Aside: I wasn't able to track the Leafs - Hawks game from Saturday due to the NHL Gamecenter blackout restrictions. It'll be included in next week's data.
A few notes on how to read the charts: The "Close" columns indicate which events a player was involved in while the game was within a goal in the 1st or 2nd periods, and a tie game in the 3rd period. The columns that do not have the "Close" designation represent a player’s stats during non-close situations. Obviously.
You’ll see a sortable excel table for each team’s stats. You can filter by individual player, position, position grouping, and team totals if you wish. You can also download or open up the full gamesheet I use when tracking in another window. One note on the charts: the totals may appear to be incorrect at first glance, but the formulas built into the spreadsheet account for each shot to also include a shot attempt in the total so that the efficiency columns are correct. I did it this way rather than have everyone recording double the work. Let’s get to it.
Hawks and Ducks
In an attempt to often understand how the Blackhawks make offense look so easy at times, I've included a few screenshots this week to slow things down. Take a look at this sequence that starts with about 4:41 left in the second period against the Ducks.
Here, Andrew Shaw is going to enter the zone with control and dish off to Brandon Saad, an attempt off of a controlled entry. See below for him dishing it to Saad, and then continuing to drive the net to give Saad space to attempt the shot.
After a few missed shots, the puck comes to Patrick Kane in the center of the offensive zone. This is where we begin.
Kane will collect and skate to his left and towards the blue line. As he does this, Brent Seabrook will fill in at the right point while Duncan Keith moves towards the spot Kane vacated when he collected the puck. Keith's movement is important here as he occupies the Duck defenders' attention, leaving Seabrook open for a pass from Kane and a shot.
After some more shots, Saad will pass to Keith at the point. Keith will give it back to Saad, who will then give it Seabrook who has circled back after taking his earlier shot.
Seabrook now allows for a great chance to be created simply by being patient and not dumping the puck around behind the net. He skates to his right, eyes looking straight at Shaw, who makes a deft turn and heads to the net. You can see the beginning of this move in the below screenshot.
In the next shot, you'll how much space Shaw has created and Seabrook's clear lane to generate the scoring chance.
The Hawks' movement in the offensive zone is exciting to watch and this sequence really hits home the importance of controlled entries as everything in these screenshots may not have occurred if Shaw had dumped the puck in.
Hawks and Senators
This sequence didn't lead to anything, but I liked Chicago's structure in the neutral zone here. It's like two triangles. You have the two defensemen, Kane in the center, or tip of that triangle, and then the two forwards with Kane as the tip there as well. Watch the gif.
Trevor Van Riemsdyk passes to Kane, who gives it back to Van Riemsdyk and then circles back into the neutral zone. Van Riemsdyk dishes to Michael Rosival, who then has Kane available again in the neutral zone. Their positioning allowed them to keep possession and escape the Ottawa pressure.
Kane then turns forward and passes to Patrick Sharp. Sharp, I think, is supposed to either give it back to Kane on his way into the zone or dump it in, but he loses a board battle and Ottawa goes the other way.
Hawks and Jets
Finally, it wouldn't be a weekly update if it didn't have some footage of Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger creating scoring chances. First up is Smith's movement with the puck and Kruger's off-the-puck movement opening a shot Kruger probably should bury.
Next, we see Kruger retrieve a puck from behind the net and move up the far boards. Smith occupies a spot in the face-off circle, awaiting the pass. This seems to be a staple of the Hawks offensive zone movement.
What did you think of this week's games? Any questions on the numbers? I've started to track linkup plays (which players are combining on shot attempts) for the New Jersey Devils. Is that something you'd be interested in seeing for the Hawks?