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Team Corsi Ratings

In today’s sabermetrics and hockey post, I will show the team Corsi ratings for 2010/11.  This is the difference between attempted shots (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots) for and against for the different teams at 5 on 5.  These numbers do a very good job of capturing how well various teams do at puck possession.  Better Corsi ratings mean better puck possession.

Of course puck possession is not everything in hockey.  A team can do significantly better or worse as a result of goaltending, special teams or other reasons.  Generally teams that do significantly better or worse in the standings than their Corsi ratings show cannot keep it up the next season.  As an example in 2009/10, the Colorado Avalanche made the playoffs but had a poor Corsi.  In 2010/11 they finished 29th overall in the league.  Their Corsi showed that 2009/10 was an overachievement that they couldn’t repeat.

Here are the 2010/11 team Corsi ratings:

2010/11 Team Corsi Ratings
1San Jose Sharks


2Detroit Red Wings


3Chicago Blackhawks


4Pittsburgh Penguins


5St Louis Blues


6Vancouver Canucks


7New Jersey Devils


8Tampa Bay Lightning


9Calgary Flames


10Los Angeles Kings


11Montreal Canadiens


12Washington Capitals


13Columbus Blue Jackets


14Boston Bruins


15Buffalo Sabres


16Phoenix Coyotes


17Florida Panthers


18Ottawa Senators


19Nashville Predators


20New York Rangers


21Philadelphia Flyers


22Carolina Hurricanes


23Atlanta Thrashers


24Dallas Stars


25Toronto Maple Leafs


26Colorado Avalanche


27Edmonton Oilers


28New York Islanders


29Minnesota Wild


30Anaheim Ducks


Looking through this list we can make several conclusions.

San Jose leads the list and that is a big part of the reason a player like Ryane Clowe could have the second best raw Corsi rating last year.  San Jose was a strong team who finished second in the West Conference.  They did so despite less than stellar goaltending from Antti Niemi.  One wonders if they might have been able to win the league if they kept Evgeni Nabokov around and if Nabokov played as well as he has in the past.

Next up are Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh.  These are three good teams who have all had recent Stanley Cup success with their current cores and all must be considered Stanley Cup contenders if their cores keep producing.

St Louis is a bit surprising in the next position.  They have a good young team and a solid goaltender in Jaroslav Halak, who didn’t have a particularly strong 2010/11.  This might be a sleeper team to watch next year.

Vancouver is next.  They were the Presidents Trophy winner and came within one game of the Stanley Cup.  In the regular season they had some very strong goaltending from Roberto Luongo, far better than any of the teams with better Corsi ratings.  This allowed them to do as well as they did.  I think in all likelihood, Luongo will have another Vezina candidate season next year, but those who think he won’t, should expect the Canucks to drop back a step.

New Jersey may have missed the playoffs last year, but they finished strong and had a pretty good team Corsi.  They should be better next year.

Tampa Bay was next.  They are followed by Calgary, another non-playoff team.  Miikka Kiprusoff may have won a Vezina trophy a few years back, but he is no longer providing top goaltending.  If you think he has the ability to bounce back, you ought to expect Calgary makes the playoffs.

Los Angeles and Montreal are next.  Washington won the East Conference in the regular season yet they sit in 12th spot.  They did suffer through a lot of injuries to key players and have likely improved their goaltending by adding Tomas Vokoun, so I wouldn’t pick them to drop off.

Columbus was next.  They are a team that with strong goaltending (can Steve Mason provide?) could be a playoff team.

Boston won the Stanley Cup despite finishing 14th in team Corsi.  I think they were a bit of a surprise cup winner.  They were not the best team in the regular season and they had by far the best goaltending in the league provided by Tim Thomas.  This shows just how important Thomas was to his team.  He should have won the Hart Trophy.

Buffalo and Phoenix are next and have Corsis a bit better than zero.  They are followed by Florida.  The Panthers puck possession suggests they should have done better than last in the East Conference.  Given the number of changes the team made in the off season, it will be hard to directly compare it to next season.

Ottawa is the best of the minus teams.  Their problem last year was poor goaltending.  I think Craig Anderson solves this problem somewhat and we should see Ottawa do better next year.

Nashville is next.  Their standing in the regular season was better than this due to strong goaltending from Pekka Rinne.  That must be repeatable or Nashville could be in trouble in the tough Central Division.

The New York Rangers and Philadelphia were next.  They were both playoff teams.  The Rangers exceeded their Corsi on the strength of Henrik Lundqvist’s goaltending.  Philadelphia was a bit more of a fluke.  They didn’t have strong goaltending.  Big changes were made in Philadelphia in the off season, so it will be hard to directly compare with next year, but they were not as good as their standing showed last year, so the team can be improved talentwise and still wind up with fewer points.  However, I don’t think they have improved their talent levels, so this team could drop a bit.

