The 2015-16 Calgary Flames zone entry rundown

After hours and hours of pouring over game tape, we finally have our second complete year of Calgary Flames zone entry data. What began in 2014-15 as a simple way of seeing which players were getting puck touches and driving play has been tweaked a bit this season to add some context to each player’s performance.

In 2014-15, the Flames had roughly 7,544 zone entries (and a 40.77% carry-in rate). In 2015-16, they had 7,271 zone entries (and a 45.92% carry-in rate). That amounts to more carries and a bit more zone time, something corroborated by their improved team-wide Corsi, but also meant fewer entries overall as a result.

Are the Flames becoming a better possession team? Somewhat. And one signal that it’s happening is they appear to be making smarter decisions with the puck as they enter the zone, holding onto it more often and attempting to make things happen.

Let’s dig into the numbers, shall we?

CARRY-IN RATES

Players are listed with their 2014-15 carry-in rates in brackets, if applicable.

Defensemen

  • Oliver Kylington – 100.0%
  • T.J. Brodie – 41.5% [42.1%]
  • Dougie Hamilton – 33.0%
  • Dennis Wideman – 26.9% [32.4%]
  • Mark Giordano – 24.4% [26.6%]
  • Deryk Engelland – 18.9% [13.6%]
  • Jyrki Jokipakka – 18.6%
  • Kris Russell – 17.0% [20.8%]
  • Jakub Nakladal – 12.7%
  • Brett Kulak – 11.8% [0.0%]
  • Ladislav Smid – 10.0% [7.6%]
  • Tyler Wotherspoon – 3.9% [0.0%]
  • Patrick Sieloff – 0.0%

The usual “sample size” warnings for Kylington, Kulak, Wotherspoon and Sieloff here. But it’s encouraging to see Brodie leading the way and jumping into the rush as much as he did last season. And Hamilton’s addition to the fold nicely fit in with the attributes Brodie and Giordano brought to the table from last season. Aside from a slight dip in carries for Wideman and a bump up from Engelland, the defense was roughly the same as it was in 2014-15.

    Forwards


    • Johnny Gaudreau – 74.0% [66.1%]
    • Mikael Backlund – 62.5% [52.5%]
    • Sam Bennett – 62.4% [62.5%]
    • Sean Monahan – 61.5% [52.0%]
    • Kenny Agostino – 60.0%
    • Joe Colborne – 50.0% [44.4%]
    • Micheal Ferland – 49.3% [32.6%]
    • Matt Stajan 44.8% [42.3%]
    • Derek Grant – 43.6%
    • Garnet Hathaway – 43.4%
    • Jiri Hudler – 43.2% [39.5%]
    • Mason Raymond – 42.4% [44.8%]
    • Michael Frolik – 40.6%
    • Josh Jooris – 39.7% [41.3%]
    • Markus Granlund – 39.5% [41.4%]
    • Hunter Shinkaruk – 38.5%
    • David Jones – 37.2% [37.2%]
    • Lance Bouma – 36.1% [33.0%]
    • Brandon Bollig – 32.3% [21.9%]
    • Emile Poirier – 30.0% [40.0%]
    • Freddie Hamilton – 27.3%
    • Turner Elson – 25.0%
    • Drew Shore – 0.0% [28.6%]

    Sample size warnings for Agostino, Hamilton, Elson and Shore. So, somehow Johnny Gaudreau, driver of Calgary’s offense in 2014-15, became even more dominant in 2015-16. Backlund took a big leap forward in holding onto the puck, Monahan took a moderate leap forward, and Bennett maintained his Game 82 pace from 2014-15 over the course of a full NHL season. This is all great news. Colborne and Ferland also took big steps forward, which should bode well for their futures as complementary pieces to the core players.

    The remainder of the team is more or less unchanged from last season (aside from an unexpected surge in carries from Bollig), though it’s pretty amusing that Granlund was traded for a player with a virtually identical carry-in rate. Granted, Shinkaruk didn’t play a ton and I’d expect his numbers to be closer to Ferland’s over a full season depending on who he plays with and his deployments.

    It probably also shouldn’t shock anybody that the Flames that hold onto the puck more (and have higher carry-in rates) tend to be the team’s better puck possession players.

