Thursday, April 06, 2006

Unstoppable Shots

At the risk of sounding like a goalie apologist, some shots are just unstoppable. Just are. If the shooter is in close and makes his shot, or if there is a deflection of a point shot from within 20 feet of the goal, the goaltender literally doesn't have a chance.

There is a time delay between seeing something and reacting to it, the time it takes to hit a red button whenever a light goes on, for example. The average for a healthy person is .19 seconds. Reacting to sound is a bit quicker, at .16 seconds.

In track and field, if you start out of the blocks less than .10 seconds AFTER the starting gun has fired, it counts as a false start. Some interesting stuff on that here. Anything less than that is not considered humanly possible, it is assumed that the sprinter jumped the gun and got lucky that the trigger was pulled just slightly beforehand, so it's a false start.

Anyhow, through the power of arithmetic, I bring you the graph below, which shows how much time the goalie has from the time the puck is shot until it is at him. Depends on how hard it is shot of course, which is why there are four lines here. :-)


Bottom line: If you are in close and have a good NHL shot, and with the new sticks a bunch of guys can snap them at 90 miles per hour, and slap them in the high 90s, then the goalie had better be in good position because he doesn't have a hope in hell of making a reaction save.

Of course he could guess and make a save that looks almost inhuman (because it is) SEE Cujo save on Stoll in October. Of course he could also end up looking like a tit if the puck goes to the other side of the net SEE Cujo embarrassed by Smyth Slapshot in January.



The little graphic on the right basically shows the point at which the goalie is pretty much at the mercy of the shooter, or deflector of the puck, assuming that the goalie is about mid-crease, and it's a 90 mph shot. Anything inside the black semi-circle and the goalie is in full blown Allaire mode, at least he is if he is smart.

If tape games or if you have Tivo or PVR or simlar, check it out. Go 1/15th speed on the slo-mo replay. At that speed you see that the goalie hasn't actually even moved in the direction of the puck until it is already past him. Even though at game speed it looked like he just about had it.

Sometimes the shooter just makes the shot, and there is nothing more to tell. Simple as that.

11 Comments:

Anonymous roddie said...

Interesting stuff, Vic.

Is there any consideration given to the wind-up of the shot in your calculation?

4/06/2006 7:53 pm  
Anonymous lowetide said...

Fabulous stuff vic. Would you agree these things even out over time? By that I mean it's similar to figuring out range factor. After 162 games we're pretty certain Andruw Jones is going to get to a lot more baseballs than Manny Ramirez (to be silly in the extreme) even if Manny has a better game one night?

Would it also follow that if a goalie has a .878SP he's not very good if the sample is large enough?

Guess what I'm getting at here is that some people have stated the Oilers style of play contributes to their goalies poor SP this season.

Which I don't buy, but if I did this specific article would be my number one argument (now that I've seen it).

4/06/2006 8:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always been of the opinion that very often goalies are nothing more than educated guessers. I'm always amazed that make as many saves as they do, in fact. There must be enough in the player's wind-up and as they're about to shoot that will tip off an experienced goalie to where a player will shoot.

Ian

4/06/2006 8:48 pm  
Blogger Jeff J said...

Great information. Do players really hit 90mph on snaphots??

Of course, there are ways for a goalie to guess where a shot is going before it is released. Knowing the shooter, for one. Even if the shooter is unknown, there are good guesses based on the hand or even position of the shooter.

4/06/2006 9:20 pm  
Blogger Loxy said...

What are the stats like on where players shoot? There has got to be numbers that dictate where a goalie would guess, if a goalie were to guess...

But now I'm backtracking on the point I was going to make, because if it become apparent that a goalie is constantly guessing for the same (most popular shot) then players would change said shot. Do players really have that kind of accuracy in a game and when they put a puck on net, is putting the puck on net most of their consideration?

More questions than anything again here.

4/07/2006 8:27 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Loxy, I don't know, but I imagine some of the guessing has a lot to do with where the shot is coming from and what kind of position the shooter is in. I'm sure some of the guessing is pre-meditated Allaire style, but I imagine a lot of it has to do with the shooter's body language. I'm sure goalies will tell you that shooters give some of this stuff away before they shoot. Basically the goalie is making an educated guess without even knowing he's guessing.

4/07/2006 11:19 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

lowetide said...

Fabulous stuff vic. Would you agree these things even out over time? By that I mean it's similar to figuring out range factor. After 162 games we're pretty certain Andruw Jones is going to get to a lot more baseballs than Manny Ramirez (to be silly in the extreme) even if Manny has a better game one night?

