As I write this Noon Number, it is currently Thursday evening and a few hours before the game against Tampa Bay. I'm not gonna have any time to write after the game or on Friday, so this article is coming to you from a world before the Lightning game. Whatever happens (has happened?) in that game shouldn't affect the importance or relevance of what I'm about to tell you in this here article.
The number for today is "1,000,000", which is my rough estimation of how many times the "shot quality" issue is going to be brought-up by Wild fans this season. In an effort to prevent that, I'm gonna do my best to share some knowledge (from the pros) and helpful reading material (also from the pros) regarding the whole shot quality debate so that everyone can get up to speed with it.
The basic premise of the debate is this: The Wild dominate in shot attempts and puck possession, yet shoot at some pathetic, impossibly low percentage and fail to score, thus not winning as often as they should. Then, fans get impatient and look for a reason other than bad luck and good goaltending to explain the lack of goals, and usually arrive at the conclusion that the reason is that the team is employing poor shooting technique, lacks overall shooting ability, isn't getting-off quality shots from high percentage areas enough etc. etc.
I'm gonna let the experts do most of the explaining here, but what I will say is that the idea that the Wild just lack shooting ability and aren't set-up to score goals is completely insane. The team is dominating puck possession and shot attempts and have more than enough good goalscorers to have a league average Sh% at the very least. Are we seriously arguing that Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, who both had a lot of shots on goal against Toronto, don't have the ability to shoot a puck past an NHL goaltender. I think they've proved in their respective careers that they don't have any trouble in that regard. There are plenty of other players on the Wild roster who have done this successfully too. If you're arguing that the Wild are shooting 4.5% at 5v5 due to lack of skill, then I would highly recommend you step-back, take a few deep breaths and think about how silly that is.
I had originally planned to do my own breakdown of the Shot Quality debate, but, honestly, I would not be able to do a better job than the people who have already tirelessly and meticulously picked their way through every aspect of it with a fine-tooth comb and summarised the results for the easily confused, like me, to read. The most important article you could read on the subject is this one:
Seriously, go read that article right now. It explains exactly why you should not be freaking out about the Wild's current Sh% being indicative of their offensive play. This is absolutely vital reading for Wild fans as we move forward through this season. It starts off with a slightly Leafs-centric premise, but stick with it because it adds-up to some very interesting and highly relevant conclusions. I'm curious to see what people make of the stuff in this article and encourage everyone to post their reactions in the comments section here.
If you want to get really deep into the Shot Quality debate and see how the conclusions were made and what kind of studies have been carried out, then check out the articles in the Arctic Ice Hockey 'Shot Quality' series:
If you're still curious for more information, then check out, SB Nation sites, "Copper & Blues' and 'Broad Street Hockey' for more stuff about Shot Quality. Also, Google will find a ton of articles on the subject too.
I feel like this is gonna be discussed on Hockey Wilderness a lot this year, so I just want it to be clear that this is an area that has been debated and studied for a long time and in great depth, so there is plenty of material for any interested fan to sink their teeth into.
Follow me on Twitter for more hockey-ness and feel free to leave your own opinions/analysis/criticisms in the comments section.
(P.S. I won't be at home til late on Friday night, so I expect to find complete and utter carnage in the comments section. Don't let me down, Wilderness.)