When it comes to possession the blue lines are two of the most important areas of the ice. It’s about time we made a concerted effort to track them publicly.
Below are a smattering of stats taken from tracking every Avalanche zone entry and exit from their game against Arizona. Under entry and exit there are three categories: Carry for when a player carries a puck over a blue line, Pass for when a player creates a play that gets over a blue line by passing, and Dump for when a puck is shot across a blue line. Each of those three then have success and failure rates. Dump-ins get broken down a bit further to get a possession retention value.
As always take these stats with a grain of salt, tracking entries and exits is far from a perfect science. Judgement calls have to be made often on whether it was the pass that created the space to get across the line or if it was the receivers work by carrying the puck across. At the upper level I kept dumping the puck simple, any puck that was pushed across it’s respective blue line and didn’t result in icing or immediately coming back the other way was considered a successful dump. This should be very easy to accomplish, a failed dump means something has gone pretty wrong. I do go a bit further beyond that if you look at the zone holds/denials and possession retention data but, consider that to be in beta, there is a whole lot of vague arbitrary stuff going on there but I know people want to see that data so I did my best to track it.
For those of you interested in the raw stat tables I have posted a link at the bottom of the page for you to dig around in, for those of you that don’t want to dig through the numbers to find meaning, here are some of my takeaways:
Total: 82/92 (89.1%)
Carries: 51/53 (96.2%)
Passes: 6/9 (66.7%)
Dump-ins: 25/30 (83.3%) (16.7% Possession Retention)
Total: 112/138 (81.2%)
Carries: 40/45 (88.9%)
Passes: 35/43 (81.4%)
Dump-outs: 36/49 (73.5%)
It’s nice to have some statistical backing to the eye test that dump and chase hockey is not the way to possess the puck. Outside of that hideous retention percentage on dump-ins there were no major issues getting across the blue lines for the Avs in this one. They could stand to be a little more consistent on their dumps, especially dump-outs and they may just want to stop passing across the offensive blue line all together as that leads to an offside whistle a fair amount. Those carry numbers however, are down right amazing. Granted, the Coyotes being soft at the blue line may have something to do with it.
Wait, That’s Not Nathan MacKinnon (Carl Soderberg):
Soderberg was aces for the Avs crossing the line, offensively he crushed it going 11/12 with 7 carries and he even had one of the few dump-ins that actually led to offensive possession. Defensively he usually deferred to his line-mate Blake Comeau to do the heavy lifting but if called upon he carried across that line as well. This is the complete game we got to know so well in 2015-16 and it is good to have him back.
That’s Nathan MacKinnon:
With Soderberg behind him, MacKinnon was still an absolute monster. When you combine both blue lines MacK had 14 carries, all successful. When he gets the puck he pretty much does whatever he wants a dares the defense to stop him, spoiler alert: they can’t. Chalk up zone exits and entries as another stat backing the MacKinnon for Hart push.
Wait, That’s Not Tyson Barrie (Sam Girard):
To say Girard was involved in the breakout would be an understatement. He posted a massive 22 exit attempts and respectably succeeded on 18 of them. His propensity to pass the puck out effectively to the neutral zone gives the Avs a massive boost in driving the puck forward in control. The kids decision making is ice cold on the breakout, he just needs to refine the execution a little bit.
That’s Tyson Barrie:
Between Girard and Barrie pucks were getting passed up and out of the Avs zone like hot cakes. Barrie leaned on his skating ability more than Girard to carry pucks out of the D-zone himself. At times it creates magic, at others it is an unnecessary risk. Once in the neutral zone the both of them usually deferred to the forwards to take on the entry task curling back to their defensive positions. Once in the zone Barrie did pick up a couple of nice holds to keep the play alive at the blue line. Data isn’t exactly readily available here but based on what little data we have it doesn’t seem like Barrie’s puck moving work load has gone up much in Erik Johnson’s absence.
The Delegator (Patrik Nemeth):
Patrik Nemeth is not the best puck mover. He is also well aware of that fact, so whenever possible he will get that puck to someone else in the D-zone and let them take it away. He didn’t even attempt a single entry and none of his exits were carries, and this is perfectly fine, he understands his limitations as a player and is working around them.
Keep The Receipt (Duncan Siemens):
We got exactly what we were billed for here: a defensive defensemen with puck moving issues. Siemens led the team in failures with 5 of his 11 exits not getting the job done. Long term those numbers just aren’t going to cut it, even for bottom pairing work.
It is interesting to see the Avs plan of attack for this game but, this was just one games worth of stats. Certainly these numbers will fluctuate heavily across a larger sample size. So, and I’m not making any promises here, The plan is to track this for the rest of the season giving us a nice 15 game sample size that should give us some concrete data to extrapolate from.
Click here for full stat tables or if charts are more your thing check these ones made by @seamill12 out:
Picture credit to @thevoiceofvlad