How Tomas Plekanec scored his goals in 2013 - Part 3 - Analysis

USA TODAY Sports

Plekanec was actually the inspiration behind this project last season, as his season without wingers produced his first sub-20 goal season in a long time. Let's look at this year's goals and compare them to last year.

Tomas Plekanec was back up to his usual goalscoring pace this year, a 24 goals per 82 games pace up from his 17 last season.

Goals by situation
Goals Goals on zone plays Goals off the rush Goals on individual efforts
14 8 6 7
Goals by shot type
Wrist Slap Snap One-timer Tip Backhand
5 2 6 1 1 0

Unlike the last two seasons, Plekanec scored more often on zone plays than he did off the rush. Part of that was a little bit of bad luck as he scored on fewer breakaways, but a bigger part was a marked increase in goals on zone plays. Plekanec scored twice as often on zone plays this year as compared to last season, actually scoring more in total in 47 games than he did 81.

Once again though, Plekanec did a lot of his goalscoring without much help, as 50% of his goals were on individual efforts. Let's compare more in depth to last season.

2011-12 Goals by situation
Goals Goals on zone plays Goals off the rush Goals on individual efforts
17 7 10 9
2011-12 Goals by shot type
Wrist Slap Snap One-timer Tip Backhand
5 3 4 1 2 3

The main difference in shot type from last year to this one is the lack of backhand goals. Most of Plekanec's backhanders last year were on breakaways, so his lack of goals there this season came from the downswing there. Part of that was fewer scoring opportunities shorthanded. Last season Plekanec scored 3 shorthanded goals on a penalty killing unit that was the envy of the NHL, however this year the PK was the biggest weak point the club had, allowing goals at a higher rate and producing zero goals.

Plekanec, like Gallagher, is a pretty versatile goal scorer, scoring in a variety of ways. This season however, his shot type breakdown looked more like Pacioretty's than Gallagher's, using wrist and snap shots much more often than anything else.

2010-11 Goals by situation
Goals Goals on zone plays Goals off the rush Goals on individual efforts
22 7 15 10
2010-11 Goals by shot type
Wrist Slap Snap One-timer Tip Backhand
10 5 2 2 3 2

From 2010 on, Plekanec scored 68.2%, 58.8%, and 42.9% of his goals off the rush. The sharp decline by percentage doesn't tell the whole story though, as he was on pace to score the exact same number of goals off the rush in 2013 as he did in 2011-12, which means that 2010-11 could be the outlier season, but I haven't gone back further than that as of yet to find out (maybe next lockout?). One thing does seem clear though, and that is that Plekanec is scoring on zone plays more often than before. He scored more in a lockout shortened season than either of the previous two full seasons.

The coaching and system change from Jacques Martin/Randy Cunneyworth to Michel Therrien is likely the biggest factor in that increase, as Therrien's forecheck seems to increase zone time for all his scoring lines. However the general improvement of the Canadiens as they became healthier and full of young, talented players growing into their roles, likely also plays a factor as the Habs have become a dominant possession team.

What's the best news about Plekanec though? the soon-to-be 31 year old Czech is showing no signs of slowing down. Not only did he score on a higher percentage of his shots than he had in the two previous seasons, he also shot at the second highest rate of his entire NHL career, on pace for 232 shots in an 82 game season.

It's possible that his 32 game stint in Kladno recharged the batteries a little bit, restoring some of that all important goalscoring confidence as he ripped 21 goals in the weaker league while playing with his buddy Jaromir Jagr. Either way though, expecting Plekanec to push 25 goals and 60 points next year isn't unreasonable in my opinion, as long as Therrien continues to give him passable linemates.


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