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Detroit Has The Best Team Corsi

A couple days ago I posted the team Corsi ratings for 2011/12.  This is the difference in shots attempted (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots) taken by a team minus those taken against a team in five on five situations.  It is a strong indicator of a team’s puck possession ability.  This is an important repeatable part of a team’s success or failure.  It clearly does not tell the whole story (goaltending, special teams..) as to which team is best in the league but it is the largest predictable piece of the pie.

Last season the Detroit Red Wings narrowly led the league with their Corsi of +648.  This beat out Pittsburgh at +644 and Los Angeles at +636.  That shows that those three teams were the best in terms of puck possession last season and Detroit was the best of the group by a small margin.

Detroit was one of the better teams in the league last season.  They finished with the fifth seed in the West Conference.  That is a good distance back from first overall where their Corsi was.  Detroit was only three wins back of the Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks.  They were closer to being the best team in the league than many noticed.  They were kept a bit back in the standings due to lacklustre special teams.  Detroit had only the 22nd best power play and the 18th best penalty kill.  Their goaltending was not spectacular.  Jimmy Howard is a solid goalie but he has never found himself as a Vezina candidate. 

The question regarding Detroit this season is how will they do this season without Nicklas Lidstrom in their line-up.  He was their best player for the last decade.  He is irreplaceable on the Detroit defence.  There is little question that they won’t be as good a team next season.  However when we realize that they were closer to the top of the league than many realized with a first round playoff loss without home ice advantage, they likely won’t find themselves too far out of the race.  Detroit may drop a bit in the standings but they should have little trouble remaining in the playoffs.

As Corsi shows us Detroit was the best puck possession team in the regular season at five on five.  They likely won’t stay at that level next year as they are without Nicklas Lidstrom.  Pittsburgh was only four points behind Detroit in a year that they played without Sidney Crosby for the majority of the year.  Los Angeles was 12 points back and had a strong finish to the season after trading for Jeff Carter and then winning the Stanley Cup.  In all likelihood they will be among the teams ahead of Detroit but the Red Wings will remain a solid team even without Lidstrom.

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Their goaltending was not spectacular.  Jimmy Howard is a solid goalie but he has never found himself as a Vezina candidate.

He was at least a candidate until he had his injury (and before Lundqvist and some others became puck-stopping aliens).

Posted by Herm from the office on 07/17/12 at 06:21 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I understand your desire to say positive things about Jimmy Howard but the fact is he did not get a spot on any Vezina Trophy ballots at all this season and that is a minimum requirement to be considered a Vezina Trophy candidate isnt it?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/17/12 at 06:28 PM ET

Chet's avatar

you’re being a bit literal.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 07/17/12 at 06:46 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

It’s moot anyway. It’s clear that Jimmy Howard was not a major cause of Detrot’s less-than-anticipated-by-Corsi finish in the standings.

I mean, it’s arguably part of the discussion, but if you’re looking for a reason why the best team in the league at driving more shot attempts than they allowed while at 5-on-5 and saying unspectacular goaltending has a noteworthy effect, the least you could do is mention that their team 5-on-5 sv% was higher than Pittsburgh’s by .018 and only lower than Los Angeles’ by .005.

It would be just as easy to explain that Detroit’s 5-on-5 shooting% was 26th in the league

That way the data which is highlighted better matches the eyeball test.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/17/12 at 06:49 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Probably should add that the downright bad special teams play, which was mentioned, is a very good point.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/17/12 at 06:52 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Detroit Has The Best Team Corsi

LOL, this must have killed TPSH to type

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 07/17/12 at 06:52 PM ET


Most-interesting to me is by this metric, Los Angeles is way more impressive than its 15-16ish overall in the standings figure would have indicated. Feather in Team Corsi’s cap that it puts so well correlates to the eventual cup winner.

Posted by larry from pitt on 07/17/12 at 09:28 PM ET


Good point ‘larry from pitt’. I think I may pay attention to this stat more in the upcoming season

Posted by Fauxrumors on 07/18/12 at 10:32 AM ET


I’m starting to get the idea that TPSH doesn’t even watch hockey, just follows corsi ratings, which aren’t the end all be all he seems to think they are

Posted by realmk on 07/18/12 at 11:21 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar


Congratulations on starting to get ideas.  That is a positive step.  Hopefully, soon you will be fully capable of thinking for yourself.  Unfortunately at this point you are starting to think things that are untrue.  With some practise hopefully you will learn to think things that are actually true.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/18/12 at 02:39 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Good one, ThePuck.

Anyway, does anyone think that taking a tonne of shots kind of equates to missing a tonne of shots?

I mean, I understand the sample-size issue here, but wouldn’t a team with a lot of really high-end snipers score often enough on few shots that they would have a low team Corsi rating?

The ‘11-‘12 Wings took an awful lot of peripheral garbage shots, so it’s not amazing that this advanced stat comes out of it.  They outshot a tonne of teams while squeaking by 3-2, often in a SO.  Likewise, a great team with a bad goalie would have a high Corsi because the opponent would always run up the score before the shot-count.

In any case, it looks like these numbers support your conclusion that these are the top possession teams.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 07/18/12 at 02:49 PM ET


Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 07/18/12 at 01:49 PM ET

You’re talking about shot quality. Not sure where PSH comes down on this, but a lot of “stats” people seem to be of the opinion that, because they don’t have a good way to represent shot quality mathematically, it must not exist, which is a moronic way of thinking, imo.

But what’s being discussed here isn’t really relevant to that debate. When looking at Team Corsi as a proxy for, for instance, clean puck possession, the quality of the shots doesn’t matter.

If the Red Wings are getting this high a number, that doesn’t mean they’re getting scoring chances, but it DOES mean they have clean enough possession of the puck to get any type of shot off way more frequently than the opposition does.

As for the other things (crap goalie, etc) that’s what score-tied or close Fenwick is for, which, I assume, will probably be looked at in another article.

Posted by larry from pitt on 07/18/12 at 03:51 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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