Author Topic: Tactics: The Royal Road  (Read 2427 times)

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Online herman

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Tactics: The Royal Road
« on: March 16, 2016, 11:59:25 AM »
Our GDT conversation about play styles (NS vs EW) reminded me that I came across this concept yesterday, from the same guy that revitalized Devan Dubnyk's career with Head Trajectory. I thought I'd start some conversation about it.

Stephen Valiquette (and Chris Boyle) analyzed that makes a quality shooting attempt and distilled it down to a concept called The Royal Road.

http://www.omha.net/news_article/show/486107

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Valiquette has identified what he believes is the most important line on the ice, the line he believes supports the existence of shot quality. The Royal Road is a line that goes directly through the middle of the ice from one net to the other. It separates the ice into two equal parts. Valiquette has observed that a puck crossing this imaginary line immediately preceding a shot increases a shooter's scoring opportunity by over 10 times.

[...]

When the puck crosses the Royal Road, it changes everything because goalies have limitations to their movements and while laterally tracking they are forced to open up.

While reviewing all of this NHL footage, a pattern of success began to emerge. These high percentage opportunities were labeled Green goals because they do not allow the goaltender to gain half a second of clear sight prior to the release.

Green goals account for 76% of all goals reviewed. Green goals are plays where the goaltender has limited time to set depth and angle and has less than half a second to track the incoming shot. These shots are high percentage opportunities and fit into seven different criteria.

Passes across the Royal Road – 22%
The most effective way to create offence in the NHL is a pass across the Royal Road. This is judged as any pass that goes across that line below the tops of the circles that results in a shot on goal. It accounts for 22% of all goals that Valiquette has reviewed. My shot quality research confirms this study as players shoot 30% on average on a pass across the Royal Road vs. the typical 8.5%. This type of movement is essential to goal creation because when the puck moves laterally with speed in this manner, it doesn’t allow the goaltender to remain square because they struggle to set their depth and angle, making the save more difficult.

Screens – 10%
As the position has evolved, goaltending has become so strong that teams need to crowd the front of the net and layer it with players to obstruct a goaltenders view. If a goaltender cannot view the puck it decreases his chance for success because he cannot set for the play and relies solely on positioning and luck to succeed. When players effectively layer in front of the goaltender their chance for success increases. 10% of all goals are scored in this manner.

One-timers on the same side of the Royal Road – 9%
These are plays that generally originate from behind the net and are quick passing plays to a shooter in the slot on the same side of the royal road. It is tough for a goalie to pick up because he has half a second of clear sight and set up time before the release from the shooter. It isn’t as valuable as the pass across the royal road because the goaltender doesn’t have to move east-west and the distance traveled to get into position is much less, but extremely dangerous because of the quickness of the direction change.

Broken plays – 9%
Broken plays can cause havoc for goaltenders because they set for a situation that can be altered by a quick change in puck direction. Passes or shots that deflect off a skate/stick into the net. Puck direction that when altered act like a royal road pass as it forces a goaltender to move east/west while in recovery mode.

Possession across the Royal Road. – 8%
If a player enters the offensive zone with speed, a defense happily exposes the exterior and attempts to clog the middle. They do this with good reason. They are attempting to deny the attacking forward the ability to cross the royal road. Studies show exterior shots have a low probability for success and Valiquette’s study identifies a shot from above the face-off circles and no lateral movement will results in around a 3% chance to score. If the attacking forward is able to cross the royal road through the slot, his chances increase to 33%.

Deflections – 8%
Deflections are extremely challenging because they initially presents themselves as a red shot. A goaltender sets for the initial path and plane but when they are altered, the maximum coverage becomes compromised. The closer the deflection to the net, the lower chance for goaltender success.

Green rebounds – 8%
A green rebound is any scoring opportunity that comes off a goaltender that originated from the green shots listed above. These high end opportunities are difficult to control for goaltenders because pre-shot movement or lack of visual attachment make it difficult for goaltenders to have proper hand position to deflect pucks into safety areas as well as set for shots so they can corral them into their chest for a stoppage in play.

Online herman

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2016, 11:47:28 AM »
http://nhlnumbers.com/2016/8/10/passing-project-dangerous-primary-shot-contributions

The Passing Project is a volunteer event tracking initiative that seeks to delve into passes that lead to scoring chances. It is excellent work.

Quote
The passing project tracks several specific types of passes that can occur in the offensive zone. Behind the net passes are one type. Volunteers also track passes back to the point, royal road passes and passes occurring directly from a faceoff. All other passes fall into a more general category and are tracked based on zone and location. Ryan's piece on offensive zone strategy clearly defines behind the net passes. Passes back to the point is a more subjective term but is used when a player passes the puck from deeper in the offensive zone back to the blue line. Most often, these passes go to defenders. Passes directly from faceoffs occur when the player taking the faceoff gets the puck to a player who takes a shot. Royal road passes occur when the pass crosses an imaginary line that extends straight back from the center of the goal to the point even with the top of the faceoff circles. That line is illustrated below. The creator of the royal road concept is former NHL goalie Steve Valiquette. Shots that follow royal road passes are more dangerous because they force the goaltender to move laterally which will generally create openings for shooters.



As a first step in examining the shots that follow each type of pass, the chart below shows a random sample of shots following each pass type in the offensive zone. Each dot is a shot, the blue dots are non-scoring chances and the orange dots are scoring chances.



The point of this chart is fairly obvious. Shots following royal road passes and behind the net passes are more likely to lead to scoring chances than other types of passes. But to put actual numbers to this visual representation, the following chart shows 5v5 shooting percentages for each shot type if the shot makes it on goal.



