Analyzing the Neutral Zone (and beyond!): A Call for Volunteers.

Over here at Hockey-Graphs, I’ve been taking a look at Neutral Zone Tracking and what the results of such tracking can tell us about the modern game of Hockey. My last post, for example, looked at what such tracking told us about play in the offensive, defensive, and neutral zones, and to what extent was performance in each of those zones skill or randomness at the team and individual levels. Before next season begins, I have two more posts planned: one doing further research into repeatability of various neutral zone metrics and another looking at how score effects affect neutral zone play.

The biggest weapon I’ve been using recently to do such research has been Corey Sznajder’s (aka @ShutdownLine) All Three Zones Project (the genesis of which can be found HERE).   Through Corey’s work, we have a nearly complete dataset with Neutral Zone Data for the 2013-14 season, for EVERY team in the league.  The dataset also includes to a lesser extent zone exit and zone entry defense data.  Even more, Corey is actually really close to finally finishing the tracking this summer and we’ll have a complete data set very soon.  This is an incredible resource for new hockey knowledge, and it’s available for anyone , as long as you make a $15 contribution to Corey’s GoFundMe Page, which can be found here.   I think this is an incredibly worthwhile use of funds if you can afford it, and many people have indeed actually already given.

What many people haven’t done is actually taken the data and DONE anything with it.  Again, this data set was released about a year ago now, and yet very few individuals have been doing work with it at all.  This is a bit of a disappointment.  If you include the passing tracking project of Ryan Stimson (Data available here, here, and here), we now have two large datasets filled with information that could help us better understand the game of hockey.

So what I’m asking is this for volunteers to try and actually try and do some work with the data.  There are a lot of questions we can try to answer!

For example, one question someone posed to me on twitter is:

What really is the risk of a D-Man attempting to jump up through the neutral zone and carry the puck-in?  

Now we can’t answer that question fully from the data – a D Man who tries to carry the puck through the NZ and turns the puck over at the red line is making a bad play that our data can’t capture – but we can take a shot by looking at the effects on shots against of carry-ins and carry-in failures by defensemen.  And this is just one question that we can possibly look at.

Please email me at my email address (garik16 AT Gmail) if you’re interested in looking at the data, or leave comments here in the comment section.  Alternatively, if you have other questions you might like answered, please leave them in the comments as well.  Together we can hopefully learn a lot more about the game of hockey.

4 thoughts on “Analyzing the Neutral Zone (and beyond!): A Call for Volunteers.

    • Sure! The most useful stuff is the entry data, which looks like this in raw form:

      The sheets have a second page which compiles the data for each team into some stats, but most research will be done with the raw data.

      The exits and zone entry defense #s are for the moment just in compiled form, but raw time-stamped data for entry defense #s is coming.

    • Not looking for any specific level of experience working in hockey analytics.

      As for statistics, some basics are probably required, but not requiring heavy knowledge either. The goal is to get people started – I can try and help you manipulate the data into a form that will allow you to answer a question or two, although some spreadsheet skill is probably required. If you’re interested, please shoot me an email.

      And if you don’t feel you have even that, you can still help if you can think of any questions you think we could possibly answer. we would appreciate any contribution.


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