Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Data Mining -- The Florida Power Play

In his latest edition of his "Tuesday 10," E.J. Hradek says the following about the Florida power play:
"If you're wondering how the Lightning gave up five power-play goals in a single game, here's one telling stat: They lost 12 of 16 short-handed faceoffs. When you consistently lose possession of the puck off the draw in the defensive zone, you're putting yourself in danger."
Yup, sure enough, Florida was 12-for-16 on the power play.  But there is more to this story.  Looking only at draws taken in the Florida offensive zone, Stephen Weiss was 8-1 all by himself.  Tomas Kopecky took one (an won it).  Of those ten draws, here is how they played out:

1.  Weiss (win) at 4:35 of 1st period/goal scored by Kopecky at 6:15.  According to the NHL.com play-by-play record, there were no intervening events outside the Florida offensive zone.  Chalk one up for O-zone faceoff wins.

2.  Weiss (win) at 14:09 of 1st period.

3.  Weiss (win) at 16:21 of 1st period/goal scored by Weiss at 17:12.  No intervening events outside the Florida offensive zone.

4. Kopecky (win) at 0:46 of 2nd period.

5. Weiss (win) at 1:43 of 2nd period/goal by Versteeg at 2:35.  Between these events Tampa Bay won a neutral zone faceoff.

6.  Weiss (win) at 18:39 of 2nd period/(end of period).

7.  Weiss (win) at 8:33 of 3rd period.

8.  Weiss (win) at 15:52 of 3rd period.

9.  Weiss (loss) at 16:02 of 3rd period/goal by Garrison at 16:47

10.  Weiss (win) at 19:28 of 3rd period/(end of period, but Tampa Bay did record two shots on goal).

Fine so far, although this is one instance.  But consider this, too.  Of the five power play goals scored by Tampa Bay in this game, they came from an average of more than 40 feet (according to distances recorded in the NHL.com play-by-play record).  They were not exactly standing on the door-step.

Each of the five goals had a story, though...

1.  Kopecky at 6:15/1st.  The goal was scored from 56 feet, but it clearly hit a Tampa Bay defenseman's stick in front of goalie Dwayne Roloson and changed direction on its way to the net.

2.  Weiss at 17:12/1st.  Scored from a distance ot 47 feet, Roloson looked to be screened by his own player.

3.  Versteeg at 2:35/2nd.  A 20-fotter, Roloson looked to be slow getting across his crease to defend against a shot coming from a cross-ice pass.

4.  Versteeg at 0:26/3rd.  A goal from 26 feet out, looked to beat Roloson cleanly on short side.

5.  Garrison at 16:47/3rd.  Scored from 59 feet through a nice screen set up in front of Roloson, but that goal came after Florida lost the preceding faceoff.

What to conclude?  The notion that taking a lot of shorthanded faceoffs -- and losing them -- especially in one's own zone is a bad way to play a hockey game.  But it looks as if only two of the five goals can be attributed to that factor.  One of those ended up being scored as a result of bad luck (if you are Roloson), it being scored off a teammate's stick deflection.  By the same token, if you don't lose that D-zone faceoff, you aren't put in a situation where that can happen.  Another came on what looked like a screen by Roloson's own teammate, but again...don't lose the D-zone faceoff, and it might not have unfolded that way.

Two other goals looked to be on Roloson for not being in a good position to stop the puck, and the fifth was off a long shot through a maze of players, the kind of play that doesn't depend on losing a D-zone draw.

A lot of things go into allowing (or scoring) power play goals, but two things we can safely say about this as the game is about to begin in another 90 minutes or so between the Caps and Panthers.  One, Stephen Weiss seems to be pretty good about winning offensive zone draws on the power play.  Second...

...don't take so many penalties.

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