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Score Effects Pt. 1: Protecting A Lead

Score Effects. You may be familiar with this term, but for the uninitiated, a brief explanation. Score Effects is a term used to describe the way teams play in various score situations at full strength (5v5) during a game. When the game is tied or at “Score Close” we tend to see a truer measure of a team’s real strategy and playing ability. Score Close is defined as full strength play when the game is tied or within 1 goal in the first or second period. In the third period, Score Close is a tie game.

When the score is not close, i.e. a team has a 2 or more goal lead in the first or second period, we often see Score Effects come into play. Often when a team has a lead like this, it will play more conservatively. The team goes into a defensive shell to protect the lead. This is usually with the aim of reducing risk or playing it safe. The team down by 2 or more goals wants to bring the score even so it will often take more risk and play a more aggressive style offensively.

These two strategies combine to result in the trailing team making a big offensive push and the leading team struggling to get out of its defensive zone. Essentially, the leading team ends up being bombarded with shots, which we can all agree is far more risky than cycling the puck in the offensive zone, so many people feel that going into a defensive shell with a lead is a mistake. Regardless of the wisdom behind such a strategy, it happens very regularly and with profound effects on the shot totals in a game. This is why you will often see different shot based metrics include a note that the data is from a Score Close situation so it is not artificially inflated or deflated by Score Effects.

While doing some research, I decided to look at shot rates for different teams in a Score Effects situation. If some teams are better at 5v5 play than others, certainly the same must hold true of teams trying to dig themselves out of a hole or keep their opponent from doing so. Initially, I wanted to cover this in one post; however, I came to my senses and realized that would be foolish.

For the first installment in what should be a two or three part series, we will focus on the team playing with the lead. To do this, we will look at shooting and possession metrics for a team when Up 2 or more goals and compare them to how the teams perform at Score Close. When doing a team specific analysis, many more factors such as player usage and deployment, etc. would be considered; however, because the purpose here is to get an overview of the league that type of in-depth team specific analysis is not particularly practical.

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Los Angeles Kings at Chicago Blackhawks

Once More Unto The Breach – The Committed Indian’s Season Preview: The 4th Line

Moving back into our Hawks’ centric season preview, we go to Dennis Kiley who asked what the 4th line will look like this time around.

For most teams this isn’t that important a question. But it is for the Hawks for a couple reasons. One, it’s likely that the Hawks will once again use their 4th line differently than most if not all teams. Second, not all teams are staring down the Kings again and their total depth, which may have been the difference between winning and losing last year and could be again this one (not to mention the Blues, Sharks, and Ducks are going to be pretty deep at forward themselves).

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Dallas Stars v New York Islanders

Once More Unto The Breach – The Committed Indian’s Season Preview: Rules Changes and No HBO

Depart a little from your questions to day and Hawks specific stuff, and go over some rules changes were going to see this season, and some of them might have more effect than you think.

The one I think might go a little under the radar here is that no longer will faceoffs move out of the offensive zone after a shot ends up in the crowd. Even if the shot is fired off the glass and into the crowd, or off the post, or even deflected by a teammate, the ensuing draw is going to stay in the attacking zone.

This will result in more offensive zone draws, which you’d think in theory would lead to more goals. I don’t know that it will. But I do think it’ll make some difference that a defensive team is basically not going to get a “free out” any more, and to exit their zone they’re going to have to get it out themselves. Watch this one closely.

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