Sports Magazine

Eller's Turnaround Needs to Start in the Defensive-zone

By Kicks @Chrisboucher73
Using data-generated scouting to break down a player's performance
Lars Eller's struggles are not coming from his play in the offensive-zone. In fact, Eller's biggest struggles over the past few months have come in the defensive-zone. He's engaging in more defensive-events in the d-zone, but enjoying less success. This has also impacted his possession game in the defensive-zone, as he has the puck on his stick less often in the d-zone, and has been turning the puck over more often. Basically, Eller is stuck in a vicious defensive-zone circle. The less successful he is defensively, the less often he has possession, while the less successful he is moving the puck out of the defensive-zone, the more often he's stuck playing defense.
Reviewing a player's performance over certain spans of the season can help point out specific areas of the game where a player's performance needs to be improved. Most people can point to Lars Eller as a Montreal Canadiens player that has struggled much of this season. The advantage that Data-generated-scouting provides is a wealth of game-specific data that can be rationally and tangibly compared.
This post will compared Eller's performance before the Olympics to his performance since the games. It will also break down his play over the last 10 games.
Lars Eller has struggled offensively since early in the season. He's struggled putting up points since well before the Olympic break, and has continued that trend post-Olympics. He was able to score on 3.8% of his attempted shots before Sochi, but has scored on only 2.8% of his shots since. That said, over the last 10 games Eller's true-shooting-percentage has been slightly above his season average at 4.0%.
In terms of goals, Eller produced 0.008 goals per-minute before Sochi, and has contributed 0.006 since the break. Over the last 10 games, number 81 has produced 0.010 goals per-minute played, while matching his season average of 0.010 assists per-minute as well.
SCORING CHANCES
Despite the lack of scoring, Eller has helped produce more scoring-chances recently than he did over the first part of the season. Eller has gone from producing 0.149 scoring-chances per-minute played at even-strength prior to the Olympic break, to producing 0.162 SC per-minute since the Olympics. Over the last 10 games, he's produced 0.196 scoring-chances per-minute.
Eller is also responsible for more scoring-chances against recently, as he has gone from being directly involved in 0.091 scoring-chances-against per-minute before the Olympics, to 0.100 since then. Over the last 10 games he's allows 0.103 scoring-chances against per-minute played.
OVERALL EVEN-STRENGTH PLAY
Eller has produced fewer successful plays for every unsuccessful play in recent games than he was earlier in the season. He's gone from producing 2.31 successful plays for every 1 failed play prior to the Olympics, to contributing 2.08 successful plays for every 1 failed play since the games. Over the last 10 games, his ratio has dropped even more to 2.01.
As Eller's ratio has fallen, so has his risk/reward. His even-strength risk/reward was 1.93 prior to the Olympics, but only 1.69 since. Over the last 10 games his rating has been 1.60.
Eller has been less involved in the play than he was earlier in the season. Prior to the Olympics, Eller engaged in 4.86 even-strength events per-minute played, but only 4.82 since the games. Over the last 10 games Eller has engaged in only 4.75 events per-minute.
OFFENSIVE-ZONE
Eller's offensive-zone risk/reward has fallen over the course of the season, but has rebounded over the last 10 games. He had an o-zone risk/reward of 0.65 before the Olympics, and 0.62 since the games. Over the last 10 games his offensive-rating has been 0.66.
In terms of offensive-zone events, Eller engaged in more prior to the Olympics than he has since the games. Before Sochi, Eller engaged in 2.21 offensive-zone events per-minute played, but only 2.10 after the games. Over the last 10 games Eller has engaged in 2.14 o-zone events per-minute played.
Eller has had possession of the puck less often in the offensive-zone recently, as he contributed 1.20 puck-possession plays in the o-zone prior to the Olympics, and 1.17 o-touches after the games. Over the last 10 games, Eller has contributed 1.17 puck-possession plays in the offensive-zone per-minute played.
Eller's ability to maintain puck-possession in the offensive-zone dropped after the Olympics, but has improved over the last 10 games. Prior to Sochi, he had an offensive-zone puck-possession success-rate of 56.4% compared to an o-touch success-rate of 54.1% after the games. Over the last 10 games his puck-possession success-rate in the o-zone has been 57.5%
