Over this past season, @BSH_EricT of NHL Numbers and Broad Street Hockey watched every single Flyers game and counted every time the team brought the puck across the offensive blue line, then marked down who gained the zone for the team and how that player did it (dump in, carry in or pass, I presume).
Once you get past how insane that undertaking is, you arrive at the conclusion that he probably compiled some interesting data. Those numbers would allow you to see who’s the most successful at gaining the zone with possession, who’s more inclined to dump it, the success rate of the two strategies and more
While I’ve had a little grin at Fancy Stat-ers having their double rainbow moment over the fresh pile of data they get to mine (not to be condescending, they’re just really excited about this), I thought I’d weigh in on the thought process of players approaching the offensive zone, the strategy, and why Eric’s numbers likely turned out the way they did. Read the rest of this entry »
"They see me dumpin' and chasin', they hatin'" -Zac Rinaldo
The most important zone in hockey is the smallest.
Several studies released this month on numerically-minded hockey blogs have used manually collected information as well as the available data from the NHL.com play-by-play charts to determine this.
Eric T. of Broad Street Hockey and NHL Numbers wrote a terrific “wow” post that, if you missed, there’s an important takeaway: there is no substitute for moving the puck. Even the best offensive players in the league will do as well in the attacking end once they’ve gained the blue line:
The Flyers’ fourth line (Couturier-Talbot-Rinaldo) averaged 0.29 shots per time they dumped or deflected the puck in, while the top line (Giroux-Jagr-Hartnell) averaged 0.28. The fourth line averaged 0.56 shots per time they carried or passed the puck in, while the top line averaged 0.53.
The reason Giroux has a better shot differential than Rinaldo isn’t that he does more with each entry; it’s that he wins the neutral zone more often (more total entries) and does so more decisively (gaining the zone with possession).
If it’s true that the less-skilled players are being coached to just dump the puck in—and I suspect it is—then the coach might be doing more to limit their offense than their own lack of skill is. This is the kind of inefficiency that can be identified, fixed, and exploited to gain an advantage over the rest of the league.
The major difference, as shown by Eric, was that the elite players like Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr would gain the zone with puck possession rather than dumping it in often. There isn’t a number available to use to show a player’s success at doing this, since certain lines and teams are coached differently.
Read the rest of this entry »