Carolina, Atlanta (now Winnipeg), Dallas and Toronto are next.  These are all weaker teams.

Colorado again has a poor team Corsi and this time their regular season standing is more in line with it.

Edmonton, New York Islanders and Minnesota were next and none were particularly good teams.

Worst in the league is the Anaheim Ducks.  They were a playoff team with some solid frontline talent in Corey Perry, who won MVP, Lubomir Visnovsky, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, but their depth was really bad.  They had some of the worst depth players in the league.  They also had strong goaltending from Jonas Hiller (and Ray Emery in his short time there).  Given Hiller’s vertigo problems and Emery’s free agency their goaltending next year may suffer and that could lead to a significant drop in Anaheim.

I will look at some of the more interesting individual teams in the future and use these team’s Corsi ratings to make team adjustments to individual players to better show which players were the difference makers in terms of puck possession.

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RWBill's avatar

Todd wins a Cup in Detroit and overlays the Wings system in SJ, getting to the WCF 2 years in a row.  No surprise really.

Posted by RWBill on 07/18/11 at 03:58 PM ET


Horrible statistical concept.  It implies that you only have a high percentage of puck possession if you widely outshoot your opponents,  so teams that hold the puck waiting for the high percentage shot apparently stink (I’m talking to you, Soviet teams of the 70’s!)  And teams whose defensive strategy is to allow the low percentage shot all day long but protect the critical scoring areas also get bad numbers. Boston was the best scoring five on five team in the NHL during the regular season, but since Corsi numbers don’t care about actually scoring they imply St Louis was a better team than Boston (and Philly and Anahaim), which anyone who actually watched the hockey games would scoff at.

Posted by Mcg on 07/18/11 at 04:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’d be willing to bet that those Soviet teams of the 70s had very high Corsi ratings.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/18/11 at 04:16 PM ET


Posted by Mcg on 07/18/11 at 03:07 PM ET

I was on the Boston bandwagon all season long. Heading into the playoffs, I thought the Bruins were the best team in the Eastern Conference, and I predicted that they would make the Stanley Cup Finals (although I did predict that they would lose to Vancouver).

That said, I never thought that Boston was one of the best NHL teams at being able to dominate possession and dictate the pace of the play. That was my impression watching the team, and the actual statistics seam to confirm my impressions.

The Bruins’ greatness was found in other areas—they had the league’s best goaltending (by far); they seemed to be pretty good at keeping teams to the outside; they were mentally focused, determined and avoided making too boneheaded mistakes; and they had a surprisingly deep and balanced (if not ultra-talented) set of forwards who could capitalize on the chances they got.

I don’t think anyone is claiming that Corsi is an as-is indication of what the best teams are. I have complained as much as anyone here about the pitfalls of Corsi (especially at the individual level), particularly the assumption that good Corsi necessary equals good play or success. In my mind, Boston certainly proved that you can be great team without necessarily being a great Corsi team.

But purely as a measure of which teams are better at hanging on to the puck and determining the pace of play, I think Corsi overall is a pretty good (not perfect, maybe not even great, but pretty good) measure at the team level.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 07/18/11 at 06:58 PM ET


Worth noting that “playing-to-the-score” is a factor here. On average, teams with the lead sit back a bit. Vancouver led so much that their Corsi suffered (their score-tied Corsi is #2). San Jose and Detroit trailed quite a fair bit more than in past years.

Posted by Ralph on 07/18/11 at 08:11 PM ET


Horrible statistical concept.  It implies that you only have a high percentage of puck possession if you widely outshoot your opponents,  so teams that hold the puck waiting for the high percentage shot apparently stink.

I understand what you’re saying, Mcg, but conceptually, if a team held the puck waiting for the high percentage shot, then their team corsi (though lower on raw count) should still be positive if they are good at what they do. While they may not take as many shots, neither will their opponents, simply because the opponents won’t have the puck enough to do so.

Consider a team that is able to completely dominate, and control the puck at all times, but takes only three shots a game. Since their opponents do not control the puck at all, over the course of a season, team corsi would be +246 (ranking them 9th on the list).

As for teams that allow low percentage shots from the outside, yes their corsi would suffer from that, but as a tactic allowing shots like that will be successful only if you can turn those low percentage shots into turnovers and regain possession. Allowing 40 low percentage shots per game without corresponding puck possession the other way will not only cause a team to collect a bad team corsi, it will also cause them to lose a lot of games.

Corsi is not a perfect measure, but it is a solid concept.

Posted by SteMaturin on 07/19/11 at 10:15 AM ET


The r value between zone time differential and Corsi differential in 2001-2002 was 0.9.

Posted by Ralph on 07/19/11 at 01:59 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

2001-2002 ?  Is that year correct or do you have a typo in the year?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/19/11 at 02:23 PM ET



Posted by Ralph on 07/19/11 at 03:17 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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