Originally posted on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 1/26/12

I was not able to live-track the Hurricanes-Capitals game on January 15th because I was at the game and it's taken me longer than usual to get the scoring chances posted for this game because I was planning on doing something special with this. Remember my post where I tracked zone exits for certain shifts to see how effective certain defensemen were at completing breakout passes? Well, I decided to expand on it and track zone exits for an entire game and add it to my scoring chance reports to get an even deeper idea of how the game went. That's not the only addition I made. Broad Street Hockey has been tracking zone entries for the Flyers all season and I have finally decided to start tracking them for the Hurricanes. Thanks to Eric Tulsky and his awesome script, tracking zone entries is made simple. All you need is Microsoft Excel, a game to watch and some time to kill. This will give us an idea of who is winning the battles in the neutral zone and, when combining them with stats like corsi, which players are driving the play better than others.

We will have a better picture of the entire team once we get more games tracked, but I wanted to get this project off and running and figured the All-Star break gives me some extra time to get it done. This is still a bit of an experiment, so let me know if you have any suggestions with the method that I'm using here. Advanced stats in hockey are growing by the day and tracking zone entries/exits will give us an even closer look at the Canes. 

We'll get started after the jump

First, I'll post the scoring chance data that I'm sure most of you are familiar with by now.

Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH 1 4 1 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 4 3 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 4 6 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Totals 17 9 12 9 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Carolina's chances are in red, Washington's are in white

I chose a pretty good game to start tracking, didn't I? The Canes played very well at even strength and on special teams and were great in the third period. Although, a lot of it had to do with the Canes trailing by one for nearly the entire third period and all of their best chances were shut down by Tomas Vokoun, who made 43 saves that afternoon. This was one of the Hurricanes' better performances this year, though. It's not often we get to see them outshoot their opponents' by 20 even if a good chunk of their shots didn't come from a dangerous scoring area. That certainly would have helped us get something by Vokoun, especially in the first period where they had 13 shots on net and only 3 of them were registered as scoring chances. They defended well throughout the game, though. 

Individual Scoring Chances

# Player EV PP SH 4 Jamie McBain
15:26 4 4 4:58 2 0 0:08 0 0 5 Bryan Allen
16:08 6 3 0:10 0 0 0:49 0 0 6 Tim Gleason
17:50 6 4 0:10 0 0 0:49 0 0 12 Eric Staal
15:34 3 3 4:51 1 0 0:41 0 0 13 Anthony Stewart
8:12 1 1 2:47 4 0 0:00 0 0 14 Andreas Nodl
15:38 5 3 0:10 0 0 0:00 0 0 15 Tuomo Ruutu
14:25 2 3 4:58 1 0 0:00 0 0 16 Brandon Sutter
17:28 6 2 0:10 0 0 1:11 0 0 19 Jiri Tlusty
12:53 1 3 0:00 0 0 0:15 0 0 23 Alexei Ponikarovsky
9:49 2 3 2:54 4 0 0:08 0 0 27 Derek Joslin
12:11 4 3 0:00 0 0 0:08 0 0 28 Justin Faulk
19:42 2 2 4:40 2 0 1:03 0 0 30 Cam Ward
48:26 11 9 7:55 5 0 2:00 0 0 36 Jussi Jokinen
12:25 4 3 2:54 4 0 0:00 0 0 37 Tim Brent
9:53 3 1 1:58 3 0 0:00 0 0 39 Patrick Dwyer
15:42 5 2 0:10 0 0 1:37 0 0 42 Brett Sutter
8:01 1 0 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0 44 Jay Harrison
18:23 2 2 3:54 3 0 1:03 0 0 53 Jeff Skinner
12:24 4 3 4:51 1 0 0:08 0 0

Best EV Forward: Brandon Sutter +4

Worst EV Forward: Jiri Tlusty -2

Best EV Defenseman: Bryan Allen +3

Worst EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain, Justin Faulk & Jay Harrison

The scoring chance differential at even strength wasn't nearly as extreme as the shots were and the results show here as some of the members of the top-six could not create that many scoring chances. Tlusty and Ruutu in particular had a real hard time at creating chances even if they were buzzing in the offensive zone for most of the game. Sutter, Dwyer and Nodl were excellent at shutting down Ovechkin's line and chipping in offensively. By far the team's best line that night. The fourth line was also solid with Brent having a very strong game. Allen/Gleason did their jobs against Washington's top line while Faulk and Harrison came out even despite playing well by the eye-test.

