I took this from the canucks.com forum. Very interesting.
Exerpts from article in The Hockey News April 6, 2004 issue:
Shot study shows stars 'randomize'
... a scientific theory called the Bayesian thought process, which says elite athletes, perhaps subconsciously, can screate random patterns with their shots, much like a computer does. Only the players do it with pucks instead of zeroes and ones. In theory, it makes sense. After all, as Atlanta netminder Pasi Nurminen puts it, "goalies are not that stupid that they don't watch the highlights and see where the guys are shooting."
"If they know you have three or four places you like to put the puck," says Vancouver's Markus Naslund, "it's going to make the goalie worry a little more about you." So when a guy like Naslund can mix it up so well that his shot placement is random, he's unpredictable. No amount of studying is going to help a goalie guess the target.
To test this theory - which was originally studied for its application to tennis players - The Hockey News made a cursory analysis of three scorers: Vancouver's Markus Naslund, Columbus's Rick Nash and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk. We recorded where a player shot the puck based on the five first glance openings on a tended net: upper and lower right sides, upper and lower left sides, and five-hole. The results - series of digits running from 1 to 5 - were analyzed using the chi-squared method to assess each player's randomness.
The results showd all three, to a degree, create random patterns with their puck placement, Naslund is the best, mixing up his selections to an almost perfectly random degree. "Markus can do so many things and that makes him unpredictable," says teammate Johan Hedberg. "You have to expect everything." Nash, in second, slightly favors the top shelf and five hole. Kovalchuk, although random, tends to go to the upper right-hand corner and the five hole more often.
Naslund gave credence to at least the subconscious aspect of the theory. "A lot is instinct," he says. "I can almost feel where the puck is going to go before it leaves my blade." Only Kovalchuk, among the three, could be described as a true believer in the Bayesian randomness theory. "It's tougher and toughter to score every year," says Kovalchuk, a grizzled veteran of three seasons. "So I should do something else. That's why I work in practice everyday."
I think this is based on a false assumption. They assume Näslund, Kowalchuk and Nash score more often because they shoot more randomly (but precise). But most of the evidence points to them not being better shooters in particular, they just shoot more often. I would say the skill of a great goalscorer is as much getting in a shooting position and getting the shot off as being related to shooting ability.
Both Kowalchuk and Näslund have an average shooting %. Nash a pretty good one. All three are obviously good goalscorers but proving it statistically is bound to be flawed.
A little more info about the concept. The Bayesian thought process isn't the idea that the shooters create random patterns... it's that the goalies try to predict where a shot will go based on shooters' tendencies.
It kind of comes down to a "duh." Say 75% of my shots are high, glove side. If you're a goalie, you're going to be a little cautious about the high glove side when I've got the puck, right? Now, if I shoot all over the net, you've got to concentrate on everything. As that link points out, you've got to be careful about the assumptions. If I don't really shoot high glove side 75% of the time, you're going to get burned if you protect that too much.
Playing in net while growing up, we did not have the benefit of the video replay, nor did we watch tapes of other teams. What we did have the benefit of was a relatively small league. Due to this, as a goalie, you came to know the shooters. You knew the guys with the boomer from the blueline, the quick snapshot from the hashmarks, and the guy that always went for the deek.
Because of this learning, you do become accustomed to thinking b4 the shot, where the guy is going to go. I do not think it is a pattern with the shooters, some shooters just release there shot at that point. The real good shooters put the puck anywhere they want.
As for goalies guessing, ummm I don't think so. Sure they watch the videos to get an idea, but they do not have time to ask the guy on the breakaway to turn around so they can see his number, say hey thats "Kovalchuk", where does he go again??? Oh yeah always glove hand, then fall to their knees and make a glove hand save....That's a ridiculous concept. It's in the back of the goalies mind, but he mainly relies on reflexes.
Goalies that think to much, don't play to much. Usually a goalie with a confidence problem, starts thinking to much and ends up on the bench.
Goalies rely on a combination of reflexes, hockey sense, and an awareness of what is going on, on the ice at all times. Sure they think, but the thoughts are left to"did i put on my jockstrap"...ummm"think that blonde behind the bench likes me?", and sure some hockey stuff, but not where every player on the ice is going to shoot the puck 75% of the time.
Now the reverse I can see. A player will watch tape of a goalie, know that he is prone to going down, or letting in shots on his blocker side and they will shoot there.
Bottom line is this, you play to a player's weaknesses. If a goalie is weak five hole, then ya try five hole. If a forward is weak to the outside, then the d force him to the outside. But you can't say that if a player is weak shooting to the top right hand corner that you give him the top right hand corner to tease him.
Ummmmm Is this an April Fools Joke. Oh wait, Hockey News is a joke