I am continuing my sabermetrics and hockey series with the top 20 players in 2014/15 by excess defensive zone starts in 5 on 5 situations. These are players who play in tough defensive situations. By starting their shifts in the defensive zone they are more likely to have poor Corsi ratings. I will adjust for this in Corsi analysis in the future.
Here is a group of players who played - often anonymously - in tough defensive situations and deserve credit for it if they succeeded.
Here are the top 20 players in 2014/15 by defensive zone starts:
A few days ago I posted the 2014/15 league leaders in excess offensive zone starts (this is faceoffs a player is on the ice for in 5 on 5 situations in the offensive zone minus those in the defensive zone). Leading the league is Mike Ribeiro of the Nashville Predators with 302 excess offensive zone starts. Thus Ribeiro was given a cushy role in Nashville where his offence could be maximized.
Ribeiro is an interesting case in the NHL in the last couple of seasons. Ribeiro spent his 2013/14 season with Phoenix. He was moderately successful scoring 47 points in 80 games. This placed him fifth in scoring in Phoenix. He was bought out of his four year contract after one year in Phoenix. Largely this was done because of off-ice issues, but if he played better hockey that might have been excused. Nashville took a chance on him signing him for barely over a million dollars in a one year contract. It paid off. Ribeiro scored 62 points in 82 games. He was second in scoring on the Preds. Nashville signed him to a contract extention of two years worth $3.5 million per year.
As I continue my sabermetrics and hockey series today I will look at the top 20 players in 2014/15 by excess offensive zone starts. These are players who in 5 on 5 situations are on the ice for the most offensive zone faceoffs with defensive zone faceoffs subtracted off. This is a group of players who are given a chance to play a big offensive role. In some cases these are top offensive players attempting to maximize their offence. In other cases these are players who are weak defensively being protected from the situations where they struggle.
Offensive zone starts help give us an idea of the context that is needed to evaluate puck possession stats such as Corsi. In the future I will use these numbers for that purpose.
Here are the top 20 players by excess zone starts in 2014/15:
A few days ago I posted the worst players in the 2014/15 season by team adjusted Corsi rating. At the top (or bottom?) of this list was Jay McClement of the Carolina Hurricanes. He posted a league worst -269.0 adjusted Corsi. This shows that his puck possession as measured by attempted shots in 5 on 5 situations where he is on the ice is worse for him than any other player in the league when compared to their team. McClement being near the bottom is no shock. Last year he was 17th from the worst while playing in Toronto. The year before that he was second worst.
Why does a player like that keep playing in the NHL? In part it is because team adjusted Corsi isn't telling the whole picture. Players like McClement tend to play against the toughest opposition and get a significant number of defensive zone starts which will hurt his Corsi. Those things must be corrected for in order to get a true view of McClement's play.
After they are accounted for, he has been a below average NHLer but getting closer to average who plays in a tough situation on his team when puck possession is hard to come by. Defensively his numbers do not look bad. Despite the high quality of opposition, he ranks above average on his team by most measures. The problem is he doesn't score. He doesn't do much of anything offensively. Any team that plays like McClement would be an awful team that scores record low numbers of goals. They would not have a horrid goals against but they would be beaten most nights.
Today I am continuing my sabermetrics and hockey series by posting the 20 worst players in 2014/15 by team adjusted Corsi. I have already posted the top 20 players by team adjusted Corsi. This is the flip side. It is a group of players who struggled with puck possession. These players had low Corsi ratings relative to their teams. This means that in 5 on 5 situations their opponents were taking more attempted shots than their team even after adjusting for team affects. These are a group of players who struggled last year.
In a couple cases these players played tough defensive situations where they had a significant number of zone starts in their own zone and hence that (at least partially) explains a poor Corsi, but in general these players were weak links on their teams.
Here are the 20 worst players in 2014/15 by team adjusted Corsi:
Yesterday I posted the top 20 players by team adjusted Corsi rating in 2014/15. This is a list of players who led their teams in terms of puck possession. Leading that list is Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks. His +313.6 adjusted Corsi has him nearly fifty points above any other player.
