With the season fast approaching, I figure that now is a good time to start my pre-season predictions. I will begin today in the Pacific Division.
1. Los Angeles Kings - The Kings are the most talented of the teams in this division. Should they fail to win the division it is likely due to a Stanley Cup hangover. They may not be as fresh as any other team having had a shorter summer and they may not be as up for the more meaningless regular season games as some opponents. Jonathan Quick gives them a solid goalie. Drew Doughty may be the top defenceman in the game. Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams are some very good forwards. The popular opinion for people trying to find a significant weakness for this team comes from stating that Mike Richards is overpaid as a fourth line centreman - but that misses the point that the Kings have the depth to put an ex-Olympian on the fourth line.
When I last posted about a week and a half ago, I posted the worst 20 players by adjusted Corsi as a rate stat. Corsi is the difference between attempted shots in five on five situations when a given player is on the ice. In order to make it more of an individualized stat, there are adjustments made for the team and usage of the player and it is divided by five on five playing time. This is a good measure of the puck possession ability of the player involved. The worst player among those who played 50 or more games last year is Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames.
McGrattan is a goon. He appeared in 76 games last year scoring four goal and four assists. His offensive contribution was minimal. He had 100 penalty minutes, which placed him 32nd in the NHL. The Flames knew he had little value despite the fact he dressed almost every game. They only played him a little over six minutes per game. When he played, the puck was going the other direction. Calgary's opponents had control of the puck. McGrattan offered little to his team besides fighting.
This was predictable. McGrattan has never been a valuable hockey player. His four goals and eight points were career highs - as was his 76 games played. Despite his lack of success in the past and the fact he is into his thirties, Calgary signed him to a two year contract in 2013. Thus he will be back with the team for the 2014/15 season.
I am continuing my summer sabermetrics and hockey series today by looking at the 20 worst players in the 2013/14 season by adjusted Corsi rate. Corsi is the difference between attempted shots taken by a team and their opponents when a given player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations. This is a gage of puck possession, but it is a team gage and not an individual one. In order to make it an individual gage, the Corsi rating must be adjusted for the team that a player plays on as well as their usage by that team as shown by their zone starts. This list is then expressed as a rate stat by dividing it by the amount of ice time a player plays in 5 on 5 situations. This should give a list of poor puck possession players. In order to assure that players on the list played a sufficient number of games to have a meaningful rating, this list is limited to players who played at least 50 games played in the 2013/14 season.
Here are the worst 20 players by adjusted Corsi rate in 2013/14:
A while ago I posted the top 20 players in the 2013/14 season by team and zone start adjusted Corsi rate. This is the difference in attempted shots by a player's team and his opponents when a player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations. It is then adjusted for the team the player plays upon and the zone in which the player's shifts tend to begin. This Corsi is then divided by the number of minutes played in 5 on 5 situations by the player in question. This is a measure of the puck possession ability of the player in question. Since it is a rate stat, the hope is that some unlikely players will have high Corsi rates. These would be players who do not get much ice time but when they do their team has the puck and is moving it in the right direction. These would be diamond in the rough players with strong puck possession ability.
The biggest example of one such player in Zenon Konopka. He split last season between the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres. Offensively he was a non-factor. He posted one goal and two assists in 59 games. Thus he was easily overlooked. In fact Konopka is an unsigned free agent who may not find a team in time for the start of the season.
Konopka is an interesting player and I have written about his puck possession in the past.
In my summer sabermetrics and hockey series, I have written several posts about Corsi ratings and how to adjust them to make them reflective of individual play. I listed a top 20 players by team and zone start adjusted Corsi ratings. This is the difference in attempted shots by a team and their opponents in five on five situations when a given player is on the ice. Since that number will depend upon the team a player plays on that is adjusted. It also depends upon the way a player is used. If he starts the majority of his shots in the offensive zone he will tend to have a good Corsi rating when compared to a player who starts his shifts in the defensive zone. When I posted this, poster Captain Eclectic asked if I can post this per minute of even strength played by each given player. I have done that.
Here are the top 20 players in 2013/14 by team and zone adjusted Corsi, but listed per minute of 5 on 5 play (and limited to players with 50 or more games played in the season):
The Edmonton Oilers were not a good team in 2013/14. They had more excess defensive zone starts than any other team in the NHL. As a result it is expected that many of their top players would not have good puck possession numbers. When I ranked the worst 20 players by Corsi rating adjusted for team and zone starts, Edmonton did quite poorly. Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference, their top defence pairing finished in 7th and 8th worst place respectively. Their top forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall were 9th and 10th worst respectively. Edmonton had themselves in a situation where you cannot win. If your opponents possess the puck when your best players are on the ice, you will not win.
