New York Islanders 6 at Vancouver Canucks 2 – 2023-01-03 recap

We’re a little behind, so I’ll contain my analysis based on the data, until I’m caught up (which is scheduled to be by the end of this week).

I watched this game over a week ago and hadn’t typed it up until now. That’s unfortunately becoming a bit of a theme with me lately, as I’ve been dealing with stress and sickness which prevents me from sitting down for 8 hours over the course of a day working on this stuff.

While I do type up a large number of notes and my game tracking is very detailed, I do lose a sense of the flow of the game, in addition to real time reactions. To take a peek behind the curtain for a second, let’s look at a random sequence in this game:

The tracking file tells me this: With 15:58 remaining in the first period, Mat Barzal wins a neutral zone faceoff against Elias Pettersson. The Islanders retreat into their defensive zone (any event with a leading “E” signifies an entry into a zone) and Alexander Romanov turns the puck over 10 seconds after the faceoff, forced by Andrei Kuzmenko. The Canucks evidently do nothing with the puck, since there are no shots between that and the next turnover, also forced by Kuzmenko, but this time by Josh Bailey. However, six seconds later, Kuzmenko sets up a point shot from Luke Schenn, which is deflected on its way to the net by Lane Pederson. Noah Dobson swats the puck away from the front of the net.

This is about 30 seconds of game time and, with thousands of 30-second increments, these building blocks can tell me something about these players. Does Andrei Kuzmenko force lots of turnovers? Does Luke Schenn take lots of point shots that get deflected? How often does a team retreating into its defensive zone result in a shot against?

On its own though, there’s no picture about how these events act in conjunction with the ones around it. Hockey flows, from commercial break to commercial break and stoppage to stoppage. The goal is always to break down a sport to a series of one-on-one events, mirroring the baseball equivalent of a batter versus a pitcher. In hockey, we have a forward versus a defenceman on a zone entry, a defenceman versus a forward on a breakout, and a forward versus a goalie on a shot, but all of those results are impacted by those that precede it. The game has a certain flow and feel, and not having that feel in my mind when I type up a game doesn’t cost me the ability to analyze it, but it costs me the ability to put it into a larger context. The Canucks gave up 6 goals in this one: I can tell you why, but I can’t really explain what it felt like for the fanbase for long stretches of the game.

But, with that in mind, I’ll get caught up to the present and be able to type these games up after we’ve all just watched them.

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