Playing the Cizikas line after scoring: disaster or -- NOT?


There's been a lot of criticism here recently about Cappy's persistence in playing the Cizikas line after scoring goals -- predicated, I believe, on this line's perceived difficulties in driving possession. So I decided to look back and see whether these complaints were supported by the evidence.

Accordingly, I examined the play-by-play logs for each of our 10 games this year, focusing on each of the 32 goals we've scored this season, noting which lines Cappy has put out following the goals, and charting how effective each line has been. The following table summarizes the results:

Line Shifts SOG Goals
Cizikas 21 7 2
Nielsen 5 * 2 1
Tavares 4 ** 1 0
Regin 2 *** 0 0

*includes one 5 second shift at the end of the first period v. Chicago

**includes a shift at the end of the Carolina game with 6 skaters and Nabby pulled

***includes a shift on the power play v Phoenix, after we scored at 5 v 3.

As the table indicates, the Cizikas line has indeed been deployed an overwhelming majority of the time after we score: 21 out of 32 total times. (In fact, the denominator should probably be 29, as three of the non-Cizikas shifts were in unusual game circumstances where there were either 5 seconds left in the period or we had an odd-man skating situation.) In 16 of these 21 times, the Cizikas line did not concede a single shot on goal. In fact, the Cizikas line had been perfect in its first 17 shifts following Islanders goals. However, they have conceded goals in two of their prior four shifts, which suggests a recency bias against the use of the Cizikas line in this role.

Have the other lines been more effective? Well, the Tavares line conceded no goals and only a single SOG in its three regular shifts following Islanders goals. However, Tavares did commit a high-sticking penalty in his shift following the Islanders' second goal against the Sabres, and the Sabres scored on the ensuing PP to tie the score at 2. In comparison, the Cizikas line has a penalty +/- of 0: McDonald took the extra two minutes against the Coyotes when we were already 6-1 to the good, and Martin drew a penalty against the Oilers after we had scored to make it 1-0.

Because the Cizikas line has taken such an overwhelming proportion of the shifts following Islanders goals, there's not a large sample of examples from the other lines against which to compare. The Nielsen line conceded a goal (against the Coyotes) in one of its four meaningful shifts following Islanders goals, which is not a great percentage (albeit a tiny sample). Moreover, since it's generally been the Nielsen line that's been scoring our goals in the first place, it's not reasonable to rely on them to play the ensuing shift as well.

The Regin line has only played one 5 v 5 shift following an Islanders goal -- it was in yesterday's game against the Penguins, in fact -- and may be an alternative Cappy could consider if he doesn't want to play the Cizikas line. (Incidentally, for all the complaints that Cappy always plays the Cizikas line following an Islanders goal, he's actually played a different line in 3 of the past 5 instances: at 4-4 against Vancouver, as well as 1-0 and 3-3 against the Penguins.)

Finally, while this FanPost has only discussed shifts following Islanders goals, one shift that I believe deserves special mention occurred in our game against Edmonton. After the Oilers tied the game at 1-1 on Hall's first goal, Cappy put out the Tavares line. Eight seconds later, Hall scored again to put the Oilers up 2-1. For the ensuing shift, Cappy started the Cizikas line. The line played a long -- 69 second -- shift in which it put 2 shots on goal, had another shot blocked, and ended the shift giving the Islanders an offensive zone faceoff. Short of scoring a goal, it was an otherwise perfect shift at a crucial juncture of the game, and the kind of datum that's easily to overlook when possession stats are aggregated into season-long numbers.

In conclusion, while the Cizikas line has struggled a bit in their past couple of games, the data over all 10 games shows the line has generally been effective in its most important obligation, which is preventing goals and shots on goal. Moreover, over the course of the past two games, where the Cizikas line has not been as effective, Cappy has in fact responded by calling for a different line following 3 of the last 5 Islanders goals. Thus, I believe the criticisms both of Cappy's line choices and the Cizikas line's performance in these circumstances is contradicted by the evidence.

Of course, I welcome comments and contradictory positions below.

<em>Submitted FanPosts do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or SB Nation. If you're reading this statement, you pass the fine print legalese test. Four stars for you.</em>

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Lighthouse Hockey

You must be a member of Lighthouse Hockey to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Lighthouse Hockey. You should read them.

Join Lighthouse Hockey

You must be a member of Lighthouse Hockey to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Lighthouse Hockey. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.