hockey powerplay

Dictating Shot Quality & Defensive Zone Coverage on the Powerplay

In Coaching Hockey by Ryan Stimson1 Comment

Last time, we talked about how special teams play in hockey is often matchup based due to coaching choices and so we should analyze it that way to gain an edge. The previous piece I wrote was focused on breakout plays and the corresponding forecheck. Today, we’re going to talk about puck movement in the offensive zone once the PP sets up.

Many fans have watched their team move the puck along the perimeter at varying speeds with varying success as well. One of the things I wanted to look at was how, if at all, did the location of the puck influence the penalty killing team’s coverage. More specifically, were teams more or less likely to adopt an aggressive posture based on the puck’s location?

To answer this, we have to look at a few other factors first: 1) Which defensive zone coverages yielded higher quality chances; and 2) from where on the ice could we create the most dangerous chances from? We’ll start with shot density maps against the following coverage schemes – a Czech Press, a Wedge +1, and no obvious structured formation. The way to read these is if an area is darker, there are more shots taken from that area. Observe the shot densities against a Czech Press.

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About the Author
Ryan Stimson

Ryan Stimson

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Ryan has written extensively on hockey analytics since 2013. He has pioneered work in player evaluation and game strategy, leading the popular Passing Project for several seasons. Ryan has contributed on analytics and published new research at Hockey Graphs, but also has written on using data to better evaluate hockey tactics. He consulted for RIT Men’s Hockey Team from 2015 - 2018 and coached a 14U team as well. Ryan is a Certified Level III USA Hockey Coach. He has published a book you can buy on Amazon, Tape to Space: Redefining Modern Hockey Tactics, that draws on insights gained from data analysis to optimize how teams should play hockey.

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    I just love the plays off the behind-the-goal area. You can plant so much confusion in the defending team by forcing them to cover the area in front and behind them. And exchanging positions in the slot and activating the point player will only add to the strain and should result in one of your players being open in a promising position.

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