Russia holds advantage in possession and shots, but USA uses quality chances to get the win
The initial team based stats for this game show that RUS had the advantage in puck possession and shot attempts, but if we only focused on those two pieces, we would be missing a lot more of the story surrounding this game.
Through their previous 5 games, USA grew accustomed to holding the overall advantage in their games, maintaining a 65% shots advantage and a 54% possession advantage. This trend came to a half against team RUS, as USA only held 45% of shots and 46% of possession time. So, the question to be asked is how was USA able to still dominate in terms of scoring chances and xG despite having less shots and less possession time?
The biggest initial indicator is that USA was able to keep RUS out of the dangerous areas. If we look at the shot map, we see that RUS only generated 4 of their 60 shots from the danger zone (6%). On the flip side, USA generated 18% of their shot attempts from the danger zone - and both goals came from this area.
Scoring chances were in USA favor (19-13) despite RUS having more shots and higher possession time. One of the reasons for this can be explained when analyzing the danger zone passing performance of both teams:
9 successful passes into DgZ
Resulting in only 1 shot on goal
Worth only 0.15 xG
13 successful passes into DgZ
6 shots on goal generated
Resulting in 2 goals (BOTH USA GOALS)
Worth a total of 1.23 xG
For USA, Jack Hughes 2019 #NHLDraft top ranked prospect led the team in DgZ passing once again. He made 4 successful passes into this area, resulting in 3 shots on goal worth 0.85 xG and resulting in 1 goal. His 0.85 xG off danger zone passes was highest among all USA players. Also, we can check out his potential assists (PA) with total passes perforrmance.
One area RUS held another advantage was in shots after giveaways. RUS only allowed USA 6 shot attempts after giveaways, which translated to only 2 scoring chances against RUS. In simple terms, RUS made 6 giveaways that led to 2 USA scoring chances. On the flip side, USA made 14 giveaways that led to shots for RUS. Despite getting over double the amount of shots after giveaways, RUS was still only able to generate 2 scoring chances out of these 14 shots after USA giveaways. This once again speaks to USA’s ability to keep RUS out of the dangerous areas, even after giveaways. RUS was limited to perimeter and low quality shot attempts all game.
Quinn Hughes Vancouver Canucks prospect had the most possession time for USA (1:37), and he was also able to maintain one of the best giveaway percentages with 31%. His ability control the puck while only making a limited number of turnovers helps team USA escape the defensive zone and get through the neutral zone. The team average for USA giveaways was 40%.
Oliver Wahlstrom New York Islanders led USA with a total of 9 shot attempts in this game, hitting the net on 5 and scoring once.
When speaking about shot quality, we can take both teams’ xG and divide it by the # of shot attempts to get a metric called xG/SA. For USA their xG/SA was 0.07 compared to RUS 0.04. This again highlights the fact that RUS was held to low quality shots this game. Russia’s #28 Grogori Denisenko The Florida Panthers prospect had a scoring chance right in front of the net worth 0.50 xG, which accounted for over 20% of Russia’s total xG in this game. Without this scoring chance, their xG/SA would have been even lower.
From an individual perspective, USA’s Aleksandr Chmelevski San Jose Sharks prospect had the highest xG/SA with 0.22 (3 shot attempts worth 0.66 xG).
Another key area of this game that allowed USA to limit Russia’s offensive abilities is regarding zone entries. In the previous 5 games, RUS had a controlled entry success rate (carry+pass in entries) of 79%. This means that roughly 4 out of 5 times that Russia entered the OZ through a pass or carry in, it was successful. In this game against USA, however, RUS had a success rate of only 70%. It means that USA forced RUS to dump the puck in more (30% of the time in this game vs 20% in all previous 5 games combined). It also means that USA limited the ability for RUS players to enter the zone easily with control of the puck.
By looking at individual USA defensemen, we can see the results of how RUS entered the OZ while they were on the ice. The biggest standout in terms of positive defensive line play (entries against performance) is USA’s, Mikey Anderson #LAKings. Russia entered the OZ 30 times while Anderson was on the ice, having a success rate of only 33%. The average for USA defensemen was 40%. Furthermore, Anderson only allowed RUS to enter the OZ with control of the puck on 17% of their entries. The average for USA defensemen was 28%. This highlights the individual performance of Anderson in terms of denying Russia the ability to enter the OZ with puck control. Also Michael Anderson has the highest number of puck recoveries (18).
In summary, the data shows that RUS held the advantage in certain areas of this game, but winning the shots % and possession % does not always translate to scoring more goals. USA did a stellar job at keeping RUS out of the dangerous areas, limiting passes to into the DgZ, and limiting RUS to only 1 shot attempt on the successful passes they did make into this area.