The Icings On The Cake

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 21: Brooks Laich #21 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with Troy Brouwer #20 after scoring in the third period against the Phoenix Coyotes at the Verizon Center on November 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. Washington won the game 4-3. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

We've written quite a bit about the importance of zone starts in the past (here and here, for example), and the topic continues to be a hot one among those pushing the envelope in the field of hockey statistics.

But one piece of the zone start equation that hasn't been looked at much is icings. You'd think that the League would track individual icings (by offender)... but you'd be wrong. Nonetheless, by culling the play-by-play data that the League does put out, we can see who's on the sheet when the puck is iced.

What would this data tell us? Theoretically, the players who are on the ice and forcing the opponents to ice the puck with greater frequency might be doing a better job of forechecking and creating pressure. And they're giving their team an advantage by creating offensive-zone faceoffs which the opponents can't bring on fresh troops to defend. On the flip side of that coin, the high-frequency icers may be having trouble clearing the defensive zone under control and/or getting hemmed in to the point that an icing is necessary, and they're certainly doing the team no favors by setting up a defensive-zone draw for oft-tired skaters (sometimes causing their coach to burn his timeout).

The data below - which was provided by Neil Greenberg, to whom we're quite grateful - doesn't take into account quality of competition or teammates, zone starts or anything other than who's on the ice when the puck is iced - for and against. It's mildly interesting, and maybe a launching point for further investigation.

So here are the numbers through Thursday (click on a column to sort):

Player EV TOI
IB IB/60 IA IA/60 Δ
Troy Brouwer 296.4 5 1.01 21 4.25 3.24
Alex Ovechkin 346.8 13 2.25 21 3.63 1.38
Jeff Schultz 324.9 11 2.03 17 3.14 1.11
Mike Green 122.9 4 1.95 6 2.93 0.98
Marcus Johansson 277.2 16 3.46 19 4.11 0.65
John Carlson 407.0 23 3.39 26 3.83 0.44
Mike Knuble 284.9 14 2.95 16 3.37 0.42
Nicklas Backstrom 330.2 16 2.91 18 3.27 0.36
Dennis Wideman 405.8 19 2.81 20 2.96 0.15
Jeff Halpern 225.2 12 3.20 11 2.93 -0.27
Karl Alzner 389.5 26 4.00 23 3.54 -0.46
John Erskine 139.7 5 2.15 3 1.29 -0.86
Matt Hendricks 219.8 13 3.55 9 2.46 -1.09
Joel Ward 283.6 19 4.02 13 2.75 -1.27
Cody Eakin 128.3 5 2.34 2 0.94 -1.40
Alexander Semin 296.2 21 4.25 14 2.84 -1.41
Roman Hamrlik 370.8 27 4.37 18 2.91 -1.46
Mathieu Perreault 117.5 5 2.55 2 1.02 -1.53
Jason Chimera 299.5 18 3.61 9 1.80 -1.81
Dmitri Orlov 84.7 4 2.83 1 0.71 -2.12
Brooks Laich 302.9 23 4.56 12 2.38 -2.18

GP - Games Played; EV TOI - Even-Strength Time On Ice; IB - Icings By (i.e. unfavorable); IB/60 - Icings By Per Sixty Minutes of Ice Time; IA - Icings Against (i.e. favorable); IA/60 - Icings Against Per Sixty Minutes of Ice Time; Δ - Difference between IB and IA per sixty (positive is better)

Thoughts? Theories? Let's hear 'em in the comments.

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