Data Analysis: Latvia vs Czech Republic 4:3 – 03.12.2018

Surprise surprise! That is what headlines were telling us after Latvia beat host country by one goal. There might be even bigger surprise for you though. Looking at the game through data it reveals that Latvia deserved if not win than at least a point!

You heard it. From contextual view (and this won´t surprise you) Czech Republic had much more slow attacks and Latvia countered with quick attacks and in best case scenario with odd man rushes. On the other hand Czech team was pressuring higher to create some turnover situations. This is was data confirmed:

Slow attack possessions - 37:69

Quick attack possession - 33:16

Odd man rushes - 12:3

Turnover possessions - 3:11

Both slow and quick attack possessions are not dangerous in many cases but its numbers in the game are high. So chance you score from them is quite high too. Czech Republic beat Latvia 1-2 on slow attacks and Latvia was the lonely scorer (1-0) on quick attacks. The aim of teams can be to create *clear path opportunities in these attacks. Czech Republic had the edge in both clear paths from slow attacks (3-5) but also from quick attacks (3-5).

Turnover situations and odd man rushes are more dangerous. Czech team created solid advantage (3-8) in turnover clear paths but could not convert a single one (0-0 on goals scored). We see above that Latvia was dangerous in yielding odd man rushes and home team might be lucky to keep the score only 2-1 in these situations.

Following graph helps us to better understand the flow of the game because it was a factor.

Czech Republic was more dangerous in the first period creating 3-6 advantage in clear paths and the score agreed (0-1).

Then Latvia came storming in the second period. They were able to stay competitive in clear paths (6-7) and were a threat in odd man rushes (6-0!). Latvia won the period 3-1 and led after two periods.

Third period brought big push for home team. 0-5 was an advantage in clear paths, 7-28 in shot attempts by the way but at the same time Latvia was still able to create odd man rushes (4-1).  

Despite successful strategy to defend aggressive and yield counter attacks it is still not decisive to say if Latvia deserved the final result (apology for those getting angry after reading the first paragraph). Czech Republic should be more efficient in converting these clear path opportunities, mainly in turnover situations. Also have a look at this graph.

Notice what was happening in the last 10 minutes of the game. Latvia basically gave up on shooting and concentrated on defending their thin lead. Czech Republic started to shoot a lot but could not equalize.

The biggest entertainment was brought to you by Latvian second line (Jursevskis, Krumins, Trekse, Rajeckis A, Akmenlauks).

It was them on the field when most odd man rushes were created for Latvia but at the same time Czech team was able to create many clear paths against them.

Intangibles such as aggresivnes, hard work or sacrifice are hard to be measured. There are always part of the game and could be another reason for this good performance from Latvia. To conclude following gif was chosen as a footprint for their success.

Czech team yielded good scoring chances from high forechecking. They also created solid looks and clear paths while advancing against deep defence. Last gif is for them. Not showing turnover situation nor clear paths but good old give and go.

*Clear path is a situation in which offensive player is located in dangerous area in front of the net, there is no defender between him and goalie and a real chance for this player to receive ball exists.

By Petr Malina