Thanks to Sportlogiq and we are able to get in-depth answers to questions about where a player excels or struggles.
Yesterday we looked at who are the best defencemen in the NHL at outlet and stretch passing as well as those who are efficient at transporting the puck out of the defensive zone.
Some of the results were expected, but some players were better or worse than what I’ve read or heard about.
Today we will continue to look at defencemen and which ones are good at offensive zone entries, but also at creating shots and scoring chances after entering the zone.
One of the most common complaints I’ve heard and read in Oilersnation the past few years pertains to Darnell Nurse not making plays when he enters the offensive zone.
Is it true, or is it possible that people focus more on the times he doesn’t make a play and forget the times he does?
Let’s take a look at the Oilers blueliners.
The columns are straightforward:
How many times do they enter the offensive zone with control?
How often did a shot on net occur after entering the zone?
How often did a scoring chance occur after entering the zone?
|Defensemen at 5 on 5||5×5 TOI||Controlled Entries||Controlled Entries with Shot On Net After||Controlled Entries with Scoring Chance After|
Nurse’s skating ability allows him to enter the zone much more frequently than any Oilers defender. He played 63 more minutes than Ethan Bear at 5×5 and had 80 more zone entries.
You can use per game or per/60 and Nurse is clearly the best on the Oilers at entering the zone. Anyone who has watched the games would agree.
But when he enters the zone, what happens?
Turns out that 21.1% of his entries lead to scoring chances. Oscar Klefbom, who is second in zone entries, has 17% of his entries result in scoring chances. More of his resulted in a shot on goal, but not a scoring chance. It would be interesting to watch video as to why. Linemates could have something to do with that. Although Bear and Nurse had identical 34% success rate at entries leading to a shot on goal, while Kris Russell was at 53.8% and he played the fewest minutes among the top-five defenders with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.
Bear turned 24.1% of his zone entries into scoring chances, but he also had 80 fewer entries than Nurse. Would he maintain that rate having 80 more entries? Hard to say, but if the goal is to create scoring chances then Nurse’s 23 are much more impactful than Bear’s seven with similar TOI.
Kris Russell had the best scoring chance on zone entries at 30.7%, but he only had 13 entries.
Nurse created 23 scoring chances off of 109 entries. He isn’t among the league’s elite at creating scoring chances, but he is far from the disaster that many claim and in fact he creates far more chances than any other Oilers defender.
Nurse has areas he can improve in his game, no question. I’m not debating that, but I think the false narrative (play dies when he crosses the blueline) comes from the fact that some times he does enter the zone and nothing happens. And because you see him entering the zone more, it stands out and you focus on those plays more than when he does make a play that leads to a scoring chance.
ACROSS THE LEAGUE…
So how do the Oilers defenders compare to the rest of the NHL? Here are the top-50 in each category.
|Defensemen at 5 on 5||5X5 TOI||Controlled Entries||Top 50||Controlled Entries with Shot On Net After||Top 50||Controlled Entries with Scoring Chance After|
|Roman Josi||1308||278||Roman Josi||106||Roman Josi||79|
|Thomas Chabot||1491||158||Thomas Chabot||63||Thomas Chabot||37|
|Miro Heiskanen||1212||126||Colton Parayko||49||Shea Theodore||35|
|Alex Pietrangelo||1263||119||Miro Heiskanen||49||Nick Leddy||29|
|Shea Theodore||1262||109||Shea Theodore||47||Charlie McAvoy||23|
|Darnell Nurse||1371||109||Alex Pietrangelo||46||Darnell Nurse||23|
|Dmitry Orlov||1275||103||Zach Werenski||40||Adam Fox||21|
|Samuel Girard||1250||99||Darnell Nurse||38||Samuel Girard||21|
|Colton Parayko||1228||99||Adam Fox||34||Colton Parayko||21|
|Mattias Ekholm||1231||98||Seth Jones||33||Alex Pietrangelo||20|
|Nick Leddy||1081||91||Justin Faulk||33||Zach Werenski||20|
|Zach Werenski||1142||90||Nick Leddy||32||Jakob Chychrun||19|
|Ivan Provorov||1216||90||Mike Matheson||32||Erik Gustafsson||19|
|Devon Toews||1163||84||Ivan Provorov||32||Miro Heiskanen||19|
|Justin Holl||1082||83||Charlie McAvoy||31||Quinn Hughes||19|
|Sean Walker||1124||82||Dmitry Orlov||31||Seth Jones||19|
|Cale Makar||921||81||Devon Toews||31||John Klingberg||19|
|Charlie McAvoy||1245||80||Mattias Ekholm||31||Cale Makar||19|
