One of the reactions we heard all over the place last night in response to J.P. Dumont's surprising hat trick in Phoenix was that at long last, J.P. is shooting the puck, and that is playing a large role in his recent success (5 goals over the last two games). But is J.P. really a hesitant shooter, or is this just a label which has been unfairly hung on him by the fans?
It's worth revisiting one of my favorite hockey articles ever, Kent Wilson's The Limits of Observation, which discusses the various psychological factors which influence the way fans watch and think about the game of hockey:
Perhaps the best known heuristic amongst sports fans is confirmation bias, defined as the tendency to seek to confirm original beliefs or theories. Even when information is incomplete or sullied by confounding factors, people tend to generate hypotheses about it's meaning and then try to confirm these original guesses thereafter. For example, an Oilers fan sees a 30 second clip of an Edmonton prospect on youtube. He has no other real information on the player initially, but the clip shows the prospect flying through the opposition and scoring a highlight reel goal. The perception in the Oilers fan's mind is now established: Prospect X is good. Afterwards, the fan will be motivated to seek out and foreground data that confirms this belief (other highlights, performances at training camp, in drills, etc.) and disregard data that conflicts with this belief (poor counting numbers in a prior season, a bad shift during a game, etc.). Of course, the more info the fan finds to confirm his perception, the more ingrained it will become as a fact in his mind and, therefore, the more resistant he will become to conflicting input. By actively finding information consistent with the perception (while rejecting data inconsistent with the belief), the confirmation bias acts as a sort of psychological positive feedback loop over time.
I would suggest that "Prospect X" in Nashville is Linus Klasen, whose YouTube videos had fans drooling over the possibility of having a star-quality puck-dangler on the Predators' roster. What was left unsaid was how badly the defensemen he were that he was victimizing, compared to what you typically find across the NHL each night. Klasen has a long ways to go to prove he can be a regular contributor at the NHL level, but the potential is what folks cling to.
Another example of this dynamic comes with J.P. Dumont, who has been tagged with the moniker "Just Pass Dumont", the poster child for a shoot-last mentality that frustrates Preds fans. But does J.P. actually shoot the puck less than his comparable teammates? The table below shows the basic data for each Nashville forward with at least 10 games played and more than 5 minutes of ice time per game, along with a final column for how many shots they take per 60 minutes of ice time:
It's worth noting that since he's 6th among regular forwards in power play ice time, it's not like his numbers are getting padded by a favorable workload. Does J.P. pass up shot opportunities occasionally? Of course he does, pretty much all the Preds do (as well as other players around the league). I'd argue that in J.P.'s case he got this label applied to him, and it gets re-emphasized at every opportunity. In reality, however, he shoots about as much as the rest of the Preds, and more than young guns Colin Wilson & Sergei Kostitsyn, who are enjoying some good fortune (read: unsustainable shooting percentages) in their 11-goal seasons so far.
So keep on firing, J.P., and that goes for the rest of the Preds, too. For now, follow after the jump for your morning hockey news!
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Preds On The Glass: Predators Continue Success with Offense from Unexpected Sources and Wednesday Wrap-Up
Buddy celebrates J.P. Dumont's big night as part of his morning links.
Paul McCann - Random Notes
Paul meanders from St. Louis, to Columbus, to San Jose, and all over the league!
Mid-season Grades: Wingers | PredsBlog
Sam hands out report cards for the Preds' wingers, and it sounds like Joel Ward's mom might not be happy.
Hockey Night in Nashville: The Great Debate
Robby chimes in with his thoughts on David Legwand.
TEST DRIVE FOR TICKETS PROMOTION - Nashville Predators
A pretty cool new promotion by the team... take a Toyota for a test drive, and get a couple tickets to an upcoming Preds game.
Around the NHL
Five Things That Will Happen and Six Things We Predict Will Happen as a Result of the Comcast-NBC Merger " Puck The Media
Steve Lepore looks at the implications from the big merger on the NHL's broadcast rights.
Health, Sports and Alcohol: New Study: Thousands of Fans Leave Each Game Drunk - CNBC
From the "Blindingly Obvious" Department...
Trade deadline primer: Impending UFAs on losing teams - From The Rink
Here's a good starting point for your trade musings.
"It’s like getting a big Scotty Nichol," Wilson says of Sharks’ acquistion of Ben Eager | Working the Corners
The Sharks picked up an overpaid lug for their 4th line.
Ben Eager Traded - Bird Watchers Anonymous
In Atlanta, they're not exactly missing Eager.
Kyle Wellwood on becoming a Shark, that past problem with his weight, and his style of play | Working the Corners
The Blues struck out once again, as San Jose scooped Kyle Wellwood off the waiver wire after St. Louis signed him to a contract on his way back from the KHL.
Patrick Marleau's quietly successful 1,000-game career - From The Rink
Quiet is definitely the word with Marleau, who seems to perennially fly under the radar as one of the league's better forwards.
Concussion knocks Oilers veteran winger Hemsky out of Wild game - Edmonton Journal
It's likely that the Preds won't have to face the Oilers' top forward, winger Ales Hemsky, when they visit Edmonton on Sunday.
The possibility of Oilers leaving Edmonton is a business reality, not "emotional blackmail." - Cult of Hockey
The stakes are rising as the Edmonton Oilers seek public funds for the construction of a new arena.
Think Darryl Sutter got a raw deal? - The Globe and Mail
Second-guessing a trade opportunity that the (now) former Calgary GM passed on.
Video: Canadiens get injured, injured and injured again vs. Sabres - Puck Daddy
Wow, what a rough night for Montreal. Among others who got hurt, Max Pacioretty got taken to the hospital after a shot hit him in the torso.
Paul Holmgren Speaks With Media About Contract Extension [Transcript] - Broad Street Hockey
Philadelphia locks up their GM for a few more years.
Ovechkin's Shooting - Behind The Net
Gabe tries to explain why my fantasy hockey team is sucking wind so badly.
Why Would a Successful Team Change Their Draft Philosophy? - View From My Seats
The Buffalo Sabres famously pruned their scouting staff to go with more of a video-based approach, and Matt argues that it's costing them not so much in the early rounds as it does the later ones.
Home Advantage In Sports: A Scentific Study Of How Much It Affects Winning - SBNation.com
Jon Bois bends the numbers from the Big Four major sports to see how much of an advantage it is to play at home. The NHL comes out as having the least such edge.
Bourne's Blog: Getting 'cute' can drive coaches crazy - Puck Daddy
I'm reminded of a line yelled out by Preds assistant coach Peter Horachek during one practice a few months ago: "No more fancy dancin', SHOOT THE PUCK!"
Crosby: Report on All-Star protest 'not even close' to accurate - Puck Daddy
Greg calls out David Shoalts' link-bait from yesterday. If Shoalts were a blogger, I wonder how the MSM would treat that sort of speculation?
Mexico wins IIHF U20 Division 3 Tournament in Front of Packed House - Puck Worlds
Mexico topped Serbia on home ice to finish this tournament with a perfect 6-0 record.
Miss Vancouver 2010? Head to Astana-Almaty 2011 - Puck Worlds
Bruce profiles the 7th Asian Winter Games, which will feature a hockey tournament including up-and-comers China, South Korea, and Japan, among others.
And lastly, more HockeyGods.com!