Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flow of Play

So I've been thinking about a way to contribute to the knowledge base here next year (and perhaps a bit during the summer depending on the availability of video) and decided that it would be a good thing to track the flow of play for at least some (and perhaps all) of the Oiler games next season, depending on how interested folks are in that kind of data. I haven't tracked zone time here because I thought that I might be able to do something a little bit easier that would still be helpful. It looks reasonable to me, but I think actual zone time is probably better. Nonetheless, here are the criteria that I used in tracking the first period of Game 5 between the Wings and Pens:

1. At the start of the game the puck is considered in the defensive zone of the road team.
2. The puck is considered as entering the other team's zone when it has been there for five seconds or if a faceoff causes the puck to changes zones (icing call, penalty call) or if a goal is scored.
3. The puck is always considered in the zone of one team or another.

This was supposed to offer a mix of puck position and puck possession and give an indication of which team was carrying the play. I do think it does that, but I also think we lose something but not having any "neutral zone" time and not giving the opposing team credit for clearing it out of their zone. Anyway, I'll put up the results so that we can at least have a preliminary look:

Even Strength:
Puck in "Detroit D Zone" - 9:01
Puck in "Pittsburgh D Zone" - 8:38
Time in zone before Detroit Goal - 0:03

Pittsburgh on Power Play
Puck in "Detroit D Zone" - 0:50
Puck in "Pittsburgh D Zone" - 1:10

Detroit on Power Play
Puck in "Detroit D Zone" - 0:16
Puck in "Pittsburgh D Zone" - 0:05

I think there's real potential for the data. We could potentially answer questions like, "Is Corsi a good proxy for zone time?" or "How many goals scored off the rush?" The main reason for this post is to ask the community (and mostly Vic... the link to time on ice is to make sure he reads it... heh...) some questions. Is this something people would like tracked (either in this simpler version or actual zone time)? In that I actually have all of the precise times noted would it be possible for me to submit those into a shift chart so we could see how individual players are doing (Vic?)? Anyway, feedback is most welcome.

8 comments: said...

Nice. You know, I was thinking, it'd be really cool if someone (with more programming chops than me) wrote a simple program that we could all use to easily track zone time on our computers during games.

Like, maybe some kind of basic thing that had a running stopwatch, and you just click a button for Team A's zone, and a different button for Team B's zone, and the program calculates it all for you. It doesn't sound like something that would be too complicated, and it seems like it would motivate a lot of us to track this stuff. Right now the pain in the ass of it is probably what's holding us back. Out of curiosity, what did you use? Just a basic stopwatch?

Scott said...

Stopwatches!? What you think I'm a technology wizard!?

No, I used the game clock actually and then added it up afterwards. That's why I have all the times possession changed noted. So, in the first two minutes we had:

Pit Def Zone: 20:00
Det: 19:41
Pit: 18:51
Det: 18:42
Pit: 18:34
Det: 18:16

I didn't put all that info up because I thought it might be cumbersome. I would want to keep doing this because then, at least in theory, we could start tracking this stuff for individual players by comparing it with the shift charts.

Also, the Society of Biblical Literature is meeting in New Orleans this year. I'm not too sure if I'm going to be coming down but if I am I'll need to bombard you with questions about the places to go. We could even get together at bar to watch a game.

MattM said...


Sure, as long as you don't mind it being Windows only. Just a little app that you can click buttons on while watching the game? said...

Scott, New Orleans is an awesome city.

MattM, anything you could concoct would be great imo. Windows is perfect.

Ideally here's how I'd see it working in my dreams...

I have a master clock that counts down from 20 minutes. I can start and stop it at will, as well as rewind and fast forward it.

The clock and its controls sit at the top of the screen. Then there's a big rink-looking rectangle separated into four parts (representing the two neutral zones and two attacking zones). I can label which team is defending which side of the rink. (So if the Devils are playing the Rangers, before the game starts I just type "Devils" into one side of the rectangle and "Rangers" into the other side to reflect how it looks on my TV.)

Ok, then the game starts, and I click start on my clock. As soon as the puck moves into one of the four zones, I click that zone on my screen and the program is keeping track of it. When the puck moves into another zone I click on that zone and the program keeps track of it.

Then ideally at the end of the period I can get the program to give me a readout of how long the puck was in each zone. Preferably there's like a checkbox at the top where I can click ES, PP, or PK. So then the readouts look something like:

ES Devils defensive zone: 7min 32 sec
ES Devils neutral zone: 3min 21 sec
PP Rangers defensive zone: 2min 3 sec
etc, etc

That sound doable?

MattM said...

Sunny, that sounds fairly reasonable. Presumably the rewind/fastforward is for occassions where you would be watching it on video or something and could jump around a bit? That may or may not be a bit tricky. Probably doable though.

Do you want the zones to keep matching what you'd see on your TV in the second period too, or should one side stay home and the other stay away?

To get the PP/ES breakdowns, you'll have to hit a button whenever a penalty gets called. I might as well throw in scoring chance and goal buttons as well. It's not going to be done before tomorrow night's game, so I've got all summer.

Given the time I've got, I might even be able to get it to pull stuff like shift chart data after the game and cross-reference everything... but I'm getting way ahead of myself there. said...

Dude that sounds awesome. You'll be a hero around here! We can get a whole bunch of people to download the thing and track games for different teams. Sounds fantastic.

Ideally I think being able to have the program switch sides after each period would be good. I feel like it'll be a lot easier (and less prone to mistakes) for us to have our screen look like the TV. And yeah, the rewind/ff thing would just be if play stops and we're a few seconds late stopping our clock, etc.


Black Dog said...

Scott - Jenn and I were in N.O. in '99

One of a kind city - visit it if you can.

And great idea btw ;)

Vic Ferrari said...

That would be very cool imo. I think that MattM's app would be a necessity though, it would be hell of a chore otherwise.

And yeah, it wouldn't take much to see each players individual EV, PP and PK zone times. Just an adaptation of the scoring chance script I wrote for Dennis.

It would also give us a measure of the direction that individual lines and pairings (and eventually players) were driving possession, on the whole.

Teams record zone time as well (though I suspect the NHL still does this for them, they just don't publish it). You sometimes here coaches quoting it. So it might be worth politely asking someone at the NHL to publish zone data in the same form as TOI data. Worth a try, anyways, never hurts to ask.

Dennis has really started a trend, it appears. Hopefully he 'franchises' out his scoring chance stuff as well.