The circumstances surrounding the defencemen puck possession and the forwards puck possession are different. The defencemen (Schultz and Ference) were among the poorest players in the league in terms of raw Corsi (Schultz finished 8th and Ference 9th). Adjustments did little to change their rankings. Hall and Nugent-Hopkins are more offensive players and the Oilers made an effort to give them give them offensive zone starts in order to try to boost their offensive chances. Edmonton, being the weak offensive team that they are, failed to get them into the league leaders. The problem was that despite their offensive zone starts, these Oiler forwards often spent their time chasing the puck into the defensive zone. In part this is because they played for a weak team and though there is an attempt to adjust for it, it cannot be done perfectly. In part this is because their puck possession is not so strong. Once they lost control of the puck, their defence was weak and they were rarely able to recover it.
Last week I posted the top 20 players in the NHL in 2013/14 by team and zone adjusted Corsi rating. I continue my sabermetrics and hockey series by posting the 20 worst players in 2013/14.
Corsi ratings are a measure of puck possession. They are the difference in shots attempted by a team and their opponents when a given player is on the ice. The problem is the number will depend upon all of the players on the ice and not only the individual player. Thus I have taken the raw Corsi rating and applied a team adjustment and another adjustment for zone starts. This attempts to take into account an individual team's puck possession ability and the effects of which zone a player tends to play in. I am using a conversion of 0.6 Corsi events per excess zone start (the accuracy of this number is somewhat in question). I have also subtracted a team's zone starts as they would otherwise be double counted since a team adjustment has already been made. Should a player change teams over the course of the season, any team adjustments will be a combination of the two team's adjustments pro-rated for the number of games spent on each club.
Here are the worst 20 players by team and zone adjusted Corsi in 2013/14:
A few days ago I posted the top 20 players by team and zone adjusted Corsi. This is an attempt to turn Corsi (attempted shots for minus against while a player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations) into an individualized stat to measure puck possession. Leading the league is Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. He posted a +401.04 rating which is nearly thirty points above any other player. This is the second straight year that Bergeron has led the league.
Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward in the NHL. He plays against tough opposition and gets a significant number of defensive zone starts and nevertheless his team holds possession of the puck. This is a sign of a very strong player. Patrice Bergeron is such a strong defensive forward that he may be on track to have a Hall of Fame career. This is a big achievement. Bob Gainey is possibly the only player in the Hall of Fame who is primarily a defensive forward who didn't have significant offensive ability. Bergeron is a good enough player that he can follow that path if he continues playing at a top level for the next few years. The fact that he is selected as the top puck possession player in the NHL by his team and zone adjusted Corsi is a success of Corsi analysis.
I am continuing my sabermetrics and hockey series by listing the top 20 players in 2013/14 by team and zone adjusted Corsi ratings. This is the difference between attempted shots for a team and their opponents while a given player is on the ice. It is adjusted for the team a player plays upon and for their zone starts (I am using 0.6 Corsi events per excess zone start - but there is not a consensus in this value). This is an attempt to create an individualized ranking of a given player's puck possession abilities. It isn't perfect. A player's linemates and opposition are not clearly taken into account. Nevertheless this is a pretty good attempt to capture the best puck possession players in 2013/14.
Here are the top 20 players in 2013/14 by team and zone adjusted Corsi:
A few days ago I posted the top 20 players by excess defensive zone starts in 2013/14. Leading the league was Boyd Gordon of the Edmonton Oilers who had 487 excess defensive zone starts (defensive zone - offensive zone). This gives him a well over 100 zone start lead over anyone else in the league. Boyd Gordon played the most defensive role in the NHL (at least by zone starts) and he did so by a significant margin.
Part of the reason Gordon was on the ice for so many defensive zone faceoffs is that Edmonton was a poor team and had more defensive zone starts as a team than any other. Gordon is the Oilers best faceoff man and they used him for key defensive zone faceoffs. This put him in a very tough role.
Statistically it is easy to overlook Gordon. He scored eight goals and 21 point. He posted a -15 +/- rating. These numbers do not suggest anything special. The fact that he played such a tough role shows that he had a significant value to his team that isn't shown in these numbers.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
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