Again, the numbers tell a clear story. Passes from behind the net and royal road passes lead to more dangerous shots with the shooting percentage following royal road passes at almost 28%.

Online herman

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2016, 11:50:30 AM »
If Carlyle was wondering why our PP even with Phil Kessel was stagnant, or why Michael Grabners 3 breakaways per game usually devolved into odd-man rushes the other way, this paints a pretty clear picture.

The article above also notes that Royal Road passing events are quite rare and really difficult to do consistently, but behind the net work is quite standard. I can see Royal Road tactics being employed most readily in PP scenarios.

Offline WhatIfGodWasALeaf

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2016, 12:11:53 PM »
Very interesting and I'll need to spend more time looking at it, but I suspect this is why we've seen more teams move to the umbrella style PP.

Having a guy sitting in that Royal Road to finish off plays seems to now be the norm.

Offline Bender

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2016, 01:02:26 PM »
Can we have a synopsis?

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Online herman

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2016, 01:14:09 PM »
Very interesting and I'll need to spend more time looking at it, but I suspect this is why we've seen more teams move to the umbrella style PP.

Having a guy sitting in that Royal Road to finish off plays seems to now be the norm.

It was already something that teams knew about, at least from the defensive side of things. They always try to clog the cross-ice pass on the PP and they know a moving goalie is a vulnerable goalie. The trick is the creativity required to breakdown defensive structure.

I remember when Sundin used to cross-ice feed Mogilny at the shooting-side red line, just off the wall. Opponents could only try to disrupt the pass and pray for a miss, but they also had to stay high to take away McCabe's shot.

Kessel's curl up above his defenseman for a slightly screened shot while staying on the same side of the ice never worked even once.

Online herman

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2016, 01:16:27 PM »
Can we have a synopsis?

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TLDR: Surveys of shot attempts categorized by the immediately preceding passing type were tallied and they found strong correlation between passes from behind the net or across the 'Royal Road' led to a significantly higher chance of scoring. The premise is that a moving goalie is a vulnerable goalie and the numbers appear to support that claim.

Online herman

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2016, 03:52:24 PM »
First posted by Carlton in the Montreal GDT,
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The 'Total Hockey' approach to puck retrieval in the OZ is pretty much the 'butterfly' for defensive pinches. Almost every team uses the wall to break out, so this year, Babcock has enlisted the defense to pinch almost preemptively along the wall super aggressively once the defending team has the puck (lost draws, broken chances) to maintain pressure netward, while the opposite side winger subs out the defensive coverage at the blue line and the defense partner drifts to the middle/puck side to reinforce the gap.

https://streamable.com/irab
Case in point last night's first goal, manufactured by Polak's pinch, and Connor Brown digging out reversed puck, and executing a perfect Royal Road pass to Kadri for the tap in.

St. Louis is a team that does this very well.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdmA1j0hVy8[/youtube]
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 04:00:31 PM by herman »

Offline McGarnagle

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2016, 04:09:37 PM »
Case in point last night's first goal, manufactured by Polak's pinch

Highlighted to offset some of the over-negativity.

Offline Coco-puffs

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2016, 04:21:41 PM »
By the eye test, I think Marincin and Polak seem to be two of our stronger d-men in these pinches.  Even if they don't keep the puck in, they usually have eliminated their man during the pinch, meaning as long as everyone else has done their job, they haven't created an odd-man rush the other way. 

Anyways, something I'll pay a bit more attention to in the upcoming games.


Online herman

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2016, 04:51:56 PM »
Case in point last night's first goal, manufactured by Polak's pinch

Highlighted to offset some of the over-negativity.

Polak caused the turnover with a rote pinch play. The goal was actually generated by Brown's stickhandling, and heads up passing.

Offline CarltonTheBear

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2016, 04:53:09 PM »
Case in point last night's first goal, manufactured by Polak's pinch

Highlighted to offset some of the over-negativity.

Polak caused the turnover with a rote pinch play. The goal was actually generated by Brown's stickhandling, and heads up passing.

Hyman invisible AGAIN

Online herman

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2016, 05:41:02 PM »
Worth noting: Polak played the Hitchcock system.

Offline McGarnagle

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2016, 07:01:12 PM »
Case in point last night's first goal, manufactured by Polak's pinch

Highlighted to offset some of the over-negativity.

Polak caused the turnover with a rote pinch play. The goal was actually generated by Brown's stickhandling, and heads up passing.

Sigh. I tried, Roman, I tried.

Online herman

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2016, 03:53:16 PM »
More related to Tactics in general, and only tangentially related to the Royal Road in that it's based on data collected by the same people, and still in the nascent manual stage: The Forechecking Project.

http://www.allaboutthejersey.com/2016/11/7/13478980/high-level-analysis-new-jersey-devils-forecheck

In the context of this year's New Jersey Devils, Ryan Stimson looks into their forecheck specifics against score effects (leading, tied, trailing).

Quote
[The Forecheck Project] will largely deal in score effects and how a team's performance changes based upon the period and score state of a game. [...] [Teams] will adopt different styles of play when they are leading or trailing, mostly in the third period. Teams will pick their spots as far when to try and enter the zone when ahead, and teams will get into the zone by any means possible when trailing.

This piece is a high-level look at what we're seeing early in the data with respect to the risk-reward nature of how aggressive should teams forecheck.

It's a lengthy read, but it definitely has potential, and dovetails nicely with how Babcock has been gradually steering the Leafs to play (see defensive pinch strategy).

Basically, being aggressive on the forecheck all the time (especially with the lead) yields better results and is worth the occasional mistake. Defense through puck possession, driven by aggressive puck retrieval in all zones.

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Re: Tactics: The Royal Road
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2016, 03:53:16 PM »