Comparing Johnny Gaudreau versus Sean Monahan’s career shot totals

The Calgary Flames have been blessed with two phenomenal players for over half a decade now. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan have been household names for the Flames’ offence ever since their arrivals in 2014 and 2013, respectively. One’s known for playmaking, the other for being a pure goal scorer; surely, these archetypes should translate to different shooting styles.

To compare the two Flames, I decided to plot their shot totals for every game they’ve played in their career using a ridge line plot. Plots were made using R with ggplot2 and ggridges, all data from hockey-reference.com.

Shooting stars

Let’s take a look at how these two players have compared throughout their careers.

The chart shows distributions of each players shot totals per game throughout a regular season. Just watching the players on the ice, one would expect that Monahan would probably outshoot Gaudreau more often than not. As it turns out, that is not the case at all.

When looking at their season totals, this is how the duo fares:

SeasonGaudreau ShotsMonahan Shots
2013-141140
2014-15167191
2015-16217197
2016-17182199
2017-18227202
2018-19245211
2019-20170141

Monahan only outshot Gaudreau in 2014-15 and 2016-17. The two did have similar shot total distributions when they first started playing, but Gaudreau’s game has shifted more towards being a volume shooter while Monahan remains deadly accurate. This is reflected with their career shooting percentages too, with Gaudreau shooting at 12.2% while Monahan boasts 14.8% shooting.

While the distributions do not account for shot quality or game situation, it does show how their styles have progressed throughout their careers. Gaudreau’s shot totals have tended towards more shots per game with every passing season. Currently this year, he’s even had more games with five shots compared to four shots.

Monahan, on the other hand, seems to play through a lot of games while being credited for two shots. While he does have games with high shot counts, it shows throughout his career that tallying two is a theme for the centre.

Shoot your shot

It goes without saying that these two players are crucial in the Flames’ success. It was interesting to remove all context and just break down the bare basics of how they compared to one another in terms of shot totals.

The results went against intuition, but perhaps further breaking their shots down to include types and distances one day can shine a little more light onto how this came to be.

Are there any other players or stats you’d like to see compared? Let me know in the comments or @wincolumnblog.

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