Perhaps this is a surprising leader because Thornton appears to be on the outs in San Jose. He has been stripped of his captaincy and isn't getting along with GM Doug Wilson. Despite this he remains a top player. Thornton put up 65 points in 2014/15. This was good for 28th in league scoring. This former MVP is 36 years old and is still playing great hockey. Should San Jose trade him they are at best making a significant short term drop. Thornton is a big part of the San Jose Sharks. The team may be in decline but there will be a significant dropoff if Thornton doesn't stay with the team. Joe Thornton remains one of the top players in the NHL well into his 30's. That is a Hall of Fame credential.
Today i am continuing my summer sabermetrics series by posting the top 20 players in 2014/15 by team adjusted Corsi. Corsi is a measure of puck possession. It is the difference between attempted shots (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots) by a team and their opponents when a given player is on the ice. This is clearly a team dependant number. A first attempt to isolate individual play is to adjust for the team that a player plays upon. This is done by taking the team Corsi of the player's team divided by five (since there are five players on the ice for each team) as a baseline for a team adjusted Corsi.
This group of players is a group of players who excelled in puck possession on their teams.
Here are the top 20 players in 2014/15 by team adjusted Corsi:
I posted the 2014/15 team Corsi ratings a few days ago. Since then I have looked at the top team - the Los Angeles Kings and the worst team - the Buffalo Sabres. I want to look at a team that had some success despite a very poor team Corsi. That team is the Calgary Flames. They finished with 97 points in the final playoff spot in the West Conference and then advanced to the second round of the playoffs. This is despite a -839 team Corsi which was third worst in the league.
Corsi is a measure of puck possession. It is the difference between attempted shots taken by a team and its opponent in 5 on 5 situations. It has been found to be a repeatable metric for teams from season to season if their personnel remains relatively constant.
Thus Calgary was a bad puck possession team last year. This is likely to repeat next year. How did they succeed last season despite poor puck possession and is it repeatable?
A couple of days ago, I posted the team Corsi ratings for 2014/15. This is the difference between shots attempted by each team and their opponents in five on five situations. This is a measure of puck possession and is one of the more repeatable facets of hockey teams. The worst team in the league is the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo's -1789 Corsi is the furthest deviation from the zero point that has ever been recorded since these statistics could be collected. Buffalo had over twenty more shots attempted by their opposition per game than by the Sabres themselves.
When looking at the worst 20 individual players by their Corsi, fourteen of the twenty players played for the Buffalo Sabres in 2014/15. Buffalo was a horrid puck possession team.
Buffalo finished last in the NHL in 2014/15. They posted only 23 wins and 54 points. This left them two points behind Arizona, who was second worst. Given their poor puck possession, one might expect Buffalo should have been even worse than that. Were there mitigating circumstances that had Buffalo finish better than they should have, despite being last place?
Not only was Buffalo bad at puck possession in 5 on 5 situations. They were also horrible on special teams. They had the worst power play at 13.4% and the worst penalty kill at 75.1%. There wasn't any circumstance when the Sabres looked like a good team.
There is some press about how this team has improved. Have they? They have a long way to go to be merely a weak team. To make matters worse, their biggest addition this summer Ryan O'Reilly has legal troubles.
Yesterday I posted the team Corsi ratings for 2014/15. Leading the NHL was the Los Angeles Kings with a +760 team Corsi. They had 760 more attempted shots in five on five situations than their opponents. This is almost ten more per game. This makes the kings the top puck possession team in 2014/15.
The problem is these Kings posted 95 points in the season. That placed them ninth place in West Conference. That is one point out of the playoffs. In 2012, the Kings posted 95 points and that was good for eighth place in the West. They won the Stanley Cup. That year the Kings were 12 points out of first place in Corsi. I would argue that both teams are similar in quality.
How can the Kings either miss or barely make the playoffs with the best puck possession in the league? Puck possession isn't everything. They are average at special teams. Their shooting and saves percentages were roughly average last season. Their problem came in overtime and shootouts. Los Angeles had a 3-15 record when a game went to overtime. That was the worst record in the league in that circumstance. That result is so poor that it must be seen as a fluke. It isn't sustainable. In any normal season they would have had several more points in overtime and shootouts. Under those circumstances the Kings would have made the playoffs. As a playoff team they had a good chance to make a serious run. Los Angeles was unlucky to not make the playoffs. They were a team that could have made a significant run.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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