Analysis: How Did Travis Konecny and Morgan Frost Perform Against the Blues?
The player tracking series is back, and the details being visited have become finer than ever.
While collecting data for these games, I realized that there were meaningful gaps in just how much information I was offering.
I could tell when someone touched the puck, and how many times. That gives a solid but imperfect indication of how active they were in the game. Then, I could tell what they did with the puck when they got it. That allowed me to separate the playmakers from the people who kill play for their own team.
But I wasn’t saying just how meaningful the plays being made were, and I wasn’t saying just where these puck touches happened. If someone touches the puck in the defensive zone a lot, for example, then they were likely active in breakouts and playing solid defense. If someone touches the puck in the offensive zone a lot, then they were likely doing an excellent job continuing cycles and sustaining time in the other team’s end.
That’s important information when evaluating a player.
So, I added all of that.
With all of these additions to my tracking, it was hard to track as many players as I have been. And it would be even better to fit all of the findings into one article for all the players.
So, I’ve split up my findings of six total players into three separate articles. Welcome to Part 1, featuring Travis Konecny and Morgan Frost.
The New Rules:
If you aren’t familiar with the old rules, then I highly recommend going to read the previous two iterations of this analysis. When talking about the changes, I’m going to talk as if everyone understands what has happened so far.
Instead of recording simple touches, I recorded each touch inside of the zone where it happened. If it happened in the defensive or offensive zone, I recorded that as a DZ Touch or an OZ Touch. If it happened in the NZ, it was recorded as a NZ Touch.
I noted whether Completed Passes occurred in the defensive or offensive zone, so we can see who’s facilitating breakouts and who’s contributing at the offensive end. And, we can see who is doing both.
There is no category for a completed pass in the NZ, because it would largely be meainginless to possession hockey.
Instead, I tracked Exits Created and Entries Created in order to evaluate how efficienctly players moved through the NZ.
If you received a pass in the NZ from the DZ, you were credited for creating an exit. If you made a pass into the NZ from the DZ, you were credited for creating an exit. If you simply picked up the puck and skated it out yourself, you were likewise credited for creating an exit.
The rules are identical for creating entries.
If I happen to be tracking both players, two players absolutely can and do get credited for the same exit or entry. Receiving pucks in stride can be as difficult as making those passes to begin with, so I counted both parts equally.
Another new item added was scoring chances created and shots created.
If you either shot the puck or passed to a person who shot, you were credited with creating a shot. If that shot represented enough danger to be a reasonable likelihood at a goal, it was counted as both a shot and a scoring chance.
The Konecny Findings:
- 10 DZ Touches.
- 7 NZ Touches.
- 16 OZ Touches.
- 0 DZ Turnovers
- 1 OZ Turnover
- 9 DZ Completed Passes.
- 13 OZ Completed Passes.
- 6 Exits Created.
- 9 Entries Created.
- 6 Scoring Chances Created.
- 10 Shots Created.
The Konecny Conclusions:
Travis Konecny was–to put it in a word–buzzing in this game. He was quite simply doing everything. He was active in the DZ and creating exits. He was breaking up plays in the NZ. He was creating entries. He was creating shots and scoring chances in the offensive zone.
There was not a harder earned two points issued on the night than Konecny and his goal and assist.
I don’t think I can offer much insight into the level of dominance that Konecny displayed in this game. If he keeps playing games like this, he’s a star in the league.
It really is as simple as that.
The Frost Findings:
- 5 DZ Touches
- 8 NZ Touches
- 7 OZ Touches
- 0 DZ Turnovers
- 1 OZ Turnovers.
- 5 DZ Completed Passes.
- 6 OZ Completed Passes.
- 3 Exits Created
- 5 Entries Created
- 2 Scoring Chances Created
- 4 Shots Created
The Frost Conclusions:
Morgan Frost has been the subject of a lot of criticism, ranging from John Tortorella to Flyers Twitter. Though, it seems universally accepted upon that the Ottawa game was a significant step in the right direction. I’m here to report that the St, Louis game was yet another.
His work in the offensive line was particularly sublime. I’ve always been a lot more rosy on my outlook towards Frost than most, who regard him with bitterness and dejection.
One reason why is his combination of skating and poise leads to exceptional reactions when the forecheck is heavy.
There were several instances when Frost was at a standstill against the wall after picking up a loose puck. With a forechecker baring down on him, Frost would use his edges to cut away from the opposing player and simply invent space for himself that should not have existed.
With that space, he created shots and he created scoring chances.
His play in the defensive zone was solid. He never threw the puck to the other team or to nobody in particular. He found the next teammate up every time, and created 3 exits in the process.
His play in the neutral zone was terrific, as evidenced by just how much he touched the puck in that area.
Before tracking Frost, I suspected that I would see a high percentage of completed plays when he touched the puck… but an unacceptably low number of puck touches. Which would usually indicate a failure to be active in the play.
But with 20 touches in approximately 10 minutes of ice time, he was operating at about a 2 touch per minute clip. That would match Konecny, who was himself unbelievably active in the play.
That doesn’t exactly clear Frost of any wrongdoing which might have led to his benching. In fact, I think I saw–in his improvement here–the original reason for his benching.
Morgan Frost has a tendency to force himself into an F3 role on the forecheck. He waits for other players to go in, and then find him for the pass.
At first glance, this isn’t a horrible habit. And it isn’t one he should totally eliminate from his game. Frost is a playmaker with skill and speed. He should be looking for opportunities to receive a puck in space from his teammates.
And yes, John Tortorella should be playing him with players that can get him those pucks in space.
But I think I can see why he was hesitant to.
The problem with Frost’s habit is when he forces himself into that situation, when it isn’t natural. Sometimes, his positioning should dictate him being the F1. With his speed and general hockey smarts, he can be an extremely dangerous F1.
But when he refuses to accept that role, he drags the quality of his entire line down. He sabotages a forecheck, and rewards possession to the other team by default which leads to unnecessary time in the defensive zone.
It also neuters one of his most impactful NHL traits: his ability to create offense and scoring chances after getting a puck along the wall.
His passing abilities combined with his skating to create time for himself allow him to create offense and find shots where other players would succumb to the heavy forecheck.
Morgan Frost was perfectly accepting of his role as F1 in both this game and the game before it.
Playing him on the 4th line–where he can’t rely on a skilled teammate to find him a puck in space–might have sent that desired message.
It certainly looked like it did when I tracked this game.
Now, if we’re taking the development of Morgan Frost even remotely seriously, this should lead to increased opportunity.
Mandatory Credit: Johnny Ulecka