Myth Broken: Pacioretty Isn’t Just a Perimeter Player

Photo courtesy of National Post

I tend to hear something along the lines of “Patches needs to wake up, drive to the net more and stop being an inefficient perimeter player” every game that the Habs seem to aimlessly float through or lose. It’s bothersome when fans pinpoint a single player to place the blame on. Especially when they’re wrong in placing the blame on that player.

Too many fans see zeros in the goals and assists columns after games and conclude that the player isn’t playing well. As convenient as that might be, it’s wrong to do. Fans rave about intangibles far more than I’m comfortable with, yet never judge the players on those intangibles if they aren’t producing numbers in the aforementioned columns. It’s rather fascinating.

One common theme this season has been that Pacioretty shoots too much from the outside and not enough from in close. Although, only when he isn’t producing offensively fans seem to beat that drum just because they can. Let me clarify things here; in absolutely no way, shape or form am I saying that games don’t go by where Pacioretty is a little less noticeable than he should be, because I’m not that ignorant. I know it happens. It happens to every player. What I am saying is that it’s too prominent among too many Habs fans when they’re losing.

The Habs have completed 41% of their games so far this season. Mad Max leads the team in goals (12) and game-winning goals (4), is tied for the lead in powerplay goals and shorthanded goals and leads the team in awesome celebrations – in case you missed them: Here (GIF) and here (YouTube clip).

Thanks to the very handy (yet not 100% accurate) Super Shot program at somekindofninja.com/nhl/, I compiled a table consisting of Canadiens and their shot distribution at even strength (which includes 4v4). The results will likely shock you a little. If it doesn’t, at the very least it’ll allow me to share this article’s link to anyone, at any time, who believes Pacioretty is too much of a perimeter player. I only included players who have played more than 15 games and average more than 10 minutes of ES TOI. I’ve bolded the top 3 in each column. (For some reason there are some goal discrepancies for Gallagher and Galchenyuk – it seems Super Shot isn’t quite sure where the goals came from)

Player

ES TOI/G

0-10ft

10-20ft

20-30ft

>= 30ft

Average Distance

ES Goals

Bourque

14:05

1G-5sog

1G-4sog

1G-9sog

0G-30sog

33.2ft

3

Briere

10:57

2G-8sog

1G-9sog

0G-4sog

0G-15sog

29.6ft

3

Desharnais

13:45

0G-7sog

2G-10sog

0G-6sog

0G-10sog

23.8ft

2

Eller

14:08

1G-12sog

3G-18sog

0G-5sog

0G-20sog

25.9ft

4

Galchenyuk

12:56

4G-12sog

5G-20sog

2G-12sog

0G-13sog

23.1ft

8

Gallagher

13:30

2G-14sog

3G-19sog

1G-16sog

0G-40sog

29.9ft

5

Gionta

15:15

3G-8sog

1G-14sog

0G-9sog

0G-37sog

33.6ft

4

Pacioretty

14:00

1G-7sog

2G-21sog

1G-11sog

2G-33sog

30.9ft

6

Plekanec

14:49

1G-2sog

1G-11sog

3G-15sog

2G-43sog

35.4ft

7

Prust

10:50

1G-3sog

1G-3sog

1G-3sog

0G-13sog

29.4ft

3

One thing that jumped out at me right away is that we’re in for a real treat in the future having Galchenyuk. He’s 6th on the Canadiens in total shots on goal, but at ES he’s holding the closest average shot distance, and he’s scored the most goals within 20ft. The line formerly known as the Kid Line – or the EGG Line – peppers goalies from in close. Imagine when Galchenyuk matures a little more and becomes a little stronger…devastating.

Let’s take a look at Pacioretty now. He scores from anywhere on the ice. It really doesn’t matter where he shoots from. Which I’ve been saying for years. This was the end of a long discussion earlier this season about it:

Pacioretty has the 4th most amount of shots between 0-20ft. 39% of Max’s shots at evens come from within 20ft, that ranks him 5th out of the 10th forwards. While Gallagher does have the most shots from within 20ft, the 33 shots is 37% of his even strength shots. Only 32% of Gionta’s shots come from between 0-20ft, while a measly 18% of Plekanec’s are within that same distance.

Mad Max has the third most amount of shots between 0-30ft – trailing both Gallagher and Galchenyuk – and those 39 shots equals 54% of his ES shots on goal. That ranks him 6th, ahead of Gionta, Prust, Plekanec and Bourque. Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Brendan Gallagher have taken more shots than Pacioretty from greater than 30ft, with Bourque only trailing Max by 3 shots.

In case you need visuals of Pacioretty’s shot location thus far this season, here they are. Blue dots are shots on goal, red dots are goals (inside the red squares are typically considered the “prime” scoring areas):

For fun, I also looked at powerplay SOG.

Player

PP TOI/G

0-10ft

10-20ft

20-30ft

>= 30ft

Average Distance

PP Goals

Bourque

1:49

0G-0sog

2G-3sog

2G-2sog

0G-0sog

18.3ft

3

Briere

1:52

0G-0sog

1G-4sog

0G-0sog

0G-1sog

18.6ft

1

Desharnais

1:58

0G-0sog

0G-0sog

0G-0sog

1G-1sog

53ft

1

Eller

1:50

0G-1sog

1G-4sog

1G-2sog

0G-5sog

25.8ft

2

Galchenyuk

2:11

0G-7sog

0G-6sog

1G-4sog

0G-3sog

17.5ft

1

Gallagher

2:22

2G-7sog

3G-6sog

1G-2sog

0G-5sog

19.4ft

4

Gionta

1:44

1G-2sog

0G-0sog

0G-0sog

0G-3sog

25.6ft

1

Pacioretty

2:30

2G-4sog

1G-6sog

1G-11sog

0G-9sog

26.1ft

4

Plekanec

1:47

0G-1sog

2G-3sog

0G-4sog

0G-1sog

23.2ft

3

I don’t put too much stock in all of this because of the formation the Canadiens typically use. Pacioretty is normally in the high slot because of his lethal shot, hence he having the furthest average shot distance (with the exception of Desharnais’ miserable 1 shot on the PP). Although even with that 26.1-foot average, he’s tied for the team lead in PP goals. However, Pacioretty does have the 3rd most shots from within 20ft.

It would appear that the Canadiens have a handful of other players that should be labeled with the title of “Perimeter Player” before Pacioretty. Sure, maybe he doesn’t throw his weight around as much as he could with that big frame, but he averages 1 hit per game (mind you, I know how unreliable those RTSS are on nhl.com) which is only 0.4 hits/game less than Prust.

If we’re going to criticize Pacioretty, let’s find something legitimate first. He can score however he wants to. To be honest, I think he knows he’s so good that he trolls us sometimes.

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Curtis Kinden (11 Posts)

Born in 1988. Grew up a die hard Habs fan and Jays fan. Outstanding shortstop, a great breakfast cook and the love for Rick Nash knows no bounds. Also found the love of my life. "Penalty to 76, Montreal, PK Subban - 2 minutes in the sin bin and 10 minutes on the bench." Follow me on Twitter @CurtisAATH


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