FanPost

Early Player Deployment

It's only two games so it doesn't mean a whole lot, but I thought I'd put together a quick recap of how Capuano has deployed our players. Numbers via the super cool extraskater.com.

Forwards Lines

I'm going to use centers as line proxies since we've seen very little shuffling through two games. Rather than list all of the zone starts, I'm going to use extraskater's O/DSt%, which they define as "Offensive zone starts at EV / (offensive + defensive zone starts at EV)." In other words, it takes out neutral zone starts, which generally seem to be evenly distributed, and looks at what percent of the remaining ones come in the offensive zone. All numbers are for even strength play only. In the last column, I've noted the change from last season's numbers (I used Keith Aucoin for Regin's comparison).

Player

O/DSt%

%change

John Tavares

68.8%

+6.9%

Peter Regin

60.0%

+12%

Frans Nielsen

38.9%

-8.5%

Casey Cizikas

31.3%

-13.8%

Again, it's too early to read into it, but there is a notable change in the deployment of the third and fourth lines. Perhaps they feel like Nelson and Bouchard bring a lot more traditional offense to the table than Aucoin and Grabner did. Or maybe they're trying to shelter Nelson a bit. Either way, they are getting a lot more minutes designed to produce shots.

On the flip side, the fourth line is really being buried in the defensive zone. A number like that would have had Cizikas down with the Couturiers and Grabovskis last year-the leaders in Dzone starts.

If you're doing the math in your head, you'll realize that last year, the bottom three lines all had an O/DStart% in the 45-48% range-not much of a difference in roles there. Again, it's very early, but if this keeps up, it means Capuano is looking for distinctly different things from his lines this year. There are two offensive lines, and two defensive lines. And given Grabners' penchant for creating offense from the DZone, it's hard to see him being moved off of Nielsen's line if this usage keeps up.

Defensive Pairs

Like the forwards, I've chosen one defensemen to represent the pair, in part because the Islanders did so little swapping around last year of partners. I used Streit as a proxy for Strait last year, since they both played together and Streit played the full season.

Player

O/DSt%

%change

Travis Hamonic

51.7%

+5.1%

Lubomir Visnovsky

50.0%

-7.7%

Brian Strait

40%

-16%%

Here we see that Hamonic and MacDonald's role has changed a decent amount. Last year, among defensemen with 36+ games played, only 20 defensemen had a lower O/DSt% than Hamonic. They played the tough minutes, and, as it's been documented, it showed in their possession numbers. This year, we're looking at a much more even split between them and Visnovsky/Hickey. I will be interested to see how the four player's possession numbers change if this deployment keeps up (my guess is they'll even out a good bit).

The deployment of the third pair is pretty interesting, and I don't have much of an answer for it. I'd have assumed they'd look to give Donovan more sheltered minutes, as well as a chance to utilize his offensive skill. That doesn't seem to be the case so far, but could be a result of the small sample size. Or perhaps, they don't feel the need to shelter that pair as much as they did when Streit was on it. Worth watching going forward.

So, as I said at the start, I wouldn't read too much into any of this just yet. But I wanted to provide an outline for what's happened so far, and things I'm going to be keeping an eye on going forward.

Note: Tyler Dellow has been doing some interesting work (eg here and here) regarding Zone starts that I recommend reading to potentially impart some further meaning onto these stats. There are some strong implications about zone start effects on possession numbers.

<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>

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