I know, I know I’ve beat this into the ground recently. However, with our own Vintage Flame getting into a twitter fight with Dean Molberg and Andrew Walker about Backlund this morning, I feel obliged to offer one last, brief article on this topic.
The Fan960 morning crew named Backlund one of the Flames biggest disappointments this year. And to be fair his offense just hasn’t been there. He’s also a minus player by traditional plus/minus.I don’t necessarily begrudge their perceptions of his struggles – it’s hard to escape.
We’ve already disussed how Backlund has really good possession and scoring chance numbers this year. As in, tops on the team. It’s also been mentioned that his struggles are therefore almost entirely to do with "the percentages" meaning save percentage and shooting percentage while he’s on the ice.
This is an entirely counter-intuitive, broad brush stat that probably doesn’t mean anything to most. Gabe Desjardins of behindthenet.ca and Artic Ice Hockey has a couple of graphs that might help solidify things for some:
He adds – This plot shows how much future PDO regresses to the mean relative to PDO though a certain number of shots (both for and against.) For example, PDO through the first 1000 shots regresses 87% to the mean over the rest of the season – a team with a 1030 PDO through 1000 shots expects a PDO of 1004 for the rest of the season.
The point is – the percentages tend to regress/converge to the league mean over time. This is true of teams and individuals. This is why we spend so much time talking about possession/volume of chances and shots here rather than frequency of goals (ie; percentages) – because the latter is almost always going to settle somewhere in the middle over time.
This year, Backlund’s possession metrics are excellent. His PDO (on-ice SV%+SH%) is a near team low 95.0. The former indicates he is playing well – the puck moves the right direction when he is on the ice. The latter suggests he’s been unlucky. Once the percentages regress as they do inevitably over the long-term (see graphs above!) the points will come.