      RAW NUMBERS

      Who are the Flames’ leaders at the different types of zone entries?

      All Entries:

      • 772 – Gaudreau
      • 512 – Backlund
      • 476 – Bennett
      • 462 – Monahan
      • 446 – Colborne

      Carry-Ins: (Zone entries without loss of control)

      • 571 – Gaudreau
      • 320 – Backlund
      • 297 – Bennett
      • 284 – Monahan
      • 223 – Colborne

      Dump-and-Change: (Uncontrolled entries with aim of buying time for line change)

      • 26 – Bennett
      • 23 – Gaudreau
      • 15 – Jooris
      • 15 – Giordano
      • 14 – Backlund

      Dump-and-Chase: (Uncontrolled entries followed by immediate puck pursuit)

      • 168 – Giordano
      • 161 – Hamilton
      • 138 – Frolik
      • 119 – Colborne
      • 112 – Russsell

      Missed: (Attempted passes or entries that made it in legally, but looked wonky)

      • 50 – Brodie
      • 46 – Hamilton
      • 42 – Giordano
      • 34 – Gaudreau
      • 25 – Wideman

      Pass: (A pass across the blueline to gain entry)

      • 25 – Gaudreau
      • 20 – Backlund
      • 15 – Brodie
      • 13 – Bennett
      • 10 – several tied

      Tip-Ins: (Like a dump-in, except with even less possession or control)

      • 66 – Jones
      • 64 – Colborne
      • 51 – Hudler
      • 48 – Stajan
      • 42 – Gaudreau

      Penalty Kill Dumps: (Strategy-less dump-ins on the penalty kill)

      • 55 – Giordano
      • 50 – Brodie
      • 34 – Frolik
      • 27 – Backlund
      • 26 – Russell

      Carries Per 60 Minutes (NHL Regulars):

      • 21.75 – Gaudreau
      • 15.28 – Bennett
      • 12.09 – Colborne
      • 11.99 – Ferland
      • 11.25 – Backlund

      Entries Per 60 Minutes (NHL Regulars):

      • 29.41 – Gaudreau
      • 24.49 – Bennett
      • 24.31 – Ferland
      • 24.25 – Frolik
      • 24.17 – Colborne

      Raise your hand if you’re shocked that Gaudreau is leading in so many categories!

      The “per 60 minutes” metric is essentially a “who has the puck when they hit the blueline and has to make decisions most frequently” list, and really none of these names are overly surprising. Lots of wingers high on the list, primarily because the Flames’ offensive system seems to be predicated on centers helping transition the puck out of the defensive zone to speedy wingers (who gain the zone), and then the center and defenders acting as secondary and tertiary waves of players to pass to as they enter the zone.

      SUM IT UP

      If you’re looking for an indicator of which players are Calgary’s best, zone entry figures can provide some handy context. Gaudreau, Bennett, Backlund and Monahan hold onto the puck as they enter the zone and, not coincidentally, are able to wreak havoc on opposition defenses. Colborne and Ferland are also high up on the list, but haven’t quite turned puck possession in the offensive zone into dangerous chances (though Colborne did that a LOT more in the second half of the season).

      Colborne told me last season that the decision to dump the puck or not was largely determined by a player’s role on the team. The numbers this year suggest that Hartley may have eased up on that requirement a little bit, or given his key players a bit more leash to make those decisions on a situational basis.

        • Baalzamon

          Backlund took a big leap forward in holding onto the puck, Monahan took a moderate leap forward

          So a 10-point jump is a “big leap” but a 9.5-point jump is a “moderate leap”.

        • Greatsave

          I’d like to see some context, e.g. how does this compare with the rest of the league, or how it compares with zone entries allowed by the Flames.

          Do these datasets even exist?

        • Slowmo

          I am very surprised with Bennett not at all with JH he is the face of the franchise to this point what a steal at 4th round pick since then every team is looking at the smaller more talented players. The big guys will always make your team in the play offs as san jose has shown and the blues but the smaller player can really push a team in the reg part of the season. With ferly and Joe C and perhaps Austin Carrol and maybe Hunter we could be a big brusing team with lots of Skill on each line. Heres hoping. Lets grab Nylander he will be a very skill full player a lot like JH with more size.