In today's NHL.com Behind the Numbers column, I showcased a "score state deployment chart" to demonstrate that Erik Karlsson is Ottawa's first choice on the blue line, no matter the score. Whether protecting a lead, tied, or trying to catch up, Karlsson is the team's number one option on defense.
As you can see, this chart shows what percentage of the ice time is assigned to each of Ottawa's defenseman, broken down by whether the Senators are currently tied, leading, or trailing (further broken down by the margin). While Karlsson is obviously favoured when the Senators are down by a couple, he is still the primary choice when protecting a lead.
This isn't the case with more purely offense-oriented defensemen, like perhaps Patrick Weircioch. For a better example, consider the New York Rangers. When they are trailing by a goal, Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle are their primary options. But when protecting a lead, it's Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh.
These score state deployment charts make an excellent companion to player usage charts. When used together, you get a more complete picture of in which zone a player competes, against which opponents (or alongside which teammates), and in what game situations.
These charts are the work of Micah Blake McCurdy, of Hockey Viz. I met him (and others like him) at the Ottawa hockey analytics conference earlier this year, which is enough to make these trips worthwhile all by itself.
This isn't his lone creation, as his Hockey Viz website is full of visualizations that are equally impressive. He has also found a way to monetize his work, and I earlier wrote about how to support his work on Patreon.
If you like player usage charts, and want to see where visualizations have gone in the years since those humble beginnings, then there really is no better source than McCurdy. So, explore his site, check out his score state deployment charts, and give him some financial support, if you're in a position to do so.
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