Conversely, Brian Boyle led the team by beginning 59.7% of his shifts in the defensive zone. That makes sense considering he and his line generally played against the opposition’s top line and coach Tortorella would trust them to play in risky situations, including with a faceoff in their own zone. Considering Boyle started nearly six out of every 10 shifts in his own zone, it makes his twenty-goal season even more remarkable.
The other end of the equation is Zone Finish. Zone Finish reflects where the puck is when a player’s shift ends. Obviously it’s better if a player’s shift ends with the puck in the offensive zone because hopefully, that player’s teammates will maintain possession of the puck and will create scoring chances.
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Now if you look at both numbers together then they can tell you a story. For example; if we look at Stepan and his 64.1% Offensive Zone Start %, and contrast it with his 55.2% Offensive Zone Finish % (Fin Ozone% as it’s referred to on Behind the Net), you can see that he went backwards, figuratively and literally, on the ice.
Just looking at those figures you might conclude that Stepan finished nearly 9% of his Offensive Zone Start shifts in his defensive zone but that doesn’t account for any shift beginning in the neutral zone that may have finished either in the offensive or defensive zones. Still, having a lower Fin Ozone% than an Offensive Zone Start suggests Step and his line too often forfeited possession of the puck to the opposition and ended up defending their own goal rather than attacking the enemy’s cage.
On the other hand Boyle, who began a team-low 40.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone, finished 46.8% of his shifts in the attacking zone. That suggests Boyle was able to overcome the disadvantage of starting in his own zone and turned it into some offensive zone time on occasion.
Another way Zone Start is a useful tool for analysis is we can see who is getting “protected” ice time. Stepan, by virtue of beginning nearly 2/3 of his shifts in the offensive zone, began in less dangerous spots and received protected ice time as a result.
Boyle was put in situations far more likely to result in scoring chances against. His ice time was not protected.