Alex Semin

Photo credit: Dilip Vishwanat

When it comes to Alex Semin, there are fans on both sides of the fence. Some people think the $6.7 million one year deal is a fair one, while others, like me, think it is a tad too much. Part of it boils down to whether you think Sasha Minor is able to give consistent performance night in and night out. In other words, should players be rewarded even if they can’t produce consistently?

All hockey players, particularly goal scorers, hit slumps. A skater that shoots 14.5% for the season will have some nights when a third of his shots light the lamp and others that are goose eggs– it’s all in the game of hockey. In fact, it’s possible that the skater is not actually streaky by nature, but due to some bad bounces he appears streaky.

This chart is a random simulation of a hypothetical 35-goal scorer, who averages 3 shots a game and shoots 14.5% night in and night out– Mr. Super Consistency– using a 10-game moving average to smooth out the curves. Look at how streaky he appears, yet his shooting percentage (14.5%) and shots per game (3) never deviated on any given night.

consistentguy

Let’s look at it another way. This same hypothetical 35-goal scorer has a probability of going 0-for-3 on any given night equal to more than 60%, while his chances at a hat trick are less than 1%.

Goals Probability
0 61.4%
1 31.8%
2 5.4%
3 0.3%

We really shouldn’t be surprised or disheartened when our favorite player fails to light the lamp because it is going to happen almost 2 out of every 3 games they play.

Now let’s look at Semin’s actual 10-game moving average for goals scored over the last 2.5 years along with another simulation of Mr. Super Consistency, this time using Semin’s actual shots per game over that time span.

Semin SIM overlay

Not much difference. In fact, it could be argued that Semin’s trend (in red) looks more consistent than Mr. Super Consistency!

Consistency during the regular season is fool’s gold, especially when 70% of scoring is due to luck. This is why future performance, not perceived consistency, should be the basis of any contract valuation.

  • Ross

    Great post – we’re big Sasha-minor fans. His wacky talent makes the game fun and unpredictable; both great reasons for following the Caps.

  • 28ISGREAT

    Excellent post! Hoping to see #28 back on the ice against Tampa, where his offensive superpowers will be sorely needed.

  • DarkStranger44

    I had run some metrics once on Semin, comparing his consistency with Zach Parise. I did the comparison over the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons abd ub both cases computed percentage of games with a goal scored and percentage with points, whether goal or assist. In 2008-2009, Parise had a better percentage of goals scored/game while in 2009-2010, it was Semin. For both years, Semin had a slightly higher percentage of games with points. Pension Plan Puppets had actually run their own comparison, comparing Semin with various other “sniper” type players and Semin came out pretty good in the comparison.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    @DarkStranger44

    Saw the PPP post on Kesler (via JP from Japers’ RInk)

    http://www.pensionplanpuppets.com/2010/11/12/1807294/how-streaky-is-phil-kessel

    I plan on doing a follow up post to this and have a different method of determining streaks based on shooting percentage. Be curious to see what the results are, but I have been asking on twitter:

    “Age, playing time, etc being equal, if you knew you had a 20-goal scorer talent, would you want him to be consistent or streaky?”

    -Neil

  • Tim

    This doesn’t address what I usually hear as the basis for his “streakiness” – how he plays. Some nights, he just doesn’t seem to play hard, on either end. When he plays well, he is great on defense and offense. When he doesn’t, he tends to drift on the ice. Personally, I’m VERY glad the Caps re-signed Semin. I think it was too much, but it was still a good move.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    Oh Tim. I ran all your comments on RMNB through my Monte Carlo Machine. There is a 61.9% chance you will disagree with what I write, comment my analysis is wrong or comment it doesn’t address “x.” You are def one of my favs. Glad you are a reader. Don’t ever change. ::high five::

    -Neil

  • CDizz

    Tim is a sourpuss.

  • Tim

    CDizz, stop being a dick. I’m not disagreeing with Neil at all – just pointing out what I usually hear about as Semin’s streakiness. I very much like Neil’s analyses, even if I don’t always get what his charts actually show (like today).

  • Neil – RMNB

    Play nice you two.

    @Tim, this really didn’t go into whether Semin is *actually* streaky or not, just that “streaky” may not be what we thought it would be. The chart shows that even someone who is super consistent (3 shots a night with a 14.5% chance at each on becoming a goal) will still *look* streaky even though he is the most consistent shooter there is.

    I plan on a follow up post to go into whether Semin is *actually* streaky or more consistent than we think. Then we can come up with reasons why. Together. Like a family. A family that puts the “fun” in dysfunction.

  • Hackeynut

    I think the big problem with players like Semin is not that their goal scoring is up and down, that happens to everyone. The problem is rather that goal scoring is all they are good for. For example, look at the Red Wings. Datsyuk and Zetterburg go through scoring droughts. But even as they do, they play stiff defense, set plays up and generally dictate a pace of game whether they are hitting the goalie the post or the twine.

    That is the big problem on this team in general. There are too many guys that when they don’t score, they don’t contribute. That’s why a Brooks Laich scoring slump is more palatable, at least he is killing penalties and playing defense.

  • Sean

    @Hackeynut

    Actually, Semin is one of our best PK forwards. In the past two seasons he’s allowed 7PPGA in over 120min of SHTOI, and been on the ice for 5 SHGF. Reality doesn’t match many of the stereo-type and misconceptions applied to Semin. He’s excellent along the boards and a solid defensive player.

    As for the topic of the article, I’d be interested to see a comparisson of Semin’s Corsi numbers to a “consistent” players’ Corsi numbers over the span of a season.

  • Jason B

    Monte Carlo Machine,

    I’m a big fan. Have you thought of using a quasi-random number generator for Mr. Super Consistent? It might make him look even more consistent, with the same shots on goal and scoring percent.

    http://www.johndcook.com/blog/2009/03/16/quasi-random-sequences-in-art-and-integration/

    - Jason B

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  • RT

    Interesting analysis.  If I can make one recommendation however, you should consider including axis labels on your charts.