From the Rampage Desk: A Look at Zone Entries
The beloved Rampage rolled into the All-Star break splitting a pair of games with the San Jose Barracuda. Other than one strong period the scoring drought continued and the chronic issue of opponents adjusting better in the 2nd of 2 game sets was evident.
SAR 3 – SJB 0
Goals: Grimaldi, Kostin, Blais
Shots: 41-29 (59%)
PP 0/1, PK 3/3
SJB 5 – SAR 1
Shots: 22-36 (38%)
PP 0/2, PK 3/4
By the Numbers
All the meaningful goals came in the 1st period of game one. After that they went scoreless for nearly 100 minutes until Trent Vogelhuber broke up Antoine Bibeau’s potential shutout Saturday with less than 5 minutes to go. You could see the Barracuda ramp up the forecheck in the 3rd period of game one and immediately find success. That continued in game 2 and once again San Antonio had no answers. That’s 3 opponents in a row that opted for this strategy and all 3 were able to suppress the Rampage’s time in the offensive zone effectively. Best example was getting outshot 20-4 in the 2nd period of game 2. With the AHL pre-scouting gradually catching up to the NHL level, this really doesn’t bode well for the upcoming Rodeo Road Trip.
Shot Share: 49.2%
Shooting Percentage: 6.4
Save Percentage: 92.3
Two weeks ago we saw high shot count and low shooting percentage, last week we saw low shot count and high shooting percentage and this week both were mediocre. The lineups have been slightly inconsistent due to injuries and the whims of the parent clubs but that happens to everyone and it shouldn’t cause wild swings like this from game to game.
Both Husso and Martin have been quite good this month, until Saturday that is. Marty gave up 3 goals on 16 shots and got pulled 2 minutes into the 2nd period. I really hope this was a move to wake up the team because they were flat out horrible and none of those 3 I’d put directly on him. Husso gave up 2 goals on 20 shots in relief so it’s pretty clear they weren’t the issue. The whole team looked unengaged from start to finish.
Like I’ve done in the past when I can’t catch the game live, I like to focus on tracking something technical like usages and whatnot that’s impossible when viewing in real time. For the first San Jose game I tracked offensive zone entries for the Rampage, more specifically successful zone entries at even strength by each player.
player: # of carries/# of dump-ins
1st line total: 12/2
2nd line total: 9/4
3rd line total: 3/10
4th line total: 9/4
Forward total: 33/20 – 62% carry percentage and 67% of total zone entries
Defense total: 9/17 – 35% carry percentage and 33% of total zone entries
1st period: 14/15
2nd period: 14/13
3rd period: 14/9
Team total: 42/37 (53%)
Even Strength Zone Entries per 60 minutes: 91.2
I have no idea how typical this game was so there’s no reason to extrapolate. They won and dominated shots on goal for 2 periods so it’s a safe bet that this is what they were attempting to do in this particular game. Without Schmaltz and Warsofsky in the lineup it stands to reason that the carry percentage both for the defense and overall is lower than normal and that the defense was low in percentage of zone entries.
In general carries are considered better than dump-ins because you retain possession but for me I like to see a percentage of dumps that’s high enough to push the opponent’s D back so carries are easier. The carries here are slightly misleading because in some cases the puck carrier gained the zone then dumped it in deep for some reason. I do not like to see that. If you go through the trouble to enter the zone with possession then why give it away immediately after?
A few things stand out on a micro level. The 1st line, especially Kostin and Aggz, were very good at gaining the zone with possession. Two of Kostin’s four carry-ins resulted in goals as well. The Girard line was terrible at entries with possession, dumping it in 77% of the time, but accrued 6 SOG so something is working there. I was pretty impressed with the 4th line, Shawn St-Amant had 6 carries/2 dumps and J-C Beaudin had 3 carries/no dumps. For how little they played, the puck found it’s way into the offensive zone often with the 3 youngsters on the ice. Also interesting to note that all four lines had more or less the same amount of zone entries. Coach Veilleux usually tries to roll 4 as evenly as possible but even so this highlights the efficiency of the 4th line. The only knock on them is the fact that 13 zone entries led to only 3 shots on net.
The only defenseman that carried more than dumped was Jesse Graham. Despite his shortcomings in the d-zone he was a positive this way in fairly limited minutes. Andrei Mironov only had 2 zone entries all night, both dump-ins, while getting lots of ice time. His partner Chris Butler wasn’t much better with only 4 zone entries. This is the top pairing by time on ice and they only got the team in the offensive zone 6 times total, just once retaining the puck. Not good.
The Rampage have their one and only February home game Friday night then begin the annual Rodeo Road trip with a bus ride to Cedar Park on Saturday. After that they leave for 7 games in 11 days in the Midwest, get a few days at home then head to the West coast for 5 games in 10 nights. Bonne chance!
Thanks as always to the San Antonio Rampage for the feature photo and the AHL for statistics.
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