By all accounts, Tyler Myers had a McGuirian monster of a rookie season. forty-eight points, plus thirteen, and he led a division-winning team in time on ice. The media gushed over Myers throughout the 2009-2010 season and right through the NHL Awards. When he won the Calder, he was described as an absolute rock.
Myers does a little bit of everything for the Sabres. It’s crazy enough that he’s the third leading rookie overall – as a defenseman – but he also logged the most minutes of any rookie (his 1,903 minutes on ice dwarfs runner-up Victor Hedman’s 1,542). He spends about 3 minutes per game on the power play and the penalty kill, blocks the most shots among rookies and is competitive in nearly every positive category. In fact, you can extend his great year beyond rookies: Tyler Myers leads all Buffalo Sabres in time on ice per game, averaging three more minutes than runner-up Henrik Tallinder. Buffalo would be lost without their skyscraper of a rookie.
As 2010-2011 Training Camp began, the stories about a sophomore slump were everywhere. When Myers' counting stats didn't look like they did last year, the stories not only persisted, but seemingly every hockey media source published an article on the subject.
Statsman Kent Wilson took umbrage with such proclamations and investigated.
However, there’s a good chance that Myers has just been flat out unlucky so far. Twelve games seems like a large enough sample size to start making judgments, but in the grand scheme of things it’s tiny. Like, say, the first 12 hands at a poker night. The sway of fortune and flip of the cards would have as much to say about the success or failure of the guys at the table as much as their skill.
And bad luck is what it was and continues to be for the young blueliner.
#57 / Defenseman / Buffalo Sabres
Feb 01, 1990
|2009 - Tyler Myers||82||11||37||48||.585||+13||32||16||.333||104||1.268||23:44|
|2010 - Tyler Myers||35||5||10||15||.428||-8||16||6||.400||63||1.800||23:37|
Myers is playing the same minutes as last season and he's shooting more, though scoring less. However the Sabres are scoring about 10% fewer goals compared to the 2009 season, so Myers' scoring rates are going to be off. It's Myers' plus-minus that the mainstream has held up as a cause for real concern, but how relevant is that number?
The newest and best toy on Desjardins' www.behindthenet.ca is the Player Card. A look at Tyler Myers' player card shows just how wrong the sophomore slump narrative really is, and why counting numbers as the basis of an argument, especially plus-minus, can be so fallacious. I've extracted some of the relevant numbers from his card and placed them in a table below.
His offensive zonestart position has increased, but so has his zonefinish, meaning his zoneshift has remained relatively constant. His Corsi numbers, raw, relative and adjusted, have taken a huge leap forward this season. When Tyler Myers is on the ice, the puck is either moving the right way or being held in the opponent's end of the ice. Myers has not faltered, but his luck has. The numbers completely out of his control - shooting and save percentage - are unexpectedly low. When he's on the ice, the Sabres are shooting 5.85% and Buffalo goalies are only stopping 90.5% of the shots against. His PDO of 96.3% isn't low for a small sample size, but it's atrociously low for a full season.
Tyler Myers is doing everything he can and has actually improved individually in 2010. It's not a sophomore slump that's done him in, it's a Sabres slump.