Above are the results of my neutral zone tracking for game 2 of this Islander season. Again, for quick clarification, “controlled entries” are entries via carry-in or via pass – whereas uncontrolled are by dump or tip-in. Dump-and-Changes are not counted. The above is only 5 on 5 play.
Again, 1 game is not a sample size of any predictive value. But the point of these posts is to describe what happened during the game – when we get more data we can talk about prediction – how did the team and each player play in the neutral zone. (This is not a complete picture there, which we’ll talk about in a future post.)
We have a larger sample of relevant data for this game, since two periods were played in “close situations” – the game was never out of “close” until Bailey’s goal at the end of the 2nd. (For those who don’t know, “Close” is whenever the score is within 1 goal in the 1st two periods, or tied in the third. In non-close situations, teams play differently, which can change how stats work). At that point, the Islanders had basically played completely even with the Canes in the neutral zone at 5 vs 5, with the same amount of controlled entries (Carry ins or pass-ins) made by both teams, while the Isles had one more total entry.
You’ll note that’s not how the overall entries look above – this is a textbook example of “score effects” – given a lead in the third, the Islanders played less aggressively, being more prone to dump and more in a shell, leading them to lose the battle of both total entries and controlled entries. This isn’t a flaw by the way, we’d expect the entries to be less effective of the Canes during this play by the Isles, and they in fact were – the Isles outshot the Canes in the third actually. This is why for team data, we’ll be using “close” data.
Looking at the individual data, again there really wasn’t a dominant Islander on the night. Grabovski led the way with 6 entries, but only 2 were carry-ins (a few were tip-ins). Brian Strait by the way is credited with a carry-in which was actually a pass-in by goalie Chad Johnson – our tracking system has no way of crediting entries to goalies, so Strait is a lucky bum.
Speaking of which, it’s interesting through 2 games how little our D men are carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Last Year Travis Hamonic carried in a bunch, and Nick Leddy was known for carrying in a LOT, while Thomas Hickey also was okay at carrying the puck in. Leddy’s made one entry these two games. I know it’s a riskier strategy to have your D carry in, and maybe it’s simply due to how the Canes play the neutral zone, but I’d like to see the D be a bit more aggressive in the future. But we shall see.