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More NHL Metrics: A Beginner's Guide to Zone Starts

Jerred Smithson played the tough minutes, allowing for players like Tomas Fleischmann to score.
Jerred Smithson played the tough minutes, allowing for players like Tomas Fleischmann to score.

Zone Starts, or rather Offensive Zone Start %, measures the percentage of time when a player starts in the offensive zone. A Zone Start ignores starts in the neutral zone, and begins when a player starts his shift in a zone (beginning with a faceoff). An Offensive Zone Start % is the number of offensive zone starts, divided by the total number of zone starts (both offensive and defensive).

Zone Starts are a great stat to utilize when, for example, determining how a coach views a certain player, from a practical standpoint when a new player is acquired, as well as finding out why a player's Corsi is trending high or low.

Read on after the jump for two key numbers...

Two key numbers to focus on with Zone Starts:

54%: A player who starts with this percentage or above is usually of the offensive variety. It's kinda obvious why a coach wants his best offensive players on the ice when the team is taking a face-off in the offensive zone. First-year players also tend to have high offensive zone starts; rather than place a rookie in a high-pressure defensive zone role, a coach likely would prefer to offer his rookie, and his team, a better opportunity to score.

A coach has such players start in the offensive zone to keep the puck in the offensive zone, thereby creating better scoring chances, and making sure the opponents' possession is kept to a minimum, which helps the team and the player's Corsi numbers.

Panthers with 54% Zone Starts

  • Tomas Fleischmann: 58.1%
  • Stephen Weiss: 55.6%
  • Kris Versteeg: 55.4%
  • Brian Campbell: 54.0%

46%: Players who start at 46% or below, are often valued by their coach as being defensive minded (like shutdown defensemen) players, and are usually players that the coach would play on the penalty kill. These players tend to play harder minutes which lowers their Corsi numbers, but gives the team's more offensive minded players better opportunities to score.

Panthers with 46% Zone Starts

  • Jerred Smithson: 36.6%
  • Marcel Goc: 38.2%
  • Mike Weaver: 40.3%
  • Tomas Kopecky: 45.6%
  • Mikael Samuelsson: 45.9%
  • Dmitry Kulikov: 45.9%

A Zone Start for a player begins when he's on the ice off for a face-off, not when he jumps on the bench. You can find these numbers here at Behind The Net, where they have Corsi and Zone Starts for all 30 NHL teams from 2007 to last season (playoffs included as well).