Despite lower scoring, Andrew Shaw is playing well

Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks has had a strong performance this season after his breakout campaign in 2013-14, when he had 20 goals and 39 points in 80 games for the Blackhawks. While Shaw is not currently on pace to match either his goal or assist totals from last season, he is performing just as well in many different categories.

Most importantly, he has kept his offensive SAT above 54 percent, similar to players like Jamie Benn, Dougie Hamilton, and Alex Ovechkin in even-strength ice time.

Shaw has primarily played on Chicago’s secondary lines, bouncing around from group to group and playing with many different linemates. He does not have the benefit of playing with Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane on a daily basis. Despite this, Shaw is fifth among Blackhawks forwards with a 54.2 offensive SAT in even-strength time. This strong performance in puck control has helped Shaw produce 30 scoring chances per 60 minutes, fifth among Blackhawks forwards. Shaw is an integral part of Chicago’s offensive depth.

Another factor helping Shaw this season is his improvement in taking penalties and avoiding committing them. Last season, Shaw had a minus-2 penalty differential, and this season it is up to plus-5 in even-strength time. This swing in penalty differential is helping the Blackhawks spend more time on the power play than they are spending on the penalty kill.

Though Shaw’s point total this season is below last year, he is performing well on the offensive end. The primary reason for Shaw’s slower scoring pace this season is a drop in his shooting percentage. This is something that has plagued most of the Blackhawks’ forwards, as six of their 11 forwards with at least 400 even-strength minutes have a shooting percentage below league average.

It is possible that a drop in skill has impacted their performance, but it’s more likely that goaltenders are performing better or getting luckier than they were last season. Last year, the Blackhawks only had two forwards who shot below league average in at least 400 even-strength minutes.

For Shaw, the struggles may be coming from shots outside of high-scoring areas. Relative to the rest of the league, Shaw is shooting above-average in the low slot, but is well below average farther away from the net. This could be due to inaccuracy, lack of developed screens in front of him, or a number of other variables. The hextally charts included show last season and this season. Shaw is taking many of the same shots, many of which are in high-scoring areas, but is not scoring as many goals.

Even though the relative shooting percentages vary greatly, the main takeaway from the hextally charts should be that Shaw is getting to high-scoring areas and isn't wasting his time by taking shots from low-scoring areas. He is using his strong puck control skills to get to places where he should be able to score. When a player does this, sometimes it’s just up to luck to determine how often he is going to score.