|Quinn Hughes||1132||80||Kevin Shattenkirk||30||Mike Matheson||19|
|Morgan Rielly||877||77||Justin Holl||29||Dmitry Orlov||19|
|Jeff Petry||1272||77||Victor Hedman||28||Tony DeAngelo||18|
|Seth Jones||1062||76||Sean Walker||28||Kevin Shattenkirk||18|
|John Klingberg||1032||75||Jaccob Slavin||28||Ivan Provorov||17|
|Mike Matheson||935||73||Cale Makar||27||Morgan Rielly||17|
|Justin Faulk||1212||70||Tony DeAngelo||27||Devon Toews||17|
|Victor Hedman||1126||70||Jeff Petry||27||Justin Faulk||16|
|Aaron Ekblad||1210||68||Jonas Brodin||27||Victor Hedman||16|
|Jonas Brodin||1246||68||Samuel Girard||26||Justin Holl||16|
|Adam Fox||1113||67||Morgan Rielly||26||Kris Letang||16|
|Brady Skjei||1160||67||Mike Reilly||26||Jeff Petry||16|
|Damon Severson||1191||64||Brady Skjei||26||Nate Schmidt||16|
|Brendan Smith||551||63||Jacob Trouba||26||Sean Walker||16|
|Jaccob Slavin||1233||63||Quinn Hughes||25||Rasmus Dahlin||15|
|Erik Gustafsson||1092||61||John Klingberg||25||John Marino||15|
|Kevin Shattenkirk||1154||61||Kris Letang||25||Brendan Smith||15|
|Jakob Chychrun||1117||60||Rasmus Dahlin||25||Jared Spurgeon||15|
|Tony DeAngelo||1032||59||Damon Severson||25||Vince Dunn||14|
|Rasmus Dahlin||888||59||Vince Dunn||24||John Carlson||13|
|Erik Karlsson||989||58||Noah Hanifin||24||Erik Karlsson||13|
|Vince Dunn||1016||57||Dougie Hamilton||24||Victor Mete||13|
|Brent Burns||1325||57||Erik Gustafsson||23||Mike Reilly||13|
|Mike Reilly||669||56||Aaron Ekblad||23||Damon Severson||13|
|Kris Letang||1149||55||Oscar Klefbom||23||Matt Dumba||12|
|Jared Spurgeon||1018||55||Rasmus Andersson||22||Noah Hanifin||12|
|P.K. Subban||1157||55||Neal Pionk||22||Erik Johnson||12|
|Nate Schmidt||1045||54||Jakob Chychrun||21||Brett Pesce||12|
|Travis Sanheim||1136||53||Erik Karlsson||20||Jaccob Slavin||12|
|Neal Pionk||1303||53||Victor Mete||20||TJ Brodie||11|
|Mikhail Sergachev||1130||52||Brad Hunt||20||Brent Burns||11|
|Rasmus Anderson||1154||50||John Carlsson||19||Aaron Ekblad||11|
Roman Josi is on a different planet, just like he was in zone exits yesterday. He leads the rush more than any D-man in the league. It isn’t close, and I wonder if that’s due to the Predators’ lack of having an elite forward, or the system they play, or simply that he is that much better than every other D-man in carrying the puck. I have to think system plays a factor as John Carlsson didn’t crack the top-50 in zone entries.
I’d love to watch video of Brendan Smith with the Rangers. He was the outlier in creating zone entries with a much lower TOI. He had 63 entries in 551 minutes and he created 15 scoring chances.
Nurse is tied for fifth in the NHL in zone entries, eighth in entries leading to a shot on goal and tied for fifth in entries leading to a scoring chance.
If you wanted to use entries entries/60, he’d still be top-ten.
If he could create four or five more scoring chances then his scoring chance off a zone entry would be 24.7% or 25.6%. That would be ideal, but players like Thomas Chabot, Quinn Hughes, Colton Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo and others were between 21-23%. So 24% might even be too high to expect. Maybe only two or three more chances is realistic.
Only 32 D-men in the NHL created 16 or more scoring chances, and only 11 created 20+ and Nurse was one of them.
I should note that among the top-15 scorers (at 5×5) creating changes off of zone entries wasn’t a must to producing points, but it helps.
Josi 38 points.
Aaron Ekblad 31.
Tony DeAngelo 30
Jaccob Slavin 30
Cale Makar and Ryan Suter 28.
Nurse, Charlie McAvoy, Victor Hedman and Kevin Shattenkirk 26.
Pietrangelo, Chabot, Erik Karlsson and Tyson Barrie 25.
Carlson and Barrie weren’t in the top-50 in zone entries. Ekblad was 27th and tied for 50th in entries creating a scoring chance.
Thanks again to Kenny and the crew at Sportlogiq for helping compile the data. You’re awesome.
I was surprised at the gap on the Oilers blueline in zone entries and scoring chances. I expected Nurse to be at the top, as it is obvious from games he carries the puck more, but the gap was bigger than I expected. And I think it illustrates the need for the Oilers to add some more speed to their backend.
I didn’t have a sense of where Nurse would rank across the NHL, but the numbers illustrate zone entries and creating chances are areas he excels at. I’d like him to be a bit more patient with his D-zone reads and sticking with his man, but I think the narrative that “the play dies when he crosses the blueline,” is much more hyperbole than reality.
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