In a series of recent posts at mc79hockey.com, Tyler Dellow discussed a new concept (to me anyway) that he called ‘open play’ hockey. In a post on “The Theory of the Application of Corsi%” he wrote:

I have my own calculation that I do of what I call an open play Corsi%. I wipe out the faceoff effects based on some math that I’ve done as to how long they persist and look just at what happened during the time in which there wasn’t a faceoff effect.

This sounds strangely similar to my zone start adjusted statistics where I eliminate the first 10 seconds after an offensive or defensive zone face off as I have found that beyond that the effect of the face off is largely dissipated. I was curious as to how in fact these were calculated and it seemed I wasn’t the only one.

As far as I can tell, the tweet went unanswered.

In a followup post “New Metrics I” the concept of open play hockey was mentioned again.

I’m calculating what I call an open play Corsi% – basically, I knock out the stuff after faceoffs and then the stuff I’m left with, theoretically, doesn’t have any faceoff effects. It’s just guys playing hockey.

In the comments I asked if he could define more precisely what “stuff after faceoffs” meant but the question went unanswered. Dellow has subsequently referenced open play hockey in his New Metrics 2 post and in a follow up post answering questions about these new metrics. What still hasn’t been explained though is how he actually determines “open play” hockey.

Doing a search on Dellow’s website for “open play” we find that this concept has been mentions a couple times previously. In a post titled Big Oilers Data IX: Neutral Zone Faceoff Wins we might get an answer to exactly what ‘open play’ actually is.

As those of you who have been reading this series as I’ve gone along will be aware, I’ve been kind of looking at things on the basis of eight different kinds of 5v5 shift: Open Play (no faceoff during shift), six types of shift with one faceoff (OZ+, OZ-, NZ+, NZ-, DZ+, DZ-) and multi-faceoff shifts. The cool thing with seven of those types of shift is that I can get a benchmark of a type by looking at how the Oilers opposition did in the same situation.

So, as best I can determine, open play is basically any shift that doesn’t have  a face off.

The next question I’d like to answer is, how different is ‘open play’ from my 10 second adjustment. This is an interesting question because I have had this debate with many people that suggest that my 10 second adjustment isn’t adequate and that zone start effects are far more significant than my 10 second adjustment suggests. I have even had debates with Tyler Dellow about this (See here, here and here) so I am really curious as to what impact open play hockey has on a players statistics. Unfortunately, I don’t have much ‘open play’ data to go with but in the posts that Dellow has discussed it he has mentioned a few players open play corsi% statistics so I will work with what I have. Here is a comparison of Dellow’s open play stats and my 10-second zone start adjusted stats.

 Player Year OpenPlay Corsi% ZSAdj CF% OZ% DZ% Fraser 2012-13 50.8% 50.4% 40.1 25.3 Fraser 2011-12 52.8% 53.2% 31.1 35.5 Fraser 2010-11 45.2% 42.2% 30.4 35.1 Fraser 2009-10 59.2% 57.7% 29.2 40.5 Fraser 2008-09 51.8% 52.6% 30.9 37 O’Sullivan 2011-12 44.3% 42.0% 35.7 26 O’Sullivan 2010-11 45.2% 45.6% 29.4 34 O’Sullivan 2009-10 43.9% 44.1% 31 32.2 O’Sullivan 2007-08 45.5% 46.5% 29.9 29.4 Eager 2012-13 34.4% 35.6% 40.5 32.8 Eager 2011-12 42.0% 43.0% 29.6 30.7 Eager 2009-10 54.4% 54.5% 18.3 39.1 Eager 2008-09 52.9% 53.9% 22.6 37.4

I have incldued OZ% and DZ% which is the percentage of face offs (including neutral zone face offs) that the player had in the offensive and defensive zone. These statistics along with ZSAdj CF% can be found on stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

If it isn’t obvious to you that there isn’t much difference between the two, let me make it more obvious by looking at this in graphical form.

That’s a pretty tight correlation and we are dealing with some player seasons that have had fairly significant zone start biases. Ben Eager had a very significant defensive zone start bias in both 2008-09 and 2009-10 but a sizable offensive zone bias in 2012-13. Colin Fraser had sizable defensive zone bias in 2009-10 but a sizable offensive zone bias in 2012-13. Patrick O’Sullivan had a heavy offensive zone bias in 2011-12. There is no compelling evidence here that ‘open play’ statistics are any more reliable or better than my 10-second zone start adjusted data. There is essentially no difference which reaffirms to me (yet again) that my 10-second adjustment is a perfectly reasonable method to adjust for zone starts which ultimately tells us that zone starts do not have a huge impact on a players statistics. Certainly not anywhere close to what many once believed, including Dellow himself. Any impact you see is more likely due to the quality of players one plays with if one gets a significant number of defensive zone starts.

Update: For Tyler Dellow’s response, or lack there of, read this.  Best I can tell is he doesn’t want to publicly say what open play is or how it shows zone starts affect players stats beyond my 10-second adjustment because I might interpret what he says as thinking I am right despite him clearly thinking the evidence proves me wrong. I guess rather than have me make a fool of myself by misinterpreting his results so I can believe I am right he is going to withhold the evidence from everyone. I feel so touched that Dellow would choose to save me from such embarrassment as misinterpreting results over letting everyone know the real effect of zone starts have on a players statistics and why ‘open play’ is what we should be using to negate the effect of zone starts. Truthfully though, I am willing to take the risk  of embarrassing myself if it furthers our knowledge of hockey statistics.

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