Randy Carlyle Coaching Myths Part Five: Shot Distance

Randy gives this post the thumbs up. You should too. - Joel Auerbach

The Myth:

Randy Carlyle's collapsing defensive system pushes shots to the outside and away from the dangerous areas of the ice.

All season long, this was repeated time and time again. Even though shot totals were way up from previous years, we were told that it's just because teams aren't able to get the puck in close to the net and are forced to take more shots from the outside out of frustration. Just yesterday Travis Yost (a Sens blogger) posted an article on the site that shall not be named (but will be linked for the sake of this article) trying to look at shot quality and how it might be tied into shot distance. He postulated that teams with higher shot distance averages would have higher team save percentages. Turns out, there is virtually no correlation between average shot distance and save percentage. In that post you can see that the Leafs had the farthest average shot distance in the league, while also being dead last in 5v5 SA/60.

Another area where I've seen Carlyle's system defending in how the percentage of shots from 30+ for the Leafs in highest in the league. 64% of the Leafs ESSOG came from 30+ feet versus only 55% league wide. (Link to these numbers will be below, but I don't want to spoil the rest now.)

My Hypothesis:

The Leafs high average shot distance and high average SA/G, coupled with watching teams get a free reset or uncontested point shot due to Carlyle's collapsing system, are indicative that rather than removing shots from the dangerous areas and pushing them to the outside, Carlyle's system has merely added shots from the outside/points while leaving shots from under 30 feet relatively unchanged.

Using PPP user and all around nice guy ninjagreg's amazing Super Shot Search, I tabulated the totals shots for the Leafs and the NHL as a whole from 0-10, 10-20, 20-30, and 30+ feet. Then I normalized these to a per game number. The results might surprise you (but not me because this was my gut feeling):

ES Shots Per Game Average From Certain Distances (link to spreadsheet)

Team Year 0-10 10-20 20-30 30+
TML 2009-12 1.65 4.74 3.73 14.76
TML 2013 1.46 5.38 3.71 18.88
NHL 2009-2013 2.06 4.97 3.81 13.37

(In the words of Willem Dafoe "We'll start the ass kissing with you.")

The total ES shot per game difference under 30 feet between the 2009-12 Leafs and the 2013 Leafs? +0.30 shots.

The shot difference from 30+ feet? +4.12 shots.

The total ES shot per game difference between the 2009-13 NHL vs 2013 Leafs under 30 feet? -0.40 shots.

The shot difference from 30+ feet? +5.56 shots.

Conclusion:

Randy Carlyle's collapsing defensive system doesn't "push" shots to the outside; it merely adds them.

This myth is busted.

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