort of data, so what’s really wrong with Patrick Sharp? Assuming he’s not paying the back end of a deal with the devil for his spot on the Canadian Olympic team last season, nothing is actually wrong with Patrick Sharp aside from some bad luck.
Players go through slumps where things just don’t go right for them. It happens in baseball. It happens in hockey. It happens in virtually every sport. Sharp is in a slump and having some bad luck, but don’t just take my word for it. Let’s look at the numbers.
PATRICK SHARP – ALL GAME STRENGTHS (5V5, POWER PLAY, ETC) REGULAR SEASON
Sharp missed a significant portion of the lockout shortened season with separated shoulder that kept him sidelined for most of March and April. This season, he missed over a month due to a leg injury, hence his lower number of games played. His overall point production stats are remarkably similar for these two recent seasons where he dealt with long term injuries.
At 5v5, as seen in the graph above, Sharp has registered his highest Corsi For (All Shot Attempts For) per 60 of his career this season. His CF60 is the 13th highest in the league among all skaters with at least 200 minutes of ice time. Some of the handful of players ahead of him in shot generation rates include Jordan Staal (CAR), John Tavares (NYI), Joe Thornton (SJS) and James Neal (NSH). That leaves 638 players who generate shots at a lower rate than Sharp in the league. His FF60 (Fenwick For Per 60 or Unblocked Shot Attempts Rate) puts him in 41st in the league leaving 610 players behind him. At least from these metrics, it is clear that Sharp is generating shots while he is on the ice.
The chart above shows Patrick Sharp’s WOWYs from last season. WOWYs are simply a way to look at CF% (Corsi For Percentage) With Or Without You (with or without certain teammates). Sharp spent most of the season on a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa as you can see from the time on ice together noted after each teammates name. The lower the TOI together gets, the more noise we get from random variance so the higher TOI together metrics are more trustworthy. The blue bar indicates their performance with Sharp. The red bar indicates Sharp’s numbers without that teammate on the ice with him. The green bar indicates that specific player’s numbers on the ice without Sharp.
Above are Sharp’s WOWYs from this season. Because Sharp has missed a lot of time due to injury and because he has frequently been bounced from one line to another, his time on ice with specific teammates is very low. This allows for a lot of randomness, so take these numbers with a grain of salt.
You will note that the two more recent seasons in the graph above where Sharp is seen to struggle with Points Per 60 and Goals Per 60 are the two seasons that he missed significant time due to injury. His Assists Per 60 have actually stayed very steady during that time and this season he is at his career high mark in terms of A60 (1.4). His G60 is at the lowest point of his career and his P60 was only lower his first season in the league when he played only 38 regular season games.
PDO is a combination of Save Percentage and Shooting Percentage at 5v5 while the player is on the ice. It is important to note that the sh% used is On Ice sh% so this includes not only Sharp but his teammates on the ice with him when determining this metric. PDO often regresses to 100 over time so the useful thing to do here is look for outliers, or numbers that don’t fit the normal variance for the player. Sharp’s PDO this season is the lowest it has ever been in his career. The formula for his Score Adjusted 5v5 PDO (On Ice Sv% + On Ice sh% = PDO) looks like this 89.1 + 6.8 = 95.9.
The graph above shows Sharp’s sh% (blue) and his Scoring Chances Per 60 (red) over his career (please note the 2003-04 season was omitted because of a lack of SCF60 data for that season). In 2012-13, when he was hurt for much of the season, his SCF60 (Scoring Chances For Per 60) was fairly low compared to his career numbers. His sh% of 6.7% was the lowest it has been in his career up until now. This season, Sharp’s sh% is far lower than it has ever been in his career, but his SCF60 has remained consistent with his marks from 2010-11 and 2013-14. Essentially, what this means is that Sharp is doing the same things that have made him successful in the past, but for whatever reason, bad bounces, luck, what have you, the puck is just not finding the back of the net.
The hextally chart above shows Sharp’s shooting percentage by location on the ice where the puck was shot from last season (2013-14) on the left. The darker the green, the higher his sh% from that area of the ice. On the right is Sharp’s sh% from that area of the ice compared to the sh% of the rest of the league. Red indicates a higher sh% than the league while blue indicates a lower sh%. The darker the colors, the more extreme the percentage, so darker red is much higher than the league and darker blue is much lower than the league.
This hextally chart is the same as the one above for Sharp but for this season (2014-15).
The hextally chart above shows the shot rates for the team when Sharp is on the ice (left) and when Sharp is not on the ice (right) for this season. Again, red indicates higher than league average shot rates and blue indicates lower than average shot rates from that particular area of the ice. With Sharp out there, Chicago has higher shot rates from the slot area (in front of the goal) and from the faceoff circle area on the right side of the diagram on the chart.
The team also has higher shot rates from the other faceoff circle with the except of the lower portion of the faceoff circle closest to the net on the left side of the diagram. Without Sharp on the ice (right half of the chart), all of the shot rate metrics go down with the exception of that lower left faceoff circle are (1.27 without Sharp, 1.09 with Sharp) and the top outside part of the right faceoff circle on the diagram (1.08 without Sharp, 0.812 with Sharp).
All of these graphs and charts point to Patrick Sharp continuing to generation shots despite his lack of 5v5 goal production this season. He is still taking shots from the home plate area of the ice (faceoff dot to faceoff dot and down to the corners of the goal) which tend to be higher percentage or more dangerous shooting areas of the ice. Whenever a hockey player is in a goal drought, we always hear coaches and player saying that they are sure the drought (sh% basically) will correct itself because the player is continuing to get “chances” (shots to the net). They often say they try not to worry about these slumps unless the player isn’t “getting chances”. Sharp is continuing to get chances, which is the positive in all of this.
To put this in a big picture context, the plot below shows the 417 forwards in the league with at least 200 minutes of ice time at 5v5. From left to right is the forward’s CF60 (shot generation rate) and from bottom to top is that forward’s shooting % (all at 5v5 play).
Sharp sticks out like a sore thumb on this graph. Given all that we have seen from him prior to this season coupled with the fact that he is continuing to do the things that have brought him success in the past, I think it is safe to say that there really isn’t anything wrong with Patrick Sharp. This is a slump or a drought or whatever you want to call it. It happens to players in many sports. If he sticks with what he has been doing so well for the majority of his career, sooner or later the puck will start finding the back of the net.
*data used herein collected from http://www.war-on-ice.com, http://www.puckalytics.com, and stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and is current through 3/8/2015. Thank you to them for their continued efforts to make this data consistently available to the public.