Is Phil Kessel A Streaky Shooter?


Editor's Note: The Russian Machine Never Breaks but sometimes it drops by to write interesting FanPosts. This one expands on his post looking at how Alex Semin compares to a 'consistent' shooter. For our benefit, he's looking at Phil Kessel.

I wrote how all hockey players, particularly goal scorers, hit slumps. In fact, it’s possible that a skater is not actually streaky by nature, but due to some bad bounces he appears streaky. I decided to look into this further to see if Alex Semin specifically was a streaky shooter. Turns out he has more in common with what we would expect from a consistent goal scorer than a streaky one. More than one person pointed me to the great work Bower Power did in his article How Streaky Is Phil Kessel? I decided to take a look at Kessel as well.

To see how consistent Alexander Semin was I created two different simulation models, each run 10,000 times. The first simulation is going to be for Mr. Consistency. He shoots 9.5% every night and will have the same shot distribution per game as Phil Kessel has for his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs. If Kessel had 12 shots in the 10th game of the season and only 4 in the 11th, so did the simulation.

For Mr. Streaky I use two different shooting percentages. One for when he is hot (14.2%) and one for when he is cold (6.3%). To determine if he was initially hot or cold at the beginning of a "season" I flipped a coin and then assigned a 90% probability that he would stay in the state he was in game after game. In other words, he has a 90% chance of staying hot if he’s hot, or cold if he’s cold and only a 10% chance to change states. He too had the same shot distribution as Kessel.

Then I compared the numbers of three categories to see if Kessel’s actual season stats were closer to one or the other:

  1. Number of streaks where he went 3 or more games scoring at least one goal.
  2. Number of 0 goal games.
  3. Number of multi-goal games.

Per 121 Games 3+ game streaks 0 goal games Multi goal games
Kessel 4 81 9
Streaky 2 93 4
Consistent 1 95 3

In the streaky simulation, for every 121 games played we would expect to see two streaks where goals were scored in three or more games in a row and four mutli-goal games. We would also expect to see 77% (93/121) of games played where he tallied none. If Kessel was a consistent shooter, we would expect to see one goal scoring streak of three games or more and 95 out of the 121 games end with zero goals scored and four other games where he lit the lamp more than once.

In an attempt to get more clarity I decided to take it a step further an introduce another model: Mr. Super Consistency. This shooter always takes four shots a night (Kessel has averaged 4.2) and always shoots 9.5% (again, Kessel's avg in Toronto). Every night.

Per 121 Games 3+ game streaks 0 goal games Multi goal games
Kessel 4 81 9
Super Consistent 3 80 6

You tell me. Is Phil Kessel a streaky shooter? is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of