I was thinking last night about Alexander Semin and his seemingly laissez faire attitude toward competition. It got me to thinking. Here’s a guy with 84 points, who’s among the league’s top scorers, but yet, for stretches at a time, seems
invisible pretty well contained. My query last night was: Are we right in the "Semin only shows up every few games" mantra? Is he actually more consistent than we give him credit for, and just don’t notice because he doesn’t jump through the glass on every point? Is he no different than the guys at the top of the heap?
So to that effect, I put together some numbers from NHL.com for the regular season this year for the top four in scoring (Henrik Sedin, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Nicklas Backstrom). I also included Penguins second-liner Evgeni Malkin, and for giggles, Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr. I also added the 2008-2009 Sasha.
Here’s what that yielded (and sorry about the roughly designed table, I'm still learning!):
|e||Games without a point||26||16||27||25||20||21||29||35||12|
|f||Games with a point||47||56||55||56||47||61||40||34||50|
|g||Games with multiple points||27||35||28||29||22||34||10||5||18|
|h||Games with 3 points||4||13||9||12||6||13||1||6|
|i||Games with 4 points||3||1||1||1||1||2||1|
|j||Games with 5 points||1||2||2||1|
|k||Games with 6 points||1|
|l||P/G - standard||a/d||1.15||1.51||1.23||1.35||1.15||1.37||0.74||0.57||1.27|
|m||P/G in games in which player scored at least one point (minimum 1.0)||a/f||1.79||1.95||1.84||1.95||1.64||1.84||1.28||1.15||1.58|
|n||% of games played in which player scored at least one point||f/d||64.38%||77.78%||67.07%||69.14%||70.15%||74.39%||57.97%||49.28%||80.65%|
|o||% of games played in which player scored at least a point that were multi-point nights||g/f||57.45%||62.50%||50.91%||51.79%||46.81%||55.74%||25.00%||14.71%||36.00%|
What is this telling us?
For starters, I have tallied the points per game as per the industry standard, since that’s what’s bantered around when discussing the great players. As we can see, Semin finishes tied for fifth among the league-leading players using this year’s statistics, and below his P/G number from a season ago.
Off of that metric, I wanted to get a feel for whether Semin’s scoring comes all bunched together, so I wanted to know each player’s points per game for games in which they scored at least one point. In the above chart, Semin scored at least a point in 47 games this year. Out of those 47 games, Semin totaled his 84 points. That equates to an average of 1.79 P/G in which he scores at least a point (obviously, the minimum is 1.0). Ovechkin, by comparison, as well as Crosby, each average almost two points per game in games in which they score at least a point. Backstrom and Henrik Sedin are also slightly ahead of Semin, though this year’s Sasha is better than last year’s.
Another way of looking at the numbers is this: What percentage of games did the player score a point in? Ovechkin, for example, scored at least a point in 77.78% of the games he played in. Semin? 64.38%. Semin’s number is less than any of the other leaders from this season. It’s also well off last year’s 80.65%.
Finally, I looked at the number of games in which the player scored at least a point and what percentage of those games were multi-point affairs. In the case of Ovechkin, of the games in which he scored at least one point, 62.5% of the time he scored more than a point. Second on that list is Semin, at 57.45%, which is way better than last year’s 36%.
What have we learned, then? We have learned that Semin is less likely than the leaders to score a point in a given game, and he’s far less likely to do so than last year (80 vs. 64 percent). We also know that, outside of Ovechkin, Semin is more likely than the others to tally a multi-point game when he has at least one point. We also know that his P/G is lower than the league leaders, and his P/G in games in which he does score, is less than the leaders. This indicates a propensity for a 2-point, rather than a 3-point, night.
The analysis comes up short because it examines players that finished in the top four in scoring, rather than from right around Sasha’s level. But the analysis does include Malkin, who, like Semin is a second-liner. When compared to Malkin, Semin is not as likely to score a point in a game (70 vs. 64 percent), but if Semin does score, he’s got a better P/G total. He’s also more likely than Malkin to put forth a multi-point effort in games in which he scores (57 vs. 46 percent). The numbers, especially regarding Backstrom and Ovechkin, are also a form of double-counting, because I’m sure that many of their points overlap on the same play. Semin isn’t playing with the likes of Backstrom.
Is Sasha more consistent than I thought? I’m going with no. He’s less likely than the leaders to get a point, and when he does get a point, he’s less likely to make it anything more than a two-point night.