Goal to assist ratios and Rick Nash

January 3, 2007

You all remember the season, right?  The one where the fabled sophomore slump gave way to a Rocket Richard Trophy?  It’s one of the brighter spots in Blue Jacket history as it stands at this moment.  Rick Nash comes into the league in 2002 at the age of eighteen, scores a goal in his first game and goes on to put up respectable numbers in his rookie season (17-22-39 in 74 GP).

The next season (2003-04), Nash cranked out the excitement on a nightly basis and became the first teenager to score 40+ in quite a while.  His 41 goals tied with Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk for the league lead.  But while many fans were dazzled by the glittery goal numbers, yours truly (and I’m sure others) were a little concerned about the other portion of the scoring equation: assists.  Rick managed to increase his goal production by 141%, but his assist production slacked by 27% to only 16.  I don’t remember exactly who was playing with Nash that year, but I’m going to take a guess and say it was mostly Todd Marchant and David Vyborny.  That year, Vyborny had (22-31-53) and Marchant had (9-25-34).  So it’s not as if Nash didn’t have opportunities to get a few more assists, he just didn’t get them.

In 2005-06, Rick tightened the gap while scoring (31-23-54) and this season through 37 games he has (13-17-30).  If you follow the CBJ, it’s not been difficult to see that Nash is looking to pass more often than in the past.  With the amount of attention that he draws in the offensive zone, his increasing willingness to pass combined with a matured sense of vision and skill have made his line more dangerous.  If the defense collapses to Rick, he spots the open man.

Rick will still get more than the averge amount of chances to score goals because he not only benefits from opportunities created by others, but can also create his own goals with his size, strength, and skill.

Rick Nash

(Photo by Columbus Blue Jackets, taken by Jamie Sabau)

A quick comparison of Rick’s ratio’s to that of the top 30 point scorers in the league for each year he’s been in the league.

Year       Rick Nash            Top 30

2002-03      1 : 1.29               1 : 1.52

2003-04      2.56 : 1               1 : 1.49

2005-06      1.34 : 1               1 : 1.49

2006-07      1 : 1.31               1 : 1.61

What does it all mean?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps Rick is playing more complete hockey in the offensive end.  Maybe he’s being surrounded by better talent.  And maybe his second year was a bit of a fluke in respect to the 16 assists.  I’d welcome some other thoughts, drop them in the comments.

Tonight the Jackets (15-20-4 34 pts) take on the Los Angeles Kings (14-22-5 33 pts) at the Staples Center.  Face off is 10:30 ET, and you can watch the game on FSN Ohio or listen on 101.1 FM / 1460 AM.  Or you can take Truth’s suggestion, put the game on the tube and turn the volume down to do your own play-by-play.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.



  1. Hey! I thought you said you changed your mind on doing any stats posts. 😉

    Nice points, Drew. My vote wimps out by saying it’s a combination… he’s definitely playing better overall hockey, but he’s also playing with the likes of Fedorov now, too.

    Whatever it is, I have no complaints regarding Nash’s recent performance. December was an exciting month.

  2. I did change my mind, but this one slipped through!

    Actually, this doesn’t seem like too much of a stats post to me because the information was readily available to anyone. The things I was thinking of diving into required diving so far into the numbers that you’re not sure what planet you’re on.

    Line combination analysis in two and three man segments; goals/penalties/etc. in relation to how long into the shift a player/line is; save percentage in relation to how many shots a goalie has faced in the past “x” number of seconds (this one has been done, I think).

    That is the kind of crap I had thought about doing. Not that it’s crap, it just takes more time than I have to put into the research. Until a hockey team pays me to do that instead of the mundane stuff I do for money now, I’ll leave those things on the back burner.

    December was exciting. Let’s hope that January and beyond are even more so.

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