Eller has also been a less-active fore checker recently. He engaged in 0.346 defensive-events in the offensive-zone per-minute prior to the Olympics, but only 0.268 since the games. Over the last 10 games Eller has engaged in .268 fore checking events per-minute of even-strength ice-time.
In terms of success-rate, Eller has an improved fore checking success-rate since the Olympics. Prior to the games he was successful with 72.7% of his attempts to remove puck-possession from the opposition in the offensive-zone. That success-rate since Sochi has been 72.1%. Over the last 10 games his success-rate has improved to 73.1%.
DEFENSIVE-ZONE
Eller's defensive-zone risk/reward rating has fallen substantially over the last 10 games. His d-zone rating was 0.85 before the Olympics, and 0.72 since the games. But over the last 10 games, it's dropped to 0.52.
Eller has also engaged in fewer defensive-zone events over the last 10 games. He engaged in 1.71 d-zone events per-minute prior to the Olympics, and has engaged in 1.73 since the games. Over the last 10 games, Eller has been involved in only 1.57 d-zone events per-minute.
Eller has had possession of the puck in the defensive-zone far less in recent games. He produced .706 defensive-zone puck-possession events per-minute prior to the Olympics, and .705 since the games. But, over the last 10 games Eller has produced only 0.577 offensive-touches in the defensive-zone per-minute played.
Eller has turned the puck over more often in the defensive-zone since the Olympics. He had a defensive-zone puck-possession success-rate of 71.9% prior to the games, but that o-touch success-rate has been only 67.3% since the games. Over the last 10 games his possession success-rate has dropped even more to 64.3%
In terms of defense, Eller has actually engaged in more defensive-events per-minute in the defensive-zone most recently. He attempted 0.421 defensive-touches in the d-zone per-minute prior to the games, while engaging in 0.406 defensive-events per-minute since the Olympics. But over the last 10 games he's returned to his pre-Olympic numbers; engaging in 0.423 defensive-events per-minute played.
Eller has also struggled defensively in the defensive-zone since the Olympics. He had a success-rate when attempting to remove puck-possession from the opposition in the defensive-zone of 64.1% before the games, but has a defensive success-rate of only 56.9% since the games. Over the last 10 contests, Eller has a defensive success-rate of only 53.7%.
NEUTRAL ZONE
Eller's neutral-zone risk/reward rating dropped following the Olympics, but has rebounded over the last 10 games. It went from 0.42 prior to the break, to 0.34 since. Over the last 10 games it has returned to his pre-Olympic rating of 0.42.
In terms of events, Eller has engaged in more neutral-zone events since the Olympics than he was prior to the games. Pre-Olympics he was engaging in 0.95 neutral-zone events per-minute. Since then, he has engaed in 0.99 events per-minute, while over the last 10 games he's engaged in 1.04 neutral-zone events per-minute played.
Eller has had possession of the puck in the neutral-zone more often over the last 10 games than he has at any other point during the season. He produced 0.563 o-touches in the n-zone per-minute prior to the games, and has produced 0.560 since the games. Over the last 10 games, he's produced 0.591 neutral-zone puck-possession events per-minute of even-strength ice-time.
Eller's neutral-zone puck-possession success-rate has dropped since the break. He had a neutral-zone offensive-touch success-rate of 71.2% prior to the games, but has been successful with only 63.3% of his possession events post-Olympics. Over the last 10 games he's been successful with 68.4% of his o-touches in the n-zone.
Eller has engaged in more defensive-events in the neutral-zone after the Olympics than he did before the games. He attempted to remove puck-possession from the opposition 0.142 times per-minute played prior to the break, but has engaged in 0.200 defensive-events since the games. In the last 10 games he's engaged in 0.186 defensive-events in the n-zone PMP.
With the increase in neutral-zone defensive-events has come an increase in success-rate. Eller was successful with only 58.1% of his attempts to remove possession from the opposition in the neutral-zone, but has been successful with an improved 65.6% since. Over the last 10 games he's been successful with 72.2% of his defensive-touches.
Eller's play in the offensive-zone has already begun to turnaround. His play in the neutral-zone has been consistent. The main area of Eller's struggles have been in the defensive-zone. More success in that area, combined with his already improved o-zone play should see Eller's offensive contibution rise over the coming games.

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