With John Tortorella coming to Vancouver, I admit I’m quite curious as to how he stacks up compared to Alain Vigneault in “zone matching”, the practice of having your more offensive centremen take faceoffs in the offensive zone and your more defensive forwards take faceoffs in the defensive zone.
Thomas Drance made the point over at Canucks Army that Alain Vigneault is going to become very familiar with Brian Boyle this season. Boyle, like Manny Malhotra or Maxim Lapierre in Vancouver, took a large percentage of his faceoffs in the defensive end, while Brad Richards and Derek Stepan were left with a lot more offensive zone opportunities.
Tortorella, like Vigneault, subscribes to the practice. Here’s a primer on zone matching, along with a comment that the practice has become increasingly more common over the last two seasons. Which teams did it the most in 2013?
Well, it was Vancouver and Alain Vigneault, obviously.
The way I determine this is I look at the zone start numbers on Behind the Net dot ca, and take the four players on each team who were in the top four in faceoffs taken for any given team. I subtract their defensive zone starts by their offensive zone starts, then take the difference between the top offensive centreman and top defensive centreman.
Example… in Vancouver, Henrik Sedin started 330 shifts in the offensive zone and 188 in the defensive. That’s a difference of +142. Lapierre was 90 in the offensive zone and 251 in the defensive zone, for a difference of -161. The overall difference between +142 and -161 is 303. I’d do this for every team.
Here’s the chart:
|TEAM||Overall Diff||Top Offensive||Top Defensive|
And here it is, visually:
So Tortorella employed zone matching quite often. Surprisingly, Mike Yeo in Minnesota caught onto the practice, sheltering his top forward Mikko Koivu while Kyle Brodziak took 264 defensive zone draws for the Wild.
Does zone matching help your team? I think if you strike the right balance. The goal is to keep your most offensive players away from the top defensive players on the other team. Sometimes the personnel works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Anyway, I find crap like this interesting.