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Anaheim Ducks Have Worst Team Corsi

When I listed the team Corsi ratings for 2010/11, the Anaheim Ducks come in last in the league.  They have a -779 team rating.  This is more than 140 points worse than any other team in the league.  How is that possible for a playoff team?  How is that possible for a team that finished in fourth seed in the West Conference?

They did have a poor +/- for a team that finished that well of only +4, but that is a positive ranking which is not in line with the worst negative Corsi in the league.  They had some strong front line performances.  Corey Perry was named MVP.  Lubomir Visnovsky finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting and should have done even better.  Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and Toni Lydman all put in some solid seasons.  The problem was that nobody else did.  The remaining depth wasn’t even average.  It was bad.

Cam Fowler was an 18 year old rookie who isn’t defensively strong enough for the NHL.  His opponents had little trouble exploiting him.  Anaheim used him for over 22 minutes a game.  Luca Sbisa is a young defenceman who did no better defensively and didn’t provide much offence.  He played almost 17 minutes per game.  Andreas Lilja is a veteran player who played over 17 minutes a game where he was pretty ineffective.  Anaheim was exploited significantly when any of these three played and they all played significant roles with the team.  Among the forwards Brandon McMillan was also a heavily exploited player.  He has shown little to convince us that he is an NHL calibre player.  Todd Marchant and Saku Koivu are an aging pair of forwards that Anaheim tried to use in shutdown roles.  Both showed us that their best days are gone.  Marchant has not retired and there is a good chance Koivu joins him next year when his contract expires.  These are six of the worst 20 Corsi players last year.  In fact it is five of the worst eight.

Anaheim is an example of a team that could significantly be improved merely by adding “replacement level players”.  A good portion of their depth played below that level.  It is possible that young players like Fowler, Sbisa and McMillan will do better in the future as they should be improving with NHL experience.  It is hoped that some new depth will arrive in the off-season, although Anaheim largely avoided the free agent market this summer.  The biggest off-season addition is Andrew Cogliano who was acquired in trade from Edmonton.  Francois Beauchemin was acquired late in the season from Toronto.  That is likely not enough to significantly improve the Duck’s depth.

Anaheim managed to do well despite these problems in puck possession in part due to strong goaltending.  Jonas Hiller was a Vezina Trophy candidate until he was felled by vertigo problems.  Hiller only played three games after February began and his numbers dropped in his last several starts.  In his absence, Ray Emery can in to play 10 games with a .926 saves percentage.  Anaheim had strong goaltending.  Their goaltending went a long way toward their success.  Without strong goaltending, Anaheim is in trouble in 2011/12.  Will Hiller recover from his vertigo issues?  It appears Emery will not be back as he remains an unrestricted free agent.

Anaheim did well on special teams.  They had the third best power play in the league.  Their front-line talent was helpful here.  This helps them to do well despite struggling in puck possession at even strength.

The Anaheim Ducks missed the playoffs in 2009/10.  They had been consistently on their way down since their 2007 Stanley Cup.  Last year was an aberration.  They overachieved and had a strong year.  It is reasonable to think that some of their stars won’t be able to repeat their 2010/11 season.  Does anyone seriously think Corey Perry will repeat as MVP or top goal scorer?  Lubomir Visnovsky had a Norris Trophy candidate season at age 34.  He wasn’t taken seriously as a Norris candidate by some because of his lack of a track record.  This suggests his season is unrepeatable.  Anaheim is likely to not have as good a season from either of these players.

Anaheim is a team who overachieved in 2010/11 and their Corsi shows it.  They are the best example of the Colorado Avalanche who overachieved their Corsi rating in 2009/10 and then missed the playoffs in 2010/11.  The Ducks may not crash as badly as Colorado did, but Anaheim is a strong candidate to not do as well in the upcoming season as they did last season.  They are a good bet to drop in the standings next year and their Corsi is strong evidence for it.

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Comments

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PSH,

Not trying to start a war here, but it seems like cognitive dissonance to me that you would talk about Anaheim’s poor depth (which I agree with) and at the same time cite relative Corsi as one of the reasons you chose Lubomir Visnovsky as your Norris Trophy pick. (Not the only reason, I realize, but one of the reasons.)

(I apologize for going a bit off topic here. You shouldn’t feel the need to respond if you don’t want to, as I imagine these debates have grown pretty tiresome for you.)

Visnovski’s raw Corsi is negative. His relative Corsi is highly positive because of the ineptitude of many of his teammates.

Visnovsky was a premier player on a team that was very overmatched. In that sense, he may have contributed more “win shares” or “point shares” than any other defenseman in the NHL. (In fact, I have seen some statistics that back up that claim.) Since you’re on record stating that this was more or less your determining factor for determining the “best” player, I really can’t argue one way or another.

But to borrow another one of your analogies, I can’t help but think that Visnovsky was the $700,000 diamond in the bag of rocks. Big share of his total, but maybe not the best in the league.

For what it’s worth.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 07/22/11 at 05:03 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

The idea of a win share number as Bill James uses them in baseball is to have a value of how many wins a player produced regardless of his teammates.  The idea is to get rid of the arguments about what teammates did or did not do.  I think you are misunderstanding things a bit to then try to bring it back in now.

Visnovsky was brought down by weak teammates and nevertheless put up a high +/- rating and led defencemen in points.  When we look at relative Corsi ratings among the top four Norris candidates, Chara and Visnovsky are well ahead of Weber who is ahead of Lidstrom.  I think I am fully consistent in picking Visnovsky for the Norris.  It is clear that there was no runaway winner.  The median position Lidstrom, Weber, Chara and Visnovsky all held on voter’s ballots was 3rd place.  Most voters argued that any one of them should not have won.  Hence you can make a somewhat plausable argument that Visnovsky didn’t deserve to win, but i don’t think that argument is that his temmates were not very good and he appears better in comparison to them than other players might who have more competent teammates.  That is actually the opposite argument that people tend to make.  They tend to argue that player X shouldn’t win because he had a lot of help from qualified teammates and you are arguing the opposite.

