The Overblown Savard Myth


    A funny thing happened on the way to Marc Savard fantasy analysis that killed a myth …

    With the Phil Kessel deal, an overblown reaction was the glaring ommission of a Marc Savard caliber pivot in Toronto to get him the puck. Who would set him up? Who can replace Savard getting the puck to Kessel?

    There’s fact: there is no Savard.

    Then there’s myth … Kessel will miss Savard .. or opposite?

    The analysis was conducted in an effort to figure out just how influential was Savard to Kessel’s season. He assisted on 54% of Kessel’s goals, while attempting to separate how much was because of each player’s individual talent, and how much on the elite playmaking vision and distribution skills of Savard?


    The type of isolated goal was one where Savard had most influence in making the goal happen over Kessel’s ability:

    • A goal has two components, the setup and the actual goal .. set up could overshadow the goal, or vice-versa. Setup could be something as simple as a soft pass from the half boards – like where Savard controls the Bruins power play – or a seeing eye pass that catches Kessel in a scoring area due to elite passing skills. It’s Savard’s special passing ability along with intelligence to make plays happen while on the ice that is isolated goals, being the dominant component.
    • Assists in boxscores aren’t reliable enough to indicate who made the direct pass before the goal, and sometimes Savard is listed as the second assist when he was really the first. Video (links below) confirmed assists and which were direct and which were secondary assists.
    • Savard may not have received a point, but was instrumental in making the play to get the end result as a goal, somewhere prior to the goal being scored. That’s his credit for the goal and weighed heavily on the assesment. This is the impact play created to allow the goal to happen, the unheralded play which occur very often and I tried to take them into consideration for the most part that video was able to indicate.

    Video Source:
    NHL Video of each goal
    Youtube compilation of 42 goals

    In 2008-09, Savard assisted on 26 of Kessel’s 42 goals:

    Goal #: 3,4,7-12,14,15,20-29,32,34-36,41,42

    Goals Kessel scored without Savard getting a point:

    Goal#: 1,2,5,6,13,16-19,30,31,33,37-40

    Goals that met criteria:

    #20 — Savard crossed the line into the zone and catching Kessel on the fly on the right wing with a pass between defenseman’s stick and legs with Kessel finishing with wrist shot
    #24 — Savard comes off the half boards, fakes a slap shot, freezing defenseman and cuts to the goal, finding Kessel across the slot with a beauty pass for a one-timer
    #25 — Savard forces defenseman back towards the net, and criss-crosses in close through slot with Kessel traveling into the slot as Savard vacates giving him a good pass (Kessel’s wrist shot does the rest)
    #26 — On a broken play just inside the zone, Savard finds Kessel streaking down right wing and gets him the puck quick and sharp for a tap-in.
    #32 — Savard does the heavy forechecking, wins the puck from behind the red line in the corner and finds Kessel in front who takes two whacks and scores .. all Savard – workmanlike effort.

    #41 — Savard picks up turned over puck by Chara’s efforts in the neutral zone curls in with big defenseman on a 2-on-2 while Kessel trails and uses speed to make it a 3-on-2 .. Savard finds him in the slot in a perfect spot for his wrist shot.

    Six goals .. the total 14% of Savard’s contributions were converted by Kessel for goals falling under that criteria. The next time someone says how he will struggle without Savard, just think, six goals.

    Maybe, without the finisher in Kessel, Savard could struggle.


    This is subjective interpretation of the analysis, but video is right there in the links to measure for your individual taste of what is influential.

    There is one general flaw to the analysis here .. video took goals into consideration while dismissing all the chances Savard set up, but with similar criteria as above, that weren’t converted. This has a direct influence by numbers with goals as a ratio of chances, with a percentage of opportunities set up through the chemistry of both players with only six finding mesh.

    The commonality throughout the analysis was that Kessel seemed to be the right position to accept a pass and it wasn’t always Savard setting him up. Most efforts to get him pucks were simple little passes, or results of workmanlike efforts creating turn overs and capitalizing on opportunites. In other words, the kid could bury it on his own.

    In the end, the Leafs will have to collectively as units generate the same workmanlike crew to get him pucks, to make up for the loss of Savard.

    Savard may just end up missing Kessel just as much this season.