Entry Generation and Suppression

Intro

Hockey analysts have repeatedly shown the value of neutral zone play. If a player performs well in the neutral zone, he or she is helping generate offense for their team and limiting the opponent’s chances. In addition, neutral zone play is repeatable, and the player is likely to continue to drive possession for their team. If you can identify players who thrive in the neutral zone, you are in a position to help your team improve.

But while neutral zone play is important, we still have a very limited understanding of it. Between the distance from the goal, the fluidity of play, and the relative scarcity of data, most people don’t know how players perform in the middle third of the ice. Furthermore, we don’t even have a complete idea of how to make those evaluations. When figuring out how good a player is in the neutral zone, should offense and defense be evaluated separately, or are overall results enough? What skills translate to strong neutral zone play? What playing styles?

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Practical Concerns: On Anchoring, Delight And The Frederik Andersen Contract

One of the things I am trying to work on this summer is to be more self-critical about the way I treat and act on information. Frederik Andersen’s trade from the Anaheim Ducks to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and his subsequent signing of a five-year, $25 million contract proved to be a good opportunity in that sense.

Initially, I cringed a bit at the term and cap commitment Toronto made to Andersen. Five years is a long time and $5M per year is a big money for a guy who is not guaranteed to play all that well.

But I could be very wrong on that.

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SEAL-Adjusted Scoring and why it matters for prospects

While the primary focus of the hockey analytics community has been around roster optimization, there has been a small subset of the community that has worked a great deal on prospect analytics. This includes the work of Gabriel Desjardins’ on NHL Equivalent scoring, Josh Weissbock and Cam Lawrence’s work on Player Cohort Success (since purchased by the Florida Panthers), and Rhys Jessop’s work on adjusted scoring metrics.

As a big fan of prospect scouting and analytics, I wanted to add to the community by expanding upon the work done by Jessop.

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Practical Concerns: A Better Way To Talk About Hockey?

“The Pittsburgh Penguins won.” “The San Jose Sharks lost.”

Do those statements have the same meaning? The answer depends entirely on what you mean by meaning.

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Following the suggestion of my friend Arik Parnass, I’ve began re-reading the book Thinking Fast And Slow, which explores many ideas that can be applied to hockey.

One of the chapters in the book deals with the concept of framing – how people can be influenced to think about a certain situation depending on the words used to describe it. Going back to our initial example, did the Penguins win the Stanley Cup (because of their superior tactics, teamwork and talent level)? Or did the Sharks lose the Stanley Cup (because of their reliance on defensemen who are slow and can’t make a pass)?

There is no right or wrong answer, but we can see how a simple difference in phrasing can lead us down different avenues.

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Introducing Player Radar Charts

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For the soccer fans on hockey twitter, you’ve likely come across Ted Knutson. Several years ago, Ted introduced radar charts for player evaluations across the five major soccer leagues. At the time, I was busy tracking passes and other things on the New Jersey Devils, but always wanted to have something like that for hockey. So, I finally got around to doing it. Links to the Forward and Defense charts are at the bottom, so skip down if you just want to access those.

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Video Analysis: How The Penguins Extend Zone Time With “Total Hockey”

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By any predictive metric, the Pittsburgh Penguins have generated a staggering amount of offense against the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals. Earlier this week, we looked at how the Penguins are able to create possessions with good defensive habits in the neutral zone. Today, we’ll examine how they create a volume of offensive chances via positional switches.

To fully understand the ideas behind the Penguins’ offensive zone play, it is necessary to study the “Total Football” philosophy:

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The line of thinking lends itself well to the speed and teamwork-oriented nature of hockey as well. While the Penguins are by no means the first team to apply these ideas, they are a good example of how they can be used effectively at the highest level of the game.

Here are some clips from Game 3 and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final illustrating the tactical benefits of fluidity and positional switches.

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NHL Draft Probability Tool

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SUNRISE, FL – JUNE 27: the Boston Bruins during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 27, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

The annual NHL draft has become a great source of entertainment for fans. Since teams make player selections based on a combination of game theory and data, the draft is also a fertile ground for analysts as well. Game theory specifically is the foundation for the Draft Probability Tool that will be presented in this piece. It will help you explore how teams should approach the draft strategically: if you’re interested in a specific player, do you need to trade up or down to get him? How much should you be giving up or asking for? How far should you trade up or down to still get the player you value highly? This tool helps answer those questions.

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Video Analysis: In the Penguins-Sharks Stanley Cup Final, Possession Starts With Good Defensive Gap

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In the playoffs, details make the difference.

Heading into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Pittsburgh Penguin have had the measure of the San Jose Sharks in terms of shot differential. Looking at the game tape, we can see that one of the contributing factors is the way both teams defend the rush.

As a group, the Pens’ defensive corps is fleet-footed and blessed with good offensive acumen. They are also undersized and prone to being muscled off the puck by San Jose’s skilled forwards. In order to minimize their exposure to defensive-zone breakdowns and to maximize the team’s speed and skill, the Penguins have been playing a very tight gap across the neutral zone, funneling San Jose puck carriers toward the end boards and standing up at the red line in order to encourage the Sharks to dump the puck in.

A hallmark of the Mike Sullivan-coached Penguins is the team’s attacking mindset on and off the puck, as evidenced by the way they suppress the San Jose transition game.

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How much is the “best fourth line in hockey” worth?

The New York Islanders agreed to terms Casey Cizikas to a five-year contract extension worth $3.35 million on average per year.

This extension sent shock waves throughout Twitter, Reddit, and discussion boards as it seemed to be a hefty price and term to pay for a member of the team’s fourth line. The Islanders were not without their defenders, though, with many pointing out the “best fourth line” label the trio of Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Cal Clutterbuck are often given.

Prior to debating whether or not the Islander trio is actually the best fourth line ever (or even currently) in hockey, we should ask: How much is the best fourth line in hockey worth?

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