Would it also follow that if a goalie has a .878SP he's not very good if the sample is large enough?


Ya, the question is how large of a sample is necessary. I mean in some games shooters just make their shots, and the rebounds go off of a leg and a stick and end up in the wrong places, and if you believe that good or bad fortune from the last game has buggerall to do with good or bad fortune in the next one ... some guys are just going to have worse years in terms of save% because that's the way the cookie crumbled. In exactly the same way that some roulette players will have stretches of 1500 spins that are far better (or worse) than the previous 1500 spins.

I remember a game early in the year against Boston. The Oilers didn't give up many quality scoring chances, but the ones they did get they buried. They made their shots. Markannen couldn't be faulted IMO. Except maybe on the OT winner, which looked like it went through him, under his arm. It was a one timer from about 20 feet out iirc, maybe even closer than that. Still it shouldn't have gone through if his timing was right.

I think that the better goalies realize that it's just shit happening and they don't let it worry them (SEE Roy), but in this case I think Markkanen let I get between his ears. He started letting more and more go through him.

BTW: I remember throwing up random observations about the craziness of NHL goaltending this season, in a post on OilFans back in January, it was in response to a mudcrutch post. Anyhow, to prove my point I cut and pasted the EVsave% numbers from mc79hockey, grabbed the top 30 guys and ran the numbers for change in save% from their career average and from 03/04. I arbitrarily gace everybody .007 grace points for the new rules and smaller equipment. Anyhow, these guys really weren't that far off the mark, not far off of the analogy of the roulete players. A bit wider spread than expected, but not much. So I knocked off the bottom 8 guys that had really crapped the bed this year ... and the result was tighter than the roulette spinners.

I've checked back a couple of times since, just a crude cut and paste check, and collectively these goalies have seen their save%'s drift back closer and closer to their career and previous season numbers. I haven't checked in about a month, but I'm sure that the trend has continued. There's a strange gravity connected to EVsave%. Hopefully, somewhere down the road, mudcrutch posts the EVsave% splits at a few times during this past season.

4/11/2006 12:07 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

lowetide said:

Guess what I'm getting at here is that some people have stated the Oilers style of play contributes to their goalies poor SP this season.

Which I don't buy, but if I did this specific article would be my number one argument (now that I've seen it).


I'm not sure that I follow. I think it would be an argument to the contrary. Shooters decide when to take the shot and when to pass or try one more move. Personally I don't see a helluva difference in the quality of scoring chance from team to team. From game to game? ... hell ya. But from team to team, usually I think it's just an unsubastantiated fan rationale, attempting to explain statistics (notably Ws, Ls and save%) that don't mesh with their own opinion.

The NHL publishes the distnce from the backboards to where the shot was taken. It only tells a fraction of the story, but it is all that is available. MC factors this in, as well as qualifying a shot as a rebound, and something else I've forgotten ... in his stats section. The overall impact on goalie save% by this metric is pretty small. Averaging +/- .002 I think, and just a few guys at the extremes.

One stat that I wished they kept is "shots that hit the post or crossbar" ... my guess is that goalies who see a jump in save% over a stretch usually see a jump in the amount that the posts helped them too.

4/11/2006 12:15 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Jeff J said...

Great information. Do players really hit 90mph on snaphots??

Of course, there are ways for a goalie to guess where a shot is going before it is released. Knowing the shooter, for one. Even if the shooter is unknown, there are good guesses based on the hand or even position of the shooter.


Well I'm not a goalie Jeff, but in some cases I think that's completely true. Hell it's even painfully obvious to me and everyone else in the stands sometimes when a shooter is trying to chip it up top or whatever. But aside from breakaways, there just isn't any time, and most shots just get released so quickly that I find it hard to believe that they can see a thing in that regard. And when you watch the positioning of the goalies in slo-mo, in the vast majority of cases they are just trying to drop into the inverted T, with their pads hitting the ice at the exact moment that the puck arrives, and trust that Allaire is right about the puck having a 90+ % chance of hitting them. :-)

.

As for the 90 MPH snapshots ... ya, I'm probably being a bit generous there. Obviously that semicircle on the rink pic is a bit smaller for Ryan Smyth than for Brendan Shanahan as well. I wouldn't be surprised if Sakic, Modano, Naslund, and a few others have wristers that get close to 90 MPH though, granted that's a pretty elite group.

4/11/2006 12:23 am  
Blogger speeds said...

That info sure shows just how important proper positioning is.

If you're out of position and can't react in time from where the shooter takes his shot, better to be the guy in position taking up 10% more area of the net that the guy who isn't.

4/11/2006 11:33 am  
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