We're gonna skip the head-to-head data and move right onto zone entries. What we're going to do here is show how many zone entries a player had, how many shots he created with each entry and the percentage of entries that he maintained control of the puck on. This gives us an idea of who was controlling possession in the neutral zone, who was creating offense with their zone entries and who was able to control the puck with their entries as opposed to simply dumping it in. Before we get into the individual performances, let's take a look at the Canes team performance.

This was a very good game for the Hurricanes as they owned 57.7% of the total zone entries and 58.3% of the entries at even strength, so they were definitely controlling the neutral zone a bit. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with them playing down a goal for most of the third period, but they still had a very strong game territorial wise. The bad part of this game was that a good majority of their zone entries came on dump-ins as they had puck control on only 44% of their zone entries. The Canes were winning the battles in the neutral zone but not enough to carry the puck in on their own. However, they were doing a better job at getting the puck on net with their zone entries than the Caps (.54 shots per entry vs. .50 shots per entry) and were doing an even better job at attacking the zone when they had control of the puck on entries (.84 shots per entry vs. .69 shots per entry). One area they really could have improved on was getting shots on net when they already had established possession in the offensive zone as they created only .33 shots on goal per offensive zone face off and that was with 21 of their draws coming in the Capitals end.

Now we single some players out as we look at the individual numbers.

Player Entries Shots from entries
Shots per entry # of controlled entries Shots  from controlled entries Shots per controlled entry % of entries with control McBain 0 0 0 0 0 0 0% Allen 5 3 0.60 0 0 0 0% Gleason 3 0 0.00 1 0 0.00 33% Staal 3 0 0.00 2 0 0.00 67% Stewart 5 6 1.20 3 6 2.00 60% Nodl 6 0 0.00 4 0 0.00 67% Ruutu 10 4 0.40 4 2 0.50 40% Sutter 5 3 0.60 3 3 1.00 60% Tlusty 4 7 1.75 2 7 3.50 50% Ponikarovsky 1 1 1.00 0 0 0 0% Joslin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0% Faulk 4 1 0.25 1 1 1.00 25% Jokinen 2 1 0.50 0 0 0 0% Brent 5 1 0.20 1 0 0.00 20% Dwyer 5 7 1.40 3 3 1.00 60% Sutter42 4 1 0.25 2 1 0.50 50% Harrison 2 0 0.00 0 0 0 0% Skinner 7 3 0.43 5 3 0.60 71% Team 71 38 0.54 31 26 0.84 44%

Skinner and Nodl were the most successful at getting the puck into the offensive zone on their own and Skinner being at the top of that list shouldn't be much of a surprised because he is one of the best puck-handlers on the team. The team was also successful at attacking the net whenever Skinner got the puck into the zone, so that's a plus. Nodl, on the other hand, is not known for his puck-handling skills but the Canes had control of the puck on four of his six entries. The downside is that they couldn't get any shots on net. What is interesting is that his linemates, Sutter & Dwyer, were able to win most of their neutral zone battles, too but their entries resulted in much more shots on net.

One guy who saw a lot of his zone entries turn into shots was Anthony Stewart as he made the most out of his limited ice-time and the fourth line seemed to be able to get the puck on net when he got it deep. However, most of those shots weren't quality scoring chances as the earlier report shows the fourth line didn't create too many chances. Jiri Tlusty had the same problem as the Canes got a lot of shots on net when he got the puck deep but not many were chances.

