# Hockey 201: Zone Start and a Coach’s Trust

When watching a hockey game on TV or even in the arena itself, fans will never notice the chess match going on behind the benches. Coaches constantly try to match up their lines against their opponents’. The home team gets the advantage of sending out their lines last. So, no matter who his rival chooses, the home coach gets to respond. A zone start is the advanced statistic that tracks where a player begins his shift at the faceoff.

## The Zone Start and Math

Simply put, a zone start is tracked by counting which zone a player starts his shift in when his shift begins with a faceoff. The three zones are offense, neutral, and defense. The stats are ZSO (Zone Start Offense), ZSN (neutral), ZSD (defense). But the raw numbers are not worth much without a comparison. That’s where ZSO% comes in. This percentage compares the number of offensive starts to the number of defense and offense starts.

For example, let’s take a look at Devils defenseman, Adam Larsson. In the 2015-16 regular season, Larsson started 308 shifts in the offensive zone, 520 neutral zone, and 660 defensive zone. His ZSO% is 308/(308 + 660) which comes to 31.8%, the lowest percentage in the league among defensemen. Note that the neutral zone starts are pretty much ignored. This is because of the overarching reason behind zone start stats. Which players are tasked with defending their net on a faceoff most often?