How Michael Ryder scored his goals in 2013 - Part 3 - Analysis

Richard Wolowicz

Michael Ryder scored 17 goals this season, which is quite a lot for a player the Habs are willing to lose to free agency. Are they making a mistake?

Michael Ryder's agent recently let slip that the Montreal Canadiens weren't interested in bringing him back, but considering the thin market on unrestricted free agents, was that a wise choice? Ryder is a bit of rare talent in the NHL in that he's a one shot goal scorer. He's not on the level of a Phil Kessel, but he's someone who can and will, on occasion, score 30 goals in a season.

At the age of 33 though, it's entirely reasonable that Marc Bergevin saw enough from Ryder this year to come to the conclusion that he wouldn't be that guy anymore, that perhaps his offense would no longer mitigate his poor defense.

Obviously this news impacts how we analyse Ryder's season, including the goals he scored. Let's first look at his 6 goals in Dallas.

Dallas Goals by situation
Goals Goals on zone plays Goals off the rush Goals on individual efforts
6 5 1 4
Dallas Goals by shot type
Wrist Slap Snap One-timer Tip Backhand
3 0 1 0 0 2

In Dallas Ryder was scoring pretty much on his own, putting perfect shots through goalies with individual efforts. Even though he seemed to have some good chemistry with his linemates, it seems like he was the driving force on the line, with 66.7% of his goals being primarily his own work.

83.3% of his goals were on zone plays instead of off the rush.

Shifting to Montreal, Ryder was used quite differently. Used primarily on the first line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta against top competition, so Ryder didn't have as much room to work with.

Montreal Goals by situation
Goals Goals on zone plays Goals off the rush Goals on individual efforts
11 9 2 1
Montreal Goals by shot type
Wrist Slap Snap One-timer Tip Backhand
4 0 3 1 4 0
Total Goals by situation
Goals Goals on zone plays Goals off the rush Goals on individual efforts
17 14 3 6
Total Goals by shot type
Wrist Slap Snap One-timer Tip Backhand
7 0 4 1 4 2

An extremely sharp drop in individual efforts from two thirds of all his goals in Dallas to just 18.2% of his goals in Montreal. Interestingly, P.K. Subban directly set up 6 of Ryder's 11 goals as a Hab in 2013, including 3 shots that Ryder tipped in.

Last season's results from an extremely weak possession team saw 52.6% of goals by the top 6 goal scorers scored off the rush, with only Erik Cole and David Desharnais scoring more often on zone plays. Ryder isn't a very dangerous player off the rush, but with 82.4% of his goals coming off of zone plays, he is uniquely dangerous. Ryder's ability to create space for himself and get into scoring areas without being covered are the biggest factors in his goal scoring, even bigger than his world class wrist shot.

In total, 35.3% of Ryder's goals were on individual efforts, which is comparable to Desharnais last season. When parsing this data, I don't believe that Ryder is done as a goal scorer in the NHL, even though he may never score 30 goals again in his career.

At the same time, I think it's easy to see why Bergevin isn't interested in bringing Ryder back. Defensively Ryder brings little to no value, possibly even negative value. He can make plays at times, but his main talent is scoring goals. If your main talent is scoring goals, ideally you should be able to make it happen on your own a little more often. Ryder is a complementary player at his core, one that is likely fairly easy to replace or upgrade upon.


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