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The luck factor

Eric Staal has been on a tear for Carolina this season and sits tied for fourth in NHL scoring with 28 points in 22 games. (Photo by Phil Ellsworth/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Eric Staal has been on a tear for Carolina this season and sits tied for fourth in NHL scoring with 28 points in 22 games. (Photo by Phil Ellsworth/NHLI via Getty Images)

When a player deviates drastically from their expected production range, all too often their fantasy owner will just shrug and be thankful for the good luck they do have. Or they will curse their bad luck and dump the player. Not enough poolies take a look at why the player is doing what he's doing.

This becomes easier thanks to advanced statistics. But it doesn't even need to be as complicated as that. You can just look at one advanced statistic and get a decent idea of what is happening. The PDO stat takes the 5-on-5 on-ice shooting percentage of the player and his teammates when he is on the ice (at even strength) and adds it to the on-ice save percentage. This will measure how much "luck" has played a role. If given a large enough sample size, the shot percentage of a team will approach 8%. So it goes without saying that if the teammates around a given player are shooting at a 15% clip, over time the amount of pucks that go in the net will slow down. By the same token, a number like 6% would probably indicate an upcoming increase in production. The same goes for the other side of the puck - the save percentage.

So while PDO may measure a player's good or bad "luck" in his complete game, there is only one portion of the PDO that should interest poolies - the on-ice team shooting percentage.

Thanks to behindthenet.ca, this information is readily available. If you take a moment to review some of the players with extreme values in the shooting percentage column, you can draw some interesting conclusions. Here are the notables that jumped out at me:

Matt Frattin, Toronto Maple Leafs

Frattin had seven goals in 10 games before getting injured, but Toronto's shooting percentage while he was on the ice was an astounding 20%. That's obviously unsustainable. Much of that is Frattin himself, who has his seven goals thanks to just 18 shots. But regardless, it's a rate that can't be sustained so he is almost certainly over-producing.

Chris Kreider, New York Rangers

Although he has just two points in 11 games, he's lagged despite the fact his team is producing when he's on the ice. The Rangers are scoring on 16.67% of their shots when Kreider is on the ice. And he's still not getting points? What will happen when the shot percentage slides back to the normal range?

Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames

At 15.12%, Hudler's teammates are getting the bounces when he is on the ice. Hudler has 16 points in 18 games, which is probably a little high. Although the average shooting percentage of 8% can be bumped up a little when we're talking about a team's first line, "a little" would mean bumping it to 10%...not 15%.

Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

Staal is having a fantastic year thanks in part to having fantastic linemates. Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty are equally high in PDO, but there’s no need to discuss each member of the line - generally if one player on a line has a high on-ice team shot percentage, then naturally his linemates will have the same number. Staal's number is 14.79% and he's playing like a 120-point player right now. That's obviously absurd - 90 points is a more believable number and this stat bears that out. A 90-point pace would probably push that number down from 14.79% to about 10%. That's about right for a star first liner.

Eric Fehr, Washington Capitals

Fehr has 11 points in his past 10 games. He's definitely a better player than he's shown over the years - but he's not that good. Since his team shoots at a 13.41% clip around him, a decline is on the way.

Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens

The hot-shot rookie had a blazing month of February, but his on-ice team shot percentage is 13.33%. I had him pegged as a potential second-liner who would top out at 70 points, but will likely have several seasons of 55 before he gets there. This number would bear that out.

And we can look at this from the other side of the coin, too. Here are some players hit by "bad luck." That is to say, the team around each of these guys couldn't hit the broad side of a barn when he's on the ice…

Bobby Butler, Nashville Predators

Butler has played nearly 140 minutes of hockey this season and neither he nor his teammates have been able to score an even strength goal when he is on the ice. What are the statistical odds of that? Hell, you and I could be on the ice for 140 minutes and at some point there will be a goal or three. Now with a new team, I'm eager to see if Butler gets some bounces. In case you need me to do that math for you, his on-ice team shot percentage is…0.0. And yes, that's too low.

Charlie Coyle, Minnesota Wild

Don't completely blame Coyle for the slow start to his NHL career. When his teammates around him score on just 3.33% of their shots, he's going to have trouble picking up points. If the coach gives him enough time, the points will come.

Rich Peverley, Boston Bruins

While the "luck" factor won't solve everything for Peverley, it will certainly help. But he could use some other things such as power play time and better linemates. His number sits at 4.55%.

Olli Jokinen, Winnipeg Jets

His team shoots 4.79% around him - and that's playing with Evander Kane on nearly 40% of his shifts. Something is bound to give here.

Jakob Silfverberg, Ottawa Senators

The Senators as a team aren't scoring a lot of goals, with Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson being sidelined. So perhaps reducing expectations from that average of 8% down to something like 7% would be fair. But Silfverberg, under those adjusted standards, is still "unlucky" at 5.13%. His own shooting percentage is about 4.8%, so that overall number is on him as much as his teammates. Hard to get assists when your teammates are misfiring. Equally hard to score goals when your own stick misses the mark as well.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com or follow him on Twitter at @DobberHockey.

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