Last week I wrote an article discussing the struggles of Dallas Stars winger Ryan Garbutt. In the article, which can be found here, I talked about the reason for his low goal totals this season. I strongly suggest you go and read the article, but I could be biased. If you're not interested in reading it, I'll give you the Cliff Notes: I proposed that the reason Ryan Garbutt has struggled this year was due to the fact that his shooting percentage regressed well past the average and that it was simply due to bad luck.
I don't know about you, but sometimes it's really hard to accept that luck, good or bad, influences elite athletes. Player X is struggling, and we start hypothesizing about all the things that could be wrong. Maybe he is facing tougher competition. Maybe he is getting unfavorable zone starts. If only the coach would use him right or put him with the right linemates.
We come up with reason after reason for why a player is struggling and refuse to believe that it is something as simple as being lucky or unlucky. It happens, and it's something the player has little to no control over.
Unfortunately, in Ryan Garbutt's case he never got lucky this year. In fact, it's been about as unlucky of a season as one can have, excluding injuries.
In the comment section of the article, I was asked if the decline in Garbutt's game was due to the fact that his line was moved into more of a checking/depth scoring role as opposed to last season when they were the second line. While it is certainly a possibility, I knew that couldn't be the case because his linemates, Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel, are on pace to match or exceed their point totals from last year and will most likely exceed their goal totals as well. If 2/3 of his line are meeting or exceeding their production from last year, we can't blame his lack of production on the role change completely.
In looking up the stats for Eakin and Roussel, I also remembered Tyler Seguin being red hot earlier in the season and a few commenters discussing the sustainability of his shooting percentage during his hot streak. I decided to go and look at just how hot Tyler Seguin was during this time and what I found was the basis of this article.
I went straight to the Dallas Stars website and looked at the young center's game by game stats. Almost immediately, a few things stuck out to me.
From October 31 until December 21, a span of 23 games, Seguin scored 18 goals and 9 assists for a total of 27 points. War-on-Ice placed him fourth in the league in points during those 23 games. In that stretch, Tyler was shooting 19.1 percent. His career shooting percentage (over 300+ games) is 11.7 percent. Every year there are several players that do shoot that high over the course of a season, but it's not something that I would expect someone to do; not enough that I would bet anything of significant value on anyways.
The following 23 games, from December 23 until February 13, saw his production drop. Being an elite player, he was still able to produce 17 points in 23 games, but it's how he got those points in relation to the previous 23 games that is interesting -- four goals in 23 games compared to 18 in the previous 23 games. A fairly significant drop-off.
I know what you're thinking. "He stopped shooting as much and started passing more, being a playmaker." You're trying to think of every reason imaginable for why Seguin wasn't scoring as much.
It's not because he wasn't putting up less shots on goal. During his hot stretch, he took 96 shots. During his down stretch, 94 shots. Seguin was doing exactly what he had been doing, he just simply ran out of luck and unfortunately regressed far below his average to a shooting percentage of 4.31 percent.
Tyler Seguin simply went from lucky to unlucky.
Since his return from a knee injury Seguin has scored three goals in five games shooting 21 percent. Five games is a small sample size to look at, but it appears that he could be trending towards the lucky side again.
A lot of fans lost hope in the Dallas Stars returning to the playoffs when news got out that the superstar center was going to miss a significant amount of time. The truth is, Seguin was 23 games into an unlucky streak and we will never know if his luck was going to change enough to carry the Stars down the final stretch.