This is the type of entry most likely to be made by a leading team – an odd man rush Carry-In against a d-man conceding the zone (the legendary Andrew MacDonald). Image courtesy of http://www.BroadStreetHockey.com
We know a decent amount about score effects in the game of hockey at this point. We know the obvious: teams play “conservatively” and shell up when leading and become more aggressive when trailing, resulting in the leading team taking less shots and the trailing team taking more.
Less obviously (at first glance anyhow), We also know that the leading team’s shooting % increases substantially when compared to when that same team is tied (Graph courtesy of new Hockey-Graphs writer Petbugs), while the trailing team’s shooting % either increases barely or stays the same as it does when tied.
As detailed earlier on this site this results in the trailing teams tending to score more than leading teams, especially in late.
But what we haven’t really detailed is some of the mechanics of “How” this happens. Some have suggested its because teams may change their systems with a lead or deficit. Others, such as Justin Bourne , have suggested the effect is mainly the result of psychological effects – no one wants to take the risky play when leading and possibly cause the opponent to get the tieing goal as a result of a risk, so players stop taking as many risks when leading even though the coach is preaching the same scheme. But little attention has been paid to seeing if any of these things are true, whether via a statistical analysis or via some systems breakdown.
So what I’m going to do in this post is attempt to break down how score effects change how the neutral zone is played. And by doing so, we can by extension, try to get a better picture of how the play in the other two zone is affected by score effects.