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Brayden Schenn on his hot streak: “I’ll just call it fun”

Brayden Schenn continued his hot streak on Saturday night, scoring the OT winner against the Vancouver Canucks to push his recent run to 15 points in seven games. I’ve already talked about how Schenn is completely exceeding any expectations Blues fans had prior to the year, but it’s worth talking about once again.

With Schenn’s goal on Saturday, he now has eight goals and 18 assists in 2017-18. His 26 points are tied with Jaden Schwartz for fourth-most in the NHL. Schenn has already given plenty of quotes regarding his and his team’s run of success, but his latest is pretty entertaining.

Schenn, via STLToday:

“I’ll just call it fun. It’s been fun. The team’s winning. We’re playing good hockey. We’re finding ways to win. Guys are stepping up every night. Like I said before, I’m just trying to be a piece of the puzzle here, and just trying to be an addition to this team.”

There are only so many humble ways to answer these types of questions, particularly when they’re seemingly asked after every game while Schenn continues to roll.

Schenn has been more than just one piece of the puzzle. He has been an element the Blues have sorely needed, but he has also elevated his game and has been a consistent source of offense on a team that has historically lacked consistency. Though the Blues have been playing extremely well as a team, no one should downplay just how good Schenn has been and how much of an impact he has had in 21 games.

How long can Schenn realistically maintain this kind of pace?

One thought on “Brayden Schenn on his hot streak: “I’ll just call it fun”

  1. How long is an interesting question.

    The entire line has a PDO in the mid-107 range, being propped up a bit by above-average goaltending:

    Allen’s sv% on the season is .910, and his career average is .915
    Schenn’s on-ice sv% is .934
    Schwartz’s on-ice sv% is .938
    Tarasenko’s on-ice sv% is .949

    It’s probably safe to expect some regression in the PDO based on the goalie’s numbers, since we’re not exactly talking about a line noted for its elite defense as a unit here. That said, let’s lop a couple of points off of those 107.5-ish PDOs for the line and call it 105.5 instead. Still high, and our remainder is driven by shooting percentages, if from above-average-to-elite shooters.

    Schenn’s career on-ice shooting% is 8.3%, ranging from 6% to 9% over the years that he played a majority of a season (leaving out the12.5 and 11.5 from his first nine games over two years in LA). So far this year, it’s a whopping 14%. Though, remember, this is the team’s shooting percentage while he’s on the ice, not his own personal – previous years of Philly probably don’t equate very directly to this year’s Blues team with the hyperactive D corps potting goals left and right.

    Schenn’s career personal shooting% is 12.5%, compared to 14% this year (yes, same as the team’s on-ice, I did check to make sure I wasn’t just misreading lines!). Up, yes, but not so incredibly much that regression to his historical mean is going to wreck his pace. Plus, for the last two years in Philly, he shot 14.6% and 14.0% for full seasons, so we may be able to say this is actually his capability at present (likely near-peak, given that he’s 26 this year), and not need to expect much, if any regression during this particular year.

    Those things said, we can probably expect Schenn to keep up his goal-scoring pace and tack on another 20-24 over the remainder of the season.

    Of course, he has slightly more than twice the number of assists that he has goals this far this season (sounds pretty reasonable for a centre…), so his linemates’ production is definitely part of the question.

    Schwartz’s career on-ice shooting% is 10.2%, ranging from 8.5% in his first full season to 10.5% last year, compared to 13.6% so far this year. Given that he’s essentially played the year with Schenn, the comparable oish% isn’t a surprise, though that doesn’t make it less high.

    Schwartz’s career personal shooting% is 13.8%, compared to 22.2%(?!) this year. Ladies and gentlemen, we may have found our first actual outlier here… His best full-year shooting% previously was 15.2%, three years ago. Of course, this does have to come with some caveats: The next season, he only played 33 games due to that freak ankle injury in practice. It’s impossible to say how much that may have impacted him subsequently, but there was an awful lot of talk about how he still didn’t look entirely “right” for a good chunk of last year. Still, that’s not going to account for a nearly 10% jump in shooting%.

    So, what does it actually mean to Schenn if we try modeling the remainder of the season while regressing Schwartz’s unsustainably high S%? Through the first 21 games, Schwartz has taken 45 shots, or 2.14 shots per game. Multiplying that by the remaining 61 games in the regular season, we’ll expect that he takes another 130 or 131 shots. If he then scores at his career 10% average, we’re expecting another 13 goals from him this season (as a rather blunt average), rather than the 29 we would expect if he continued scoring at his current rate. We certainly wouldn’t be expecting Schenn to be involved in every single one of those goals, regardless of whether he regresses or not, but if we’re taking 16 goals off the board, that’s going to impact Schenn’s stats to some degree or another.

    We’re getting into an area that stats, advanced or otherwise, aren’t really helpfully presented at this point (I bet teams have this internally, because if I want it to discuss something like this, they definitely want it for matchups, contracts, and so on). What we need to know is, how many of Schwartz’s goals did Schenn get points on (at least I can pull the data for Tarasenko, too, while I’m doing the grunt work!), and, preferably, how many of them were primary in nature (not all assists are created equal, as it were).

    Schenn has a total of 18 assist on the year so far, to a total of five different players:
    5 to Pietrangelo, of which 4 were primary assists.
    3 to Edmundson, of which 2 were primary assists.
    1 to Steen, which was a primary assist.
    5 to Tarasenko, of which 1 was a primary assist. (Of those, three of the four other primary assists were Schwartz.)
    4 to Schwartz, of which 2 were primary assists.

    Honestly, I expected the Schwartz number to be higher, but it speaks well for the sustainability of Schenn’s points pace that it’s that low. Well, it would, but I bet if we go look at Petro (career 5.7%, to 10.1% this year) and Eddy’s (1.1% in year one, to 3.7% last year, to 15.8% this year – I’m gonna go ahead and call that unsustainable…) shooting numbers this year versus their historical averages, they’re due for some heavy regression themselves. (Where are my advanced stats to account for Yeo’s system of heavy D activation in the offensive zone versus’s Hitchcock’s system? There’s an obvious eye test difference here, and it’s impacting the D’s goal stats, but I’m not sure how to go about dredging it out of the numbers. Definitely something to be said for shot quality, beyond just luck.)

    And what about Tarasenko? His career on-ice shooting% is 9.9%, while it sits at 12.8% this year. So, he’s benefitting from someone’s luck, but it isn’t necessarily his own. He’s personally shooting 11% on the year, and the only time in his career before this that he was under 13.6% was his rookie campaign (10.7%). Part of this may also be that he’s simply taking more shots, which we ought to want such a scorer to do. He’s already taken 91 shots through 21 games, on pace for about 350 shots total, which would beat the 292 shots he took in his 40-goal campaign in 2015-16 in a walk. So, he may well come up some from where he is currently, which certainly shouldn’t hurt Schenn’s point pace.

    So, all of that said, how long can this continue? It boils down to how much of the increase in the Blues D scoring is luck versus system change, and how much better than his career numbers a healthy Schwartz is. It certainly seems unlikely to continue at this level unless someone finds the ON switch for the power play, but we’d still be talking about regressing from top-three-in-the-league to probably top-ten-in-the-league. Without hashing out all of the numbers here, I’ll point out that the Stamkos line in Tampa is seeing a lot of similar kinds of numbers in terms of long-term percentages versus this year’s numbers, while also being propped up by a substantially better PP.

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