• Penguins Can’t Fly Or Generate Shots Off NZ Losses

    by  • May 21, 2014 • Hockey • 5 Comments

    I wrote something the other day in which I pointed out how lousy Pittsburgh’s become after they lose faceoffs in the neutral zone. The key table (although you should read the whole thing) was this:

    I went back and generated two graphs that shed some light on things, I think. We know that Pittsburgh’s a different team when they have Crosby or Malkin on the ice than when they don’t. I graphed the shot attempts for and against in the 29 seconds following an NZ loss with Crosby and/or Malkin on the ice and without them on the ice. I think it’s instructive.

    Sid and Geno first:

    At the risk of stating the obvious, when you lose a neutral zone faceoff, you get outshot in the next 29 seconds. The reason is obvious: you’re starting without the puck. In order to generate a shot attempt, you have to first retrieve the puck. Even for players as great as Malkin and Crosby, this holds true. You can see that in 2009-12 (the blue/green lines), which coincide with Dan Bylsma’s first three full years, they got outshot after they lost an NZ draw.

    It got worse though the past two years. The SAA are up about 10%, the SAF are down about 20%. Their Corsi% has fallen from 43.8% to 36.2% in these situations, where 40% is about the league average.

    Now let’s look and see what happens when they aren’t on the ice.

    Oof. We actually see the same thing, to a degree: the damage to the SAF numbers is much bigger than the damage to the SAA numbers. The SAA are up 13%. The SAF are down almost 50%!!! Their Corsi% has declined from 43.4% from 2009-12 to 26.3% from 2012-14. As a fun comparison, Boston’s Corsi% in the 37 seconds following a defensive zone faceoff loss in the 2012-14 seasons was 26.9%. Boston does better losing a defensive zone faceoff than Pittsburgh does losing a neutral zone faceoff without Crosby or Malkin on the ice. It almost defies belief.

    As I said, I’m inclined to think that this is tactics gone amok. If you’re a Penguins fan (or coach) interested in figuring it out, I’d be looking into what change has occurred that’s made it harder to generate shot attempts as time passes from an NZ faceoff loss. It could be terrible zone exits. Maybe they’re dumping the puck in more and not pressuring, I’ve got no idea but there’s something going on here. Find the solution to this by spending a few hours with video and there’s an extra two points in the standings for you, as well as an increase in your chances of winning a given playoff game.

    Email Tyler Dellow at tyler@mc79hockey.com


    5 Responses to Penguins Can’t Fly Or Generate Shots Off NZ Losses

    1. Rob
      May 21, 2014 at

      How is this data gathered? Is there a website out there (besides extra skater) that tracks shot attempts or are you watching video and gathering yourself?

      • cthrek
        May 21, 2014 at

        Rob – if you look on the boxscore page of any game on nhl.com, there are links to various HTML reports. These reports include various events, including every shot attempt and every faceoff, and the times that they occurred. This is the data that extraskater is built based upon. But it’s certainly possible for other people to extract the data from those reports into a database and query the data in ways that are not possible on extraskater.

    2. chelch
      May 21, 2014 at

      How’s that zone-entry data coming? After Scott Gordon’s comments, I’m really interested in comparing the Leafs & Pens entry data to the rest.

    3. Frank
      May 22, 2014 at

      Breakdown of tactical changes the Pens made this season that have led to possession issues. Seems like the answers to some of your questions are in here:


      • Kris
        May 22, 2014 at

        Thanks for posting this, haven’t read that site in a while. The trapping of the neutral zone probably has something to do with why they give up more shots post nz-. Also the fact that Letang and Martin get hurt every year placing a bunch of the burden on Orpik, Engelland and some of the lesser puck moving D (Scuderi this year) doesn’t help. If I had to guess those numbers probably look better when Crosby and Geno lines are paired with Maata, Letang and Martin.

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