Which NHL teams employ "zone matching" the most?

Cam Charron
June 24 2013 07:31PM


via Wikimedia Commons

With John Tortorella coming to Vancouver, I admit I'm quite curious as to how he stacks up compared to Alain Vigneault in "zone matching", the practice of having your more offensive centremen take faceoffs in the offensive zone and your more defensive forwards take faceoffs in the defensive zone.

Thomas Drance made the point over at Canucks Army that Alain Vigneault is going to become very familiar with Brian Boyle this season. Boyle, like Manny Malhotra or Maxim Lapierre in Vancouver, took a large percentage of his faceoffs in the defensive end, while Brad Richards and Derek Stepan were left with a lot more offensive zone opportunities.

Tortorella, like Vigneault, subscribes to the practice. Here's a primer on zone matching, along with a comment that the practice has become increasingly more common over the last two seasons. Which teams did it the most in 2013?

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Thoughts on the Roman Josi contract

Cam Charron
June 13 2013 01:01PM

If you've been reading me for a couple years, you'd know by now that I have a lot of respect for David Poile and Don Maloney, two general managers who had consecutive playoff appearances despite playing in small markets without big-name stars. Those teams are the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes, respectively, but you could probably add in Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues and Garth Snow of the New York Islanders. The Blues were a floor team this season, won 29 games (4th in the NHL) after a year they won 49 games (also 4th in the NHL). They'll probably have a higher salary cap this season, because they have four of their stars needing new contracts, but they drafted and developed possibly better than any team in the league, finding lots of hidden gems in the later parts of the first round.

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Let's talk about shot blocking

Cam Charron
May 29 2013 03:38PM

It's not that blocked shots aren't important, it's that the team with the most blocked shots isn't necessarily the best team at shot blocking—the team with the most blocked shots is often the one trying to clear the puck out of its own end. Like in that PK above. It's an excellent shift from Tyler Carroll, but I'd bet that Guelph would rather not be down 3-on-5 in that situation.

So a new statistic has popped up: "Percentage of shots blocked" and it's a little dicey as well. Generally speaking, it's just not good to block a lot of shots or to be in situations where you have to block a lot of shots. "Percentage of shots blocked" has been kicking around but I've seen no evidence that it's a repeatable statistic that correlates with winning.

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Kings' assistant Bill Ranford cites Corsi to TSN's Ryan Rishaug

Cam Charron
May 21 2013 09:28PM

I thought this was real cool. At the start of the second period between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, Chris Cuthbert threw it down to reporter Ryan Rishaug for a quick hit where he actually gave some pretty good info as a result of a mid-game interview:

Chris, I spoke with Kings' assistant Bill Ranford at the break I asked 'which part of the stats page makes you the most upset?' He said 'their number of attempts and our lack thereof'. If you consider that San Jose had 15 shots on net, they missed the net eight times and had 14 blocked. That's 37 attempts on net. The Kings had just seven.

There you see the zone time, not even close. Los Angeles with half the offensive zone time that San Jose had. Ranford says 'we are losing every battle in our own end and we are not competing'.

I've screencapped the accompanying graphic, which is some real hipster stuff because you can't find "zone time" anywhere online. It has to be manually tracked. We use Corsi, basically shot attempt differential, as a proxy for zone time, but only because the zone time numbers aren't available. TSN did a great job at showcasing the Sharks' advantage in the first period.

Kudos to Rishaug and TSN there.

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PDO numbers by NHL team - April 22

Cam Charron
April 22 2013 09:46AM

PDO doesn't stand for anything, but that doesn't mean we can't learn anything from adding up the overall shooting and save percentages for a team at even strength. A layman's explanation for 'PDO' and why we use it can be found here over at the Backhand Shelf. Basically, if a team is playing with a PDO number way higher than 1.000, they're producing above their expected output. If a team is playing with a PDO number below 1.000, they're producing below their expected output. Over the course of a long season, the number will generally correct itself.

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