Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-15 season: Game 2 vs Carolina

Game 2 entries

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.

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4 thoughts on “Neutral Zone Analysis: 2014-15 season: Game 2 vs Carolina

  1. Could it be possible that Dmen are more likely to carry the puck in if your team is losing? It would seem that teams playing with leads wouldn’t take as many risks, which would lead to passing the puck up to a forward before they ever get to that blue line (if not dumping it all the way down the ice, or just chipping it out of the zone for a line change), right?

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  2. When it’s a non-close situation, yes, but when the score is within 1, as it was for 2 periods, you shouldn’t see much change in entry strategy. They just haven’t been pushing it.

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  3. How did 21 generate more shots than entries? Or are shots counted for uncontrolled entries? Not sure I understand or did they get 2 shots on one entry? Are all shots after a contolled entry counted?

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    • All shots after an entry until play stops (new faceoff) or the puck leaves the zone, are counted for each type of entry, controlled or uncontrolled. So if Okposo dumps the puck in and the Isles managed 3 shots before the puck is cleared (or the next faceoff), that’s 3 shots per that entry.

      Eric Tulsky argued that this # of shots per entry is pretty damn random and that pretty much all players are similar over the long run – I suspect it’s still pretty random but there is some skill involved, especially on a team level. Regardless in a single game, it’s not a meaningful #, so I would ignore it.

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