Jonathan Toews and John Tavares from point-blank range

"Have any plans for Saturday?" "Just gonna hang out by the net, like usual." - Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

Which two players stand apart from the pack in getting close to the net for their shots?

Here's a quick piece of trivia that jumped out at me.

Let's go back to the 2009-10 season and look at who got closest to the net for their shots. This table (courtesy of Behind the Net) shows the leaders in average shot distance among those who played at least half their teams' games:


There are a couple of plugs in there, but that's a fairly star-studded list. That's not particularly surprising -- we'd expect better players to be able to get off more dangerous shots. So do we see those same guys year after year? Let's move ahead to 2010-11:


Again, we have a bunch of stars, but few of them have repeated at the very top of the board. Jonathan Toews and John Tavares were the only two who showed up again.

And in 2011-12:


Hey, look, it's Toews and Tavares. What about the shortened 2013 season?


Where'd Tavares go? He fell all the way down to 91st that year, but since he shot 17.6 percent at even strength and led the league with 19 even strength goals in 48 games, we probably don't need to fret about him too much.

And finally, let's check in on how things are going this year:


Both of these players are fantastic drivers of possession -- they excel at gaining the offensive zone with possession and help their teams have a positive shot differential when they are on the ice. That's a huge value to their team and a big part of what makes them successful.

But make no bones about it, they also possess an uncanny ability to get to dangerous spots on the ice, and that's part of what puts them among the very best in the league.

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