When I was looking into the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier I wanted to start getting into how the top teams in the league enter the zone. The Dallas Stars seem terrible at it. They aren’t really terrible at entering the zone, but what they do immediately after they enter the zone tends to be predictable and bad. They also aren’t particularly good at entering the zone with possession either. As with most things related to this team the Stars are good enough to be respectable, but can’t reasonably play with the big kids.
Why is it important to enter the zone with possession? From a statistical perspective it leads to more shots. NHL teams take about .66 shots per zone entry with possession of the puck. That drops to around .26 shots per entry when they dump the puck in. It may not seem like much, but it is. If a team dumped the puck in 100% of the time they would take about 40 less shots attempts per 100 entries compared to a team that always carried the puck in. If a team is shooting 5% on shot attempts we’re talking two to three goals difference on those 100 entries. Think about how many times a team enters the zone per game.
It’s a big deal.
The Stars are actually middle of the pack in possession entries per the data tracked by Corey Sznajder. I don’t think that accurately reflects how serious the problem is though. When you compare the Stars to most of the top teams in the league a pattern emerges.
Many of the better teams in the league are led in entries by their star talent, and many teams in the league have many players who would lead the Stars in controlled entries.
The Calgary Flames are a weird exception.
The Avalanche have four players who have more success entering the zone than the Stars top forward including two of their very best in Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Going back over Tampa Bay is a bit redundant. You get the point from this article. They’re way better. We get it.
Nashville has four skaters show up prior to Janmark. Among those are most of their key forwards.
San Jose Sharks
San Jose has five above Janmark. They also have seven of the top ten.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto: five before Janmark and seven of the top ten.
Winnipeg has three before Janmark and six of the top ten.
Washington has three before Janmark before the Stars rattle some off, but the three ahead of Janmark are considerably ahead of him.
I have to reiterate that this is 10-15% of a season’s worth of data so far so these numbers could be worse, and to be honest I wouldn’t be shocked if they were. The Stars seem to be trending in the wrong direction with the eye test,
So yes, the Stars as a group are in the middle of the pack when it comes to entering the zone with possession. They do it without the top end entry ability of many of the better teams in the league. Watching the Los Angeles Kings and Jack Campbell (!!!!) gobble up the Stars tonight made this seem like a relevant post to get into the world.
This team is screwed unless they find out how to enter the zone more effectively soon.