The strongest argument against Visnovsky is his defensive play.  He had pretty strong defensive play against the best players their opponents offered.  He had a huge amount of playing time - moreso than some of the other Norris candidates.  This isn’t as cut and dried an argument as most who argue against Visnovsky want to make it sound.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/22/11 at 05:18 PM ET

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I do agree that the race did not have a runaway winner. And really, I don’t begrudge your Visnovsky pick that much. I used to, but I don’t anymore. You’ve swayed me to some extent.

But the one point I want to hit is the idea of Visnovsky’s stats being “dragged down by his teammates.” It’s true that Visnovsky’s team, overall, was not very good. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he played with bad teammates. The only teammates that affect your stats are the ones who are on the ice with you (well, that’s not 100 percent true, but close enough).

Visnovsky spent almost half his total 5 on 5 five ice time with the Ducks’ top line of Corey Perry (47.7 percent), Bobby Ryan (44 percent) and Ryan Getzlaf (42 percent). That is a lot of ice time with a lot of very good players.

After that, Visnovsky spent about 26-30 percent of his ice time with the Ducks’ second line of Koivu (29.3), Selanne (28.4 percent) and Blake (26.5 percent). Koivu struggled, but Selanne was still a very good player, and Blake was still one of the better players on Anaheim’s roster.

Visnovsky shared no more than 13.2 percent of his ice time with any other Duck, with the exception of his regular defense partner Toni Lydman (75.7 percent).

You could make the argument that Visnovsky and Lidstrom were comparable in terms of the average quality of teammates that shared the ice with them at any given time. Lidstrom didn’t have as many terrible teammates, but also had a more spread out slate of linemates with a number of players who don’t come close to matching the talent of Anaheim’s top line or Selanne.

In that sense, I do think it’s fair to say that a player in Visnovsky’s situation might have an inflated relative Corsi, because while the majority of his ice time was shared with very good players, the players he DIDN’T play much with (basically Anaheim’s bottom two lines and overmatched defenders) performed poorly. Because his team is so top-heavy, Visnovsky was able to yield the benefit of playing with all-stars despite playing for a mediocre team overall.

If Anaheim and Detroit had traded their bottom two lines and bottom two defense pairings, straight up, at the beginning of the year, it isn’t inconceivable to think that Lidstrom would have had a better relative Corsi than Visnovsky this season.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 07/22/11 at 06:25 PM ET

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But again, not trying to start a war—just a discussion. I find them enlightening, despite our differences.

I concede that there are other very good arguments in Visnovsky’s favor.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 07/22/11 at 06:28 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Visnovsky is the one who drove any good Corsi ratings on Anaheim’s top lines.  He was the one who had the best numbers.  He helped to improve the numbers of his teammates moreso than the other way around.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/22/11 at 06:29 PM ET

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You might well be right.

Then again, the Corsi numbers of Anaheim’s top forwards were much better in 2009-2010, when Scott Niedermayer and James Wisniewski were the ones getting the majority of shifts with the top line.

Then again AGAIN, Anaheim missed the playoffs in 2009-2010. So what do I know?

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 07/22/11 at 06:40 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I think the main reason for the drop from year to year is that in 2010/11 Anaheim gave regular minutes to three defencemen who were very ineffective.  They are Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa and Andreas Lilja.  In 2009/10, Sbisa was the only one who was a member of the Ducks and he only played 8 games.  Three new defencemen who are really struggling makes a significant difference.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/22/11 at 07:46 PM ET

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That’s a fair point.

The thing that makes advanced hockey statistics so interesting to me is that, while they can tell us a lot about certain players and help us to think about the game in different ways, their shortcomings really reinforce how difficult a task it is to try to quantify player performance in a team environment. Hockey is much trickier in this regard than a sport like baseball, for obvious reasons.

Thanks for these posts, PSH. I know you get a lot of crap from time to time—even from me—but I really do enjoy and learn from your take on the game.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 07/22/11 at 08:11 PM ET

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I hate to break it to whoever wrote this, but some of those stats don’t mean anything. I watched 86 and a half of the 87 Ducks games this season (most of which lasted until 1AM in my time zone) and Cam Fowler dramatically improved over the course of the season and proved himself to be a not only effective, but dominant at times. His speed created so many opportunities and his defensive play got better as the season went a long. This team will only improve, they have SO MANY skilled prospects and young players that are in some cases not even a year away from playing well at the NHL level. This team is only getting better, and I may sound incredibly biased, but I strongly believe it’s true. As for Hiller, Murray called him and he hasn’t had any Virtigo symptoms in months. With him in net and the talent they have, and the players developing, it won’t be long before they’re back in the Stanley Cup Finals. Even if the kids take a while longer, they’re an example of a team that can dominate without having the necessary components of a “Cup-Contender”.

On another note, I agree with 80% of what you wrote, and it was a great read. I’ll be back.

Posted by Devon from Barrie, Ontario on 07/24/11 at 04:31 AM ET

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And by the way, Emery was horrible in the playoffs. He has a ton of talent but is probably the most oblivious goalie to what’s going on around him I’ve ever seen. That Weber snap shot to tie the game with 32 seconds left or whatever was an embarrassing showing of poor positioning which ruined the Ducks playoff run.

Posted by Devon on 07/24/11 at 04:33 AM 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.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com