Islanders Review: Neutral Zone Analysis Through 32 Games

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Again, I've been tracking Islanders Neutral Zone Play this year and finally have on-ice results through 32 games (Pre-Strome, sorry). The following 3 graphs generally sum up my results - I don't have time for a big post, so this will be just a key data dump:


This graph above shows the % of entries made by each player with control on the Y Axis (in other words, % that aren't dump/tip-ins) and the x-axis shows the role of each player in doing so. So a player on the right side of the graph takes a higher burden at getting the puck into the offensive zone than a player on the left side (so naturally, D Men are all on the left side). Being in the top right shows you're an elite NZ Player, so of course John Tavares is there of course.

Quick things of note: Colin McDonald for the second straight year takes a large Neutral Zone role and for a second straight year, he definitely should stop doing so - he dumps like crazy (he did this last year not on 4th line, so it's not a line thing). Clutterbuck is similar. By contrast, Thomas Vanek takes just as little a role in the neutral zone as Matt Moulson, although he's clearly better than Moulson at it.

Now that's offensive neutral zone performance. How about Defensive?


This graph above shows how OPPONENTS do with each individual Islander on the ice. Being at the top right of the graph is BAD - it means that opponents are entering the Isles' zone frequently with a player on the ice AND are doing so via carry-in - while being in the bottom left is good. Unsurprisingly, Frans Nielsen's line is all in the bottom left corner.

Two amusing outliers - PMB allowed very few opposing entries, but allowed a bunch of carries, and Calvin deHaan has allowed a lot of entries, but very few by carry-ins. Both guys are thus overall decent defensively in this area. By contrast, Andrew MacDonald is in the upper right for a second straight year, which is....not good.

Let's put it all together:


This final graph shows both defensive and offensive neutral zone performance of the Isles while each Islander (except Boulton, who's actually below the chart hilariously) is on the ice. The Y axis shows how well a player offensively plays in the neutral zone - the higher the better, while the X axis shows how well a player plays defensively in the neutral zone - the more left, the better.

(For those curious, the #s are "Neutral Zone Fenwick" - which measures the expected # of shots on goal and missed shots per 60 based upon the number and type of zone entries while each player is on the ice.)

The diagonal line is the break-even line: All Isles above that line are winning the neutral zone battle, all Isles below that line are losing. So Six Isles players are clearly winning the NZ battle: The Nielsen line, Bouchard, Nelson, and Hamonic. 8 are badly losing it - Boulton (not shown), McDonald, Martin, Regin, Radek, Cizikas, Strait, and Carkner.

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