Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time in his career, Blake Coleman has luck on his side
1 month ago
Who saw this season coming from Blake Coleman?
The 32-year-old from Texas has always been a solid middle six forward, often putting up just over 30 points while hitting the 20-goal plateau on two occasions before joining the Calgary Flames. However, when the Flames signed the centre to a six-year, $29.4 million deal, it wasn’t expected that he’d be producing as he is in year three.
Yet, Coleman has 20 goals and 39 points, the latter has already surpassed his career-high he set in 2022-23 in 82 games, but he only needed 46 games to do it. On top of that, Coleman is currently on pace for 35 goals, which would be 13 more than the career-high he set in 2018-19. In terms of points, Coleman is on pace for 69 points this season.
So what gives? What has changed? Why has Coleman suddenly become a key player for the Flames after producing as a middle six forward for the first eight seasons of his career? Well, Coleman is just getting lucky for the first time in his career. Let’s talk about shooting percentage.
The stat of shooting percentage is a great indicator of whether or not a player is exceeding career-highs. This season, Coleman has a 18.4 shooting percentage, while actually ranks third on the team behind Connor Zary’s 21.4% and Yegor Sharangovich’s 19%.
In terms of around the league, Coleman’s shooting percentage ranks 27th overall with a minimum of 10 games played, so he’s not getting extremely lucky relative to other players in the league. For context, Detroit Red Wing Robby Fabbri leads the entire league in shooting percentage as 30.2% of the shots he takes go in the back of the net, a clearly unsustainable clip.
However, Coleman is far exceeding his career norms, as his career shooting percentage is 10.3%. Prior to his 18.3% shooting percentage, his previous season-high was 11.5%, which he did in 2020-21 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The question then becomes is Coleman just getting lucky, or has something changed? PDO is a statistic that is the total of a team’s (or individual’s) on-ice shooting and save percentages, which is then multiplied by 10. A PDO of 1.000 is considered the average amount of luck, while anything higher is considered lucky, and below is considered unlucky.
Coleman’s PDO this season when on the ice at five-on-five is 1.022, so he’s on the lucky side. However, it’s worth noting that of his nine seasons, the 2023-24 season is the only one with a PDO above 1.000. As Flame, he had a PDO of 0.995 in 2021-22 and a 0.976 in 2022-23, so he’s been rather unlucky in his tenure so far. Relative to the rest of the league, Coleman’s 1.022 PDO is tied for 149th, so he’s not that much luckier than the average player.
This season, Coleman has 14.9 expected goals per MoneyPuck, which is second on the team. Obviously, he’s exceeding his expected goals by about five actual goals, but once again, his 5.1 Goals Above Expected ranks 27th in the league, so there are several far luckier players.
What to make of Coleman
Has Coleman suddenly become a consistent 30+ goal scorer at the age of 32? Probably not. What is happening though, is for the first time in his career he’s actually getting lucky. When you mix that with better looks at the net, you get a shooting percentage that far exceeds his career shooting percentage. Still, whether his shooting percentage remains where it is for the rest of the season or not, Coleman has had a fantastic 2023-24 season and is well worth his contract.
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