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Unconventional Wisdom - Zone Entries

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A look at some of the early results from the Three Zones project.

Harry How

We have seen a lot of increased interest in tracking players' performance in carrying the puck in and out of the zones, and currently Corey Sznajder is working on re-watching every single NHL game from last season and compiling the statistics, you can donate to help support his project which now includes somewhere between 30% and 60% of the season, depending on whether you are looking at Entries or Exits, For or Against. You can check out some of the results of the early season Zone Entry against numbers in Lyle Kossis' most recent article. Lastly, David Johnson wrote an informative article about zone entries and exits at the team level which if you haven't seen already is certainly worth a read.

Zone Entries

The project tracks the number of attempted zone entries, how effective the team is at taking the puck from the neutral zone into the offensive zone, breaking it down into successful carry-ins, dump-ins, and failed attempts that were broken up by the opponent. He also tracks the number of shots that were generated as a result of the entry, so that one can gauge the effectiveness of carry-in vs dump-in.

Carry-in%

For Carry-in percent, the Penguins team average is 45.9% of entries, whereas the league-wide average is 46.1%. From our team we've got 5 forwards who had surpassed the mark, from best to worst: Malkin, Crosby, Bennett, Kunitz, and Goc. The remaining forwards carry the puck less than average, again from best to worst: Sutter, Megna, Dupuis, Downie, Ebbett, Spaling, Comeau, Hornqvist, Sill, and Adams.

On D all of them are below the league average, which shouldn't come as a surprise since most offensive plays are generated by the forwards. So our D, from best to worst, are: Letang, Despres, Martin, Maatta, Ehrhoff, Bortuzzo, and Scuderi.

Fail%

The percent of attempted entries that are broken up by opposing defenders is something we would like to keep to a minimum, and with a team average of 9.3% we weren't too far off from the league average of 8.8%. The Pens actually have 9 forwards that were below that average, in order from best to worst: Ebbett, Sill, Megna, Sutter, Comeau, Hornqvist, Spaling, Goc, and Adams. The remaining forwards see their attempted entries broken up more often than average, from best to worst: Downie, Bennett, Dupuis, Kunitz, Malkin, and Crosby.

On D, everybody comes in at better than league average, from best to worst: Maatta, Scuderi, Martin, Letang, Ehrhoff, Despres, and Bortuzzo.

Differential

Taking a page from David Johnson's foray into team totals, we can create a differential by subtracting the percent of failed entries from the percent of successful carry-ins. If we do that, we get a team average of 36.6% and a league-wide average of 37.2%. From a Penguins perspective that gives us 8 forwards who are better than league average, from best to worst: Malkin, Crosby, Bennett, Megna, Ebbett, Goc, Sutter, and Kunitz. The remaining forwards all fall below the league average, from best to worst: Downie, Sill, Spaling, Dupuis, Comeau, Hornqvist, and Adams.

Once again all of the D are below the league average, since D don't often carry the puck in themselves, but from best to worst: Letang, Despres, Maatta, Martin, Ehrhoff, Bortuzzo, and Scuderi.

Shot Generation

The Penguins last season generated 66.7% of their shots thanks to carry-ins, which is quite close the the league-wide average of 66.4%. That does indeed support the claim that carrying the puck in oneself is more conducive to positive possession than dump and chase. In fact we can also break that down into shots per entry, in which case the Pens had .65 shots per carry and .27 shots per dump, compared to the league average of .67 shots per carry and .29 shots per dump.

The Pens have 7 forwards who had a higher percentage of shots due to carry-in, from best to worst: Malkin, Bennett, Crosby, Sutter, Kunitz, Goc, and Spaling. The remaining forwards fall in below the league average, from best to worst: Dupuis, Downie, Comeau, Sill, Hornqvist, Ebbett, Megna, and Adams.

All of the D fall in below the league average, generating less shots when carrying the puck in themselves. From best to worst: Letang, Despres, Martin, Bortuzzo, Ehrhoff, Maatta, and Scuderi.

If we instead look at the number of shots generated per carry-in, then we have 9 forwards who are above the league average, from high to low: Sutter, Bennett, Comeau, Hornqvist, Downie, Crosby, Spaling, Goc, and Adams. We also have 2 forwards that are above the team average: Ebbett and Dupuis. The remaining forwards are below the team average, from best to worst: Kunitz, Malkin, Megna, and Sill.

On D we actually have 3 that are above the league average, from high to low: Ehrhoff, Bortuzzo, and Despres. The remaining D are below the team average, from best to worst: Letang, Martin, Maatta, and Scuderi.

Some of them are better than others at generating shots from dump-ins though, so looking at shots per dump-in we have 6 that are above league average, from high to low: Megna, Ebbett, Hornqvist, Crosby, Downie, and Adams. We have 2 more that are above the team average: Comeau and Goc. The rest of the the forwards are below the team average, from best to worst: Kunitz, Dupuis, Malkin, Spaling, Sutter, Sill, and Bennett.

On D there are 3 that are above the league average, from high to low: Despres: Ehrhoff, and Maatta. The remainder are below the team average, from best to worst: Letang, Bortuzzo, Martin, and Scuderi.