Zone entries and scoring chances

So far, every article we've written on zone entries focused on generating shots as the assessment of how successful a given entry was. Questions about shot quality have come up on occasion, so let's look at scoring chances courtesy of Todd's scoring chance tracking.

Entry type Shots/entry Chances/entry Goals/entry
Puck carried in 0.57 0.19 0.046
Puck passed in 0.51 0.19 0.036
Puck deflected in 0.25 0.082 0.016
Puck dumped in 0.22 0.073 0.013
OZ faceoff 0.34 0.14 0.024

It looks pretty clear that chances and goals move in lockstep with shots -- that no entry type (except perhaps faceoffs) is having a significant effect on shot quality. After the jump, we'll revisit yesterday's look at which plays allow the opponent to get a counterattack going.

Entry type Next play is in def zone Next play is scoring chance against Next play is odd man rush against
Carry 50.9% 8.4% 2.4%
Pass 51.4% 9.1% 1.5%
Deflect 51.8% 6.7% 0.8%
Dump 58.7% 9.0% 2.8%

The differences in scoring chances and odd man rushes between dumping and carrying the puck in probably aren't significant, but they certainly don't suggest that dumping the puck in is the safer play. Two things that are worth noting:

First, as mentioned in the comments yesterday, when the fourth line carries the puck into the offensive zone, that leads to a lot of chances against. So while the top 9 should push every marginal edge, the fourth line should be a bit more cautious.

Second, a persistent concern is that dump-ins are made to look worse than they are because a dump-in is often the last resort against a defense that has closed the play off. However, the deflection plays are usually by design (a deflection to negate icing on a long dump-in to a speeding forward), so the comparison is interesting: those plays don't look any more successful than dump-ins at the offensive end, but they may actually limit dangerous counterattacks.

This leaves us with the following picture:

  • Carrying the puck in definitely generates more offense, and should be attempted at every opportunity when trailing.
  • The top 9 should usually try to carry the puck in whenever they can, and top-9 players who often carry the puck in are helping the team with their aggressive play. However, with a lead towards the end of the game there may be cause to run designed dump-in plays that give up fewer counterattacks.
  • The fourth line should carry the puck in when they have a clear opportunity, but should be a bit more cautious with borderline plays.
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