Urban Dictionary defines "that shit cray" as "when there are no words for how hard you ball." A look at this morning's NHL stat leaders suggests that "that shit Krej" might have a similar definition; Krejci leads the league in points, goals, and +/- (his linemates occupy the other two top-three spots in the +/- category.) Throughout the last few years' worth of playoffs, it's been a constant narrative that David Krejci enters some sort of mythical Matrix-esque Beast Mode in playoffs. Is this true, or just perception?
Research that's already been done
Eric from Broad Street Hockey did this cool drilldown of projected vs. actual playoff stats; basically, the idea is to take the player's regular season points total and divide it by total minutes played to get a points-per-minute number, then multiply it by minutes played in the playoffs to get a PROJECTED points total, then compare it to that player's actual playoffs points total to determine if they're actually "playoffs clutch" or not. For Krejci, here are the numbers:
So it seems as if the eye-test of "Krejci is playoffs clutch!" fails at first glance. It's a variation of six points, or, spread over the course of 63 career playoff games, one extra point every 10.5 games; or, in statistical terms, he falls within one standard deviation of his projected points total (the standard deviation of 57 would be +/- 7.5). According to Eric's article, 98% of the league (aka the "non-clutch") falls within two standard deviations.
So Krejci, at first glance, is in fact remarkably average for a playoff performer.
So where does this supposed "clutchiness" come from?
A closer look at Krejci's numbers show something interesting. He has 91-218-309 totals in 424 regular season games, and 25-32-57 totals in 63 playoff games; he's obviously known for being more of a passer, a playmaker, the "Matrix who slows the play down" and sets things up rather than scoring goals himself for the most part. Here's an oddity, though; in the playoffs, Krejci's assist rate actually DECREASES.
It's a miniscule deviation, one that could correct to exactly what he's projected to have within a game or two; but again, there's no proof of "clutch" here.
For the big deviation, we have to look at his goal totals/projections.
A deviation of 11! Krejci's scored 11 more goals than he's "supposed" to over the course of these 63 games. Since the standard deviation on his 25 goals is 5, and two deviations is 10 (easy math oh thank god), Krejci definitely lies outside the bounds of the 98% as far as playoff goals are concerned.
So Krejci is just more selfish in the playoffs, is what you're saying?
Not particularly. Using the same "stat per minute" calculation, Krejci's 772 total regular season shots work out to about 0.103 shots per minute. His playoffs shot total (138) through 63 games is 0.112 shots per minute. Based on projections, he SHOULD have 126 total shots -- but that's still well within that two-standard-deviations rule -- and it's only about an extra shot per every five playoff games. So selfishness/shooting more/etc isn't the answer.
Not to add to the myth of David Krejci...but let's add to the myth of David Krejci. In years where he's lauded as being "clutch" or "PLAYOFFS KING MASTER" or "the reason the Bruins lost after he was injured in game 3," check out the boost to his shooting percentage from regular season to playoffs.
Basically Krejci's clutch performances seem to correllate with the boost to his shooting percentage between regular season and playoffs.
Between an increased rate of goal-scoring and an increased shooting percentage, is that what accounts for the constant narrative of Krejci being great in the playoffs? I'm inclined to think it's at least PARTIALLY responsible.