It's been that kind of year for Kanoobs.

Mike Knuble’s struggles are widely known in Caps circles (one goal in fourteen games), but sacrificing a goat, as he joked he might do on DC101, won’t do him any good.

Knuble had a career high shooting percentage of 19.2% last year – at age 37 – so we are seeing two mechanisms at work here: Production slowing down due to age and his shooting percentage regressing back to the mean. In English, he’s getting old and isn’t getting the same lucky bounces as he did last year.

Since the lockout, skaters with at least 150 shots in a season have seen their shooting percentage decline the following year. Those with individual shooting percentages over 19% saw a significant decrease the following year:

Shooting % Shooting % the following year Average Decline
< 19% 10.7% -3.4%
19%+ 13.6% -31.7%

If Knuble were to experience the average decline, we could expect his shooting percentage to be 13.1%, which is much more in line with his career average.

There is no doubt Knuble is getting the scoring chances, and we should see his current 5-goal season pace pick up. Unfortunately, he can kill all the goats he wants, but it won’t help bring his shooting percentage back up to 19%.

Bonus! Here’s audio of Mike Knuble’s interview with Elliott this morning.

Part 1 Part 2
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  • BobbyG

    I’m not advocating animal sacrifice to help Mike, but he’s a great guy and a great teammate. I empathize with him and hope he can get on track and cheat Father Time.

  • Sec 105

    Knuble wants to sacrifice Goat?

  • I think you’re overstating a tiny bit here. He tends to take shots from high-percentage areas, and hence, has a well-above-league average career shooting percentage (14.2%). I’d be more than satisfied if he’d get back up to that career rate (or even just within one percent of it, come to that).

  • Sean

    Aside of agreeing with AMusingFool, I have to disagree with your thesis. If luck is what Knuble needs to increase his shooting% (and not only has Knubs not been getting the lucky bounces, he’s been getting outright unlucky), sacrificing a goat might just help that. What better way to increase your luck than magic and superstition?

  • @AMusingFool It’s true Knuble does take shots from “high quality areas,” however, you would be hard pressed to convince me that after 4 straight years of ~15.5% shooting percentage all of a sudden he found out how to take even MORE high quality chances – at age 37. Plus, as a team, the Caps were EXTREMELY lucky last year, which I believe contributed to Knuble’s inflated Sh% in ’09-10.

    I’ll take the under.

  • Neil, could part of Knuble’s downturn also be attributed to the fact that other teams know how to better defend against the Capitals #1 line? From watching games this year, it seems as if they haven’t had as much space as they did last year.

  • @Ian It could be, but there is no data supporting it. If we look at “scoring chances for” per 15min of 5v5 ice time we have: Ovechkin at 4.4 with Backstrom & Knuble each tied at 4.3 apiece. Now if we look at goals converted per scoring chance we see Ovechkin converts a scoring chance to a goal 12.5% of the time when he is on the ice, Backstrom 10.3% of the time and Knuble 7.7% – good for dead last among ALL Caps forwards. In fact, take out Beagle and DJ King and he is the only forward not in double digits.

    If they are defending the top line better than last year I would expect the conversion % to be a lot closer like the scoring chance per 15 min are.

  • CDizz

    I think that goat sacrifice worked

  • Goats on the I-95 Corridor breathed a heavy sigh of relief last night.


    @Laurie – only because he’s heading west in trade.

  • @Neil, I wasn’t saying he wouldn’t regress, just that he’s likely to regress less than the league average. Hence, my saying that you’re probably overstating, not that you’re wrong. I’ll definitely take the under on 19% also.