Identifying Completed Pass Types and Improving Passing Lane Models


  • David Radke
  • Tim Brecht
  • Daniel Radke



Hockey, Passing, Metrics, Passing Lanes, Tracking Data


The implementation of a puck and player tracking (PPT) system in the National Hockey League (NHL) provides significant opportunities to utilize high-resolution spatial and temporal data for advanced hockey analytics. In this paper, we develop a technique to classify pass types in the tracking data as either Direct, 1-bank, or Rim passes. We also address two fundamental limitations of our previous model for passing lanes by modeling 1-bank indirect passes and the expected movement of players. We implement our pass classification and extended passing lane models and analyze 198 games of NHL tracking data from the 2021-2022 regular season. We study the types of completed passes and introduce a new passing metric that shows about 59% of completed 1-bank passes have an equal or more open indirect passing lane than the direct lane. Furthermore, we show that our expected movement addition reduces receiver location error in over 94% of completed passes.