Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quantifying controlled zone-exits

The term "good first pass" is thrown around often to describe defensemen. This post will focus on both how often and how successfully each Montreal Canadiens player moves the puck out of the defensive-zone with puck-possession. Only successful outlet passes, and stretch passes were used in calculating each players success-rate, while defensive-blueline carries were included to help quantify each player's contribution per-60.

Other defensive-zone puck-possession metrics such as d-to-d passes, dump-outs, and dekes were not used, as they do not push possession up-ice, nor do they automatically result in a team moving the puck out of the defensive-zone with control of the puck.

Only even-strength events were used in this post. The post includes data from every Montreal Canadiens 2013-14 regular season and 2014 playoff game. A list of all the events tracked within my system can be found here.


As we can easily see, PK Subban is the Habs most active player when it comes to successfully moving the puck out of the defensive-zone with possession. Subban produced 36.7 successful zone-exits per-60. Andrei Markov produced 33.6 successful zone-exits per-60, while Nathan Beaulieu produced 33.02. Douglas Murray contributed the fewest controlled zone-exits among Habs d-men, as he averaged just 20.5 per-60; over 16-less per-60 than Subban.

Among forwards, Lars Eller averaged  a forward-best 15.3 controlled zone-exits per-60, while Dale Weise averaged 14.8. Rene Bourque (6.6) actually produced fewer controlled zone-exits than George Parros (7.2).


In games where the Habs out-chanced the opposition at even-strength they completed 69.5%  of their attempted outlet and stretch passes. In games where they were out-chanced, they had a success-rate of 68.5%.

Gorges had the top success-rate within this metric among defensemen; followed closely by PK Subban. Among forwards with significant ice-time, Weise, Travis Moen, David Desharnais, and Brendan Gallagher produced the top success-rates. The lowest success-rate when attempting to produced a controlled zone-exit was earned by Thomas Vanek.