Rookie sensation Dennis Cholowski is now getting the mainstream media’s attention, and it’s about damn time. But what has been one of the key reasons for Cholowski’s early career success?
Location, location, location – where Cholowski is able to get his shot off his extremely important as to why he is able to find the net early on in his career.
The importance of where a player is able to shoot is extreme. If a player is just taking potshots from low-danger areas, sure the raw number of shots will increase, but the likelihood of scoring will be so low. That is where shot quality comes into play.
From Corsica’s 2016 blog post about how they calculate expected goals, here is a rough estimation of the dangerous areas of the offensive zone when it comes to shooting the puck and the possibility of scoring a goal.
This is all about getting to the dangerous areas of the ice and the ability to generate a scoring chance. Most rookies are not able to do that and as confident as Dennis Cholowski is.
As a whole, the whole concept of expected goals is extremely interesting as it applies to Cholowski. There are a couple different systems used for this metric, but according to Corsica’s, he has a total of 1.01 expected goals (xG) at 5v5. To put that into context, that ranks 10th on the Red Wings and above any Wings defenceman.
To be able to get that number, Cholowski needs to really get to those high-danger areas, and as seen by Sean Tierney’s shot map below, he really thrives in areas.
Most of his shots come where typically an NHL defenceman’s shots lie – on the blueline or just at the top of the faceoff circle. But Cholowski takes it a step further and really likes to get in those high-danger scoring areas down the middle.
As seen above, he has multiple shots from even below the faceoff dot and in that “home plate” area that most forwards like to shoot from. To be able to do that as a defenceman (let alone a rookie) is astounding. He is able to use his skating ability to enter those areas with the puck, or receive a solid pass, to generate these types of scoring chances.
Even in his first NHL goal, Cholowski demonstrated his ability to get to that area and get a very good scoring chance. Having the vision to see a prime opportunity and jump on the chance to receive a backhand pass from Larkin and put the puck in the back of the net.
The one Blue Jackets forward definitely made the mistake of overcommitting to Larkin and giving space for Cholowski to sneak in there before a winger was able to fill that void, but it was still a solid play by Cholowski.
Less than half an hour into his first NHL game, Cholowski had the confidence to jump into the play. But he has only continued to be able to get into those areas and produce some high-danger chances.
For instance, in the game last month against the Florida Panthers, Cholowski pounced on the loose puck and was able to use his skating ability to get to the front of the net and shoot.
This time, he is entering the area with the puck rather than receiving a pass, like he was on his first NHL goal. Demonstrating at least two different ways that Cholowski has been able to generate individual offense so early on in his first NHL season.
In the end, it simply makes sense. To have a higher chance of scoring, you just go closer to the net and don’t try to launch the puck from 50 feet out. To have Cholowski already being offensively aware of these opportunities is massive for the future of this team.
He is certainly an exciting player to watch and will hopefully have a long and offensively-sound career as a Red Wing.