Tuomo Ruutu handled the puck a lot but he had to dump itin on many occasions as he didn't have control on six of his 10 entries. The Canes did get some shots on net from his entries, at least. Tim Brent, Brett Sutter, Jussi Jokinen, Alexei Ponikarovsky and pretty much every defensemen were also more likely to dump the puck in rather than stick-handle through the neutral zone.

Next we'll take a look at how the team performed in the neutral zone when certain players were on the ice. Taking a page out of Eric T.'s book, I created a graph plotting the Canes players' zone entries for and against per 60 minutes against each other to show who was giving up the most and fewest chances relative to the team average.

If you're having trouble interpreting this graph, I'll explain it briefly. It is how many zone entries the Hurricanes had when each player was on the ice relative to the team's average for this game.  The further north they are on the graph means they were on ice for a lot of Carolina zone entries and the further east they are on the graph means they were on ice for not many opposing zone entries. For instance, Brent, Harrison, Faulk, Allen and Gleason were able to get the puck deep while not giving up much in the neutral zone. On the other hand, Staal and Ruutu were getting the puck deep but their defensive play in the neutral zone was a bit weak. On another extreme note, McBain and Joslin were a wreck when it came to neutral zone play.

Finally, we will look at zone exits where I will show how effectively a player was at getting the puck out of the defensive zone. To do this, I will show how many times a player touched the puck in his own zone, how he advanced the puck (by carrying it through the neutral zone, making a pass into the neutral zone or by other means like banking the puck off the boards) and showing how often he was able to successfully advance the puck. I also made note of how many times a player turned the puck over in attempt to exit the defensive zone. This will mainly show how some defensemen are more effecient at making breakout passes and being able to move the puck through the neutral zone. The results may surprise you a little.

Player Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Advance% McBain 16 2 3 1 0 37.5% Allen
15 2 4 3 2 60.0% Gleason
9 1 2 1 0 44.4% Staal
2 1 0 0 1 50.0% Stewart
6 3 0 2 0 83.3% Nodl
8 5 2 0 0 87.5% Ruutu
9 7 1 0 0 88.9% Sutter
4 1 1 0 1 50.0% Tlusty
5 2 1 1 0 80.0% Ponikarovsky
4 2 0 0 0 50.0% Joslin
12 1 2 0 3 25.0% Faulk
33 4 11 2 1 51.5% Jokinen
11 2 4 1 0 63.6% Brent
5 4 1 0 0 100.0% Dwyer
3 2 0 0 1 66.7% Sutter42
5 1 0 1 1 40.0% Harrison
23 2 2 1 5 21.7% Skinner
5 3 0 0 2 60.0%

Justin Faulk was relied on to advance the puck far more than any other player on the team and he was very successful at making breakout passes. As you can see, he led the team in breakout passes and touches by a wide margin. Faulk's defensive game is still coming along but his puck-moving skills are incredible for his age. His partner, Harrison, was also relied on to advance the puck but he was as successful and that's being nice. He turned the puck over as many times as he advanced it, which is never a good thing. Harrison has been praised for emerging as more of an offensive threat but this clearly was not one of his best games.

The defensive duo of Allen and Gleason had some moderate success with advancing the puck but Allen was actually the stronger of the two in that area. A couple of his advances were desperation plays or hard passes along the boards, though which does show his ofensive limitations. Either way, he sure was a lot better than both McBain and Joslin. McBain actually disappointed me a lot because he is known for being a more offensive-minded player but he relied a lot on forwards to advance the puck instead of taking it out himself. This is one reason why Faulk is getting a lot more ice-time. Joslin was awful. He only had three advances on 12 touches, iced the puck twice and had three turnovers. Makes you miss Jaro Spacek a bit, doesn't it?

All my future recaps will not be this in-depth but I will do my best to try to include all of this information within them so that it is out there. It will be great once we get some more games tracked and use this to rate players more thuroughly.

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