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Ryan Kesler’s Corsi Shows His Role Change

Ryan Kesler is a good player and his Corsi rating shows this.  It also shows how important context is to interpreting any statistics in hockey (this includes but is not limited to Corsi).  In 2009/10 Kesler had a good raw Corsi rating.  He placed 35th overall in the NHL.  This was sixth on the Vancouver Canucks. 

A first glance one might imagine that wasn’t a particularly significant achievement.  One of the major factors that influence Corsi ratings, aside from the skill of the individual player involved, is the teammates of the player.  Players on good teams will naturally have better Corsis than those on weaker teams.  If a player is sixth on his team, he is likely not the player driving the team’s results.

However there are other factors that influence Corsi ratings.  If a player consistently starts in his own zone, his opponents are more likely to take shots than his team is and thus give him a poorer Corsi.

This was significant in the case of Ryan Kesler in 2009/10.  He was used in a defensive role by the Vancouver Canucks and very often started his shifts in the defensive zone. 

We can adjust for these effects.  We can adjust Corsi ratings for both the team that the player is on and his offensive or defensive zone starts.  In 2009/10, Ryan Kesler finished fourth in the league.  Clearly this was a sign that Kesler had a very good season in 2009/10.  It showed that he played a tough defensive role and perhaps should have won the 2010 Selke Trophy.  Kesler finished as runner up behind Pavel Datsyuk, despite the fact Kesler played a tougher defensive role on his team.

In 2010/11, Kesler did not play as tough a defensive role.  Vancouver used him in more offensive situations.  Manny Malhotra was acquired as a free agent in the 2010 off season and he was used for the tough defensive zone starts.  It was Malhotra who played the tough defensive role that Kesler played the previous year.  As a result, Kesler increased his goal total from 25 to 41.

When we look at Kesler’s Corsi in 2010/11, we see that it is very good.  In fact, he leads the league with the raw (unadjusted) Corsi rating.  In this past season, it doesn’t require the same contextual adjustments to show that Ryan Kesler had a top Corsi.  This is clear with a very simple look at the statistics.

Ryan Kesler had a very good season in 2009/10 and again in 2010/11.  His Corsi ratings show this in both of these seasons.  However it shows it in different ways.  In 2009/10, his strong season is obscured in part by the tough defensive role he played.  In 2010/11 he played more of an offensive role.  Ironically he won the Selke Trophy in his less defensive season.  This shows a problem with the way the Selke Trophy is determined.

Ryan Kesler is a nice case study for Corsi ratings.  He did consistently well in the last two years but his role changed significantly.  If we correct for the appropriate things it is clear that Kesler had a good year in 2009/10 in terms of puck possession.  In 2010/11 it is far more obvious, as the corrections are not necessary.  This clearly shows how big Ryan Kesler’s role changed from year to year.

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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.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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