WASHINGTON DC, DC - APRIL 23:  Alexander Semin #28 of the Washington Capitals is stopped by Jaroslav Halak #41 of the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on April 23, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

We’ve already established that Alexander Semin, pictured above refusing to pay the price and playing a perimeter game, had a lot of shots in the Capitals’ first round series against Montreal.  In fact, he shot pucks at nearly twice his career rate.


However, I had that point countered in a discussion this morning with two other excellent hockey bloggers: J.P. of Japers Rink and Derek Zona of Copper & Blue.  J.P. countered my argument by raising shot quality, arguing that Semin may have had many shots but they weren’t the same calibre of shots that he fired during the regular season.  Beyond my personal opinion from watching the game, I had no data to back up my argument, so I was going to let it slide, but then Derek reminded me that the NHL keeps track of where shots are fired from on their play-by-play sheets, and Gabriel Desjardins totals them for us.


The results are interesting.


Season Type Goals/Gm Shots/Gm SH% Shot Dist.
06-07 Season 0.494 3.16 15.6% Unavail.
07-08 Season 0.413 2.94 14.1% 31.4’
07-08 Playoff 0.429 4.00 10.7% 34.0’
08-09 Season 0.548 3.60 15.2% 34.1’
08-09 Playoff 0.357 3.00 11.9% 32.5’
09-10 Season 0.548 3.05 15.2% 34.5’
09-10 Playoff 0.000 6.29 0.0% 32.3’


It’s interesting that we see a slight negative correlation between shot distance and shooting percentage (i.e. Semin has a better SH% from further away), which is at odds with both what we would expect and with the overall NHL pattern.


That said, if Montreal had truly managed to keep Semin to the outside, to the perimeter where he couldn’t be effective, we’d surely see that in the shot distances.  Instead, we see that Semin was nearly 2.5’ closer for his average playoff shot than he was for an average regular season shot.


What I’m getting at here should be obvious: outside of Jaroslav Halak, there’s no reason to give the Canadiens team a ton of credit for keeping Semin off the scoreboard; he had plenty of opportunities, and on average they were from closer to the net than they were during the season.