The “Sophomore Jinx” and Tyler Myers

Or the Sophomore Slump, whatever it’s called, every hot rookie is said to have to ‘watch out’ for it.  But is it real?  I asked Gabe Desjardins over at Behind The Net the question on Twitter, and here was the response:

Sophomore slump usually on-ice Sh% regressing to mean, or coach giving young guy tougher assignments. Player doesn’t regress tho

Hmm, these are two things we have stats for.  Let’s investigate the second part first.  Myers had the highest Quality of Competition rating of any D on the Sabres last year (Tallinder .001 behind as the other member of the shutdown pair), jumping over the boards whenever the likes of Ovechkin, Crosby and Stamkos were on the ice.  I don’t know how much better his opponents can get.  He is top 15 for NHL D in time on ice, averaging 3 minutes shorthanded time AND power play time, so it’s not a matter of playing more.

With that covered, we look at shooting percentage.  Tyler’s shooting percentage last season was 10.6% on 104 shots, a pretty healthy clip but not abnormally inflated (like say, Lee Stempniak in Phoenix).  Your goal-scoring, offensive defenseman typically has a shooting percentage in the 8-11% range, so there shouldn’t be a huge change here.  What COULD change, and would result in the goal total increase over the next few years I’d expect, is the shot total.  104 is low compared to some of the veteran D that pile up goals (Mike Green 205, Shea Weber 222 for example).  Gabe had an interesting article on this at the end of last season, actually:

Shooting percentage is essentially constant from Age 19 to 26, and then it begins a long, slow decline.  What does increase, however, is the number of goals scored per game – because the number of shots taken per game goes up much faster than shooting percentage drops

I think this bodes well for Myers and his ability to improve.  He has a very good point shot, and it’s not a stretch to think that he has the green light to shoot more often.  I’d like to see a total closer to 150 shots, with a focus on using his shot on the power play to create goals and rebound chances.  Even if his shooting percentage dropped a bit, that would still have Myers bumping up his point totals a bit to the 14-15 G, 45A range.  We’ll know more once the first few regular season games get rolling.

2 thoughts on “The “Sophomore Jinx” and Tyler Myers”

  1. Good article, I don’t think many Buffalo fans are worried about a slump and I think this helps validate that belief. I noticed during the preseason that he was shooting at the net on the PP instead of behind the net for rebounds. Hopefully that reflects increased confidence about his shot, which according to several sources (Pierre McGuire) has improved.

    Myers has been much more physical and even intimidating during the preseason than he was during last season. He is noticeably stronger and regularly pushed players off the puck, and dropped them with what looked like little pushes.

    Myers is a very smart, mature, and passionate person and I think that there are many ways he can and will improve this season.

    1. Yeah, most places where I saw the ‘sophomore jinx’ comments were MSM. I think it’s just one of those things they say without actually thinking about whether or not there’s any merit to it.

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