Balanced Zone Shift Leaders and Cabooses, 2007-08 to 2010-11

Please, Blair, please come back.

Taking the Expected Zone Shifts from last week, I wanted to apply that to single-season player performances over the last four seasons to see whose Zone Shifts exceeded and fell below expectations.  "Adjusted Zone Shift" has already been taken, so I'm going to identify the differential of Expected and Actual Zone Shift as Balanced Zone Shift, or BZS.  By calculating the BZS over these seasons, I can look for trends in terms of player types as well as look to see if there's any correlation to overall team performance.  

Some of the initial results might surprise you...and I can guarantee you some of them won't at all.

So, what were the best performances in BZS these last four years?

Player --------------------- Season ---------- BZS

Blair Betts ---------------- 2008-09 --------- 8.3

Nick Schultz -------------- 2008-09 --------- 7.4

Kurt Sauer ---------------- 2008-09 --------- 7.2

Scott Nichol -------------- 2010-11 --------- 7.2

Jay Harrison ------------- 2010-11 --------- 6.8

Matt Cooke --------------- 2007-08 --------- 6.3

Manny Malhotra --------- 2010-11 --------- 6.3

Jerred Smithson ------- 2007-08 ---------- 6.3

Lubomir Visnovsky ---- 2008-09 ---------- 6.3

Adam Foote ------------- 2010-11 ---------- 6.2

Adam Pardy ------------- 2009-10 ---------- 6.2

Robert Lang ------------- 2009-10 ---------- 6.2

Now that is a list of unheralded players.  A good number are defensive-minded forwards and defensemen, but Lang and Visnovsky are the beginning of a number of offensive-minded and two-way players on the BZS list, including Milan Michalek (2008-09, 6.0), Pavel Datsyuk (2010-11, 5.6), and Alexander Semin (2008-09, 5.4).  In fact, when I graphed out Zone Start % versus BZS, the player types/deployment were all over the place, so I'd hesitate to say that solely defensive players are favored by BZS.  On the other hand, looking at the players bringing up the caboose in BZS reveals some pretty obvious player types:

Player --------------------- Season ----------- BZS

Aaron Downey ---------- 2007-08 ---------- -12.1

Derek Boogaard ------- 2008-09 ---------- -11.6

Kris Russell ------------- 2008-09 ---------- -10.6

Colton Orr ---------------- 2010-11 ---------- -10.5

Derek Armstrong ------- 2008-09 ----------- -8.5

Marc-Andre Bergeron - 2008-09 ----------- -8.1 

Eric Godard -------------- 2008-09 ----------- -7.6

Bryan Berard ------------ 2007-08 ----------- -7.5

Jody Shelley ------------- 2010-11 ----------- -7.5

Raitis Ivanans ---------- 2009-10 ----------- -7.3

Hmmm, see a trend?  Downey's 2007-08 was particularly remarkable in that the Red Wings gave him 82% of his starts in the offensive zone.  82%.  He scored zero goals.  Lest you be concerned, John Scott makes an appearance near the bottom (2010-11, -7.2) as does Zack Stortini (2010-11, -6.6).  Interestingly enough, so does Brad Richards (2008-09, -7.0).  In sum, I think BZS in this instance is quite accurately identifying players that most of us would agree are not particularly good defensively or in general.  At least not at the hockey part of the game.

As most people do after compiling a bunch of data, I will be farting around with Zone Starts a bit more in the coming weeks.

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