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Joe Thornton shoots when he wants

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Yes, that includes (slightly) more recently.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

It seems Joe Thornton has taken more shot attempts recently, something Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz brought up during Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues:

He more or less backed off the statement shortly thereafter when looking at Thornton’s shot on goal totals, but I think Kurz is onto something here. I decided to expand the search to shot attempts, and not just shots on goals, to see if Thornton has taken a bunch in the past 10 games and what I found is rather interesting.

Over the past five games Thornton has taken 10 shot attempts, which frankly is only a lot if your name is Joe Thornton. In the last 10 games that number increases to 2.6 shot attempts an evening; frankly that’s only relatively interesting. What I found really interesting was looking at his overall shot attempt numbers. Check this out from corsica.hockey:

(Full disclosure, I used photoshop to bunch up the graph here so that it rolls together smoothly)

That’s Thornton’s shot attempts per 60 minutes since 2011 on a 25-game rolling basis. With a rolling average over such a long period, I expected to see a much flatter chart, but it appears Thornton goes through stretches where he gets it in his head he’s going to shoot the puck a bunch and others where he decides he’s not going to.

This probably speaks to what a smart player Thornton is. Sure, he’s a pass-first player ( we don’t have the kind of passing-data that can prove this so we’re just going to have to rely on the eye-test for this) but a smart player knows when to shoot and when to pass, right?

Of course given how steep the peaks and low the valleys, it seems more likely Thornton wakes up one morning and decides he’s going to shoot more in a given month. Maybe that’s the case. Looking for more good news about Thornton? It was around this time last year that his primary points per 60 minutes chart took a steep rise. Take a look:

Alright... so you got me, that shit doesn’t mean anything. But wouldn’t it be cool if it did? The reality is that a guy who relies on assists for his point totals to be impressive probably needs the rest of the team to start scoring some damn goals at some point. If they’re not going to do it; Thornton might have to take it into his own gloves.