I’ve been prattling on for a while about Bruce Boudreau’s team, how they play following offensive zone faceoff losses and the fine results that they achieve. I was doing my year-end totting up of the data and I happened across something interesting.
Start at the beginning. I classify shot attempts depending on when the last faceoff occurred, who won and where it was on the ice. I’ve found that there are specific periods of time following a faceoff in which we kind of see the same results over and over. It’s 37 seconds for OZ faceoff wins/DZ faceoff losses, 29 seconds for neutral zone wins/losses and 21 seconds for defensive zone wins/offensive zone losses. That’s how it long it takes for the impact of the faceoff’s location and result to wash out of the results on the ice. Anything that falls outside of the period in which a faceoff impacts it, I call it an open play event and classify it separately.
The results are, year after year, incredibly similar.
When I was looking at this year’s data, it kind of caught my eye a little bit that the Corsi% post-OZ loss hit a high this year. I’ve been obsessing about this and the fact that this year saw the league 2.5 points better than it was 2007-12 seemed kind of intriguing to me – it takes a lot of teams being better to move the needle that much. It suggests to me that there’s something going on, teams approaching this differently. So I went and looked at the individual team results. I think it’s kind of interesting.
(You can click on the table to see it on a new page)
I’ve sorted the table by results in 2012-13, and then highlighted the teams that cracked 60% this year. I’ve also marked the Oilers, given that this is nominally an Oilers blog. It’s pretty dismal. The Oilers were actually better in the first half than they were in the second half – in the second half, they posted a 36% (!) Corsi% in these situations. I know that there are a group of Oiler fans who suspect that the team kind of dialled back the attack in the second half; this doesn’t disagree with that analysis.
Most of the teams that were good last year were good this year – Vancouver, Chicago and Montreal didn’t quite get to where they were last year but were still very good. It’s the identity of the teams that improved that catches my eye. Phoenix, San Jose and Los Angeles all brought back the same coaches as they had in 2012-13 and all made big jumps. Those are all really well run teams and I wonder whether seeing how Boudreau’s teams play over the past two years sold them on changing how they approach things. Dallas’ jump is maybe less surprising than it seems as well. Lindy Ruff has a track record of teams that are very good in these situations – his Sabres were frequently amongst the league leaders.
Other than San Jose, none of these teams really has any kind of a pedigree in these situations:
It’s harder for me to account for Winnipeg, St. Louis and, in particular, Columbus. It’s heartening, as a fan of a team that needs to take a massive leap forward Corsi% wise to see this; I just wonder how it came to pass. The fact that a team can make that kind of a move without big adjustments in personnel suggests to me the possibility that this is largely tactics driven.
Given what I’ve done with this to date, I’m inclined to think that this is pretty heavily tactics/coach driven. I think I’m gong to watch some video involving the Oilers playing against Pacific teams to see if I can’t nail it down further. It was excruciating watching the Oilers try to escape their own end against these teams this year. I kind of wonder whether part of that was a division full of teams that don’t give up easy breakouts, not necessarily because they’re “heavy” (hate this term) but because they don’t just fall back upon losing an offensive zone draw. We shall see.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org