by PuckStopsHere on 09/11/13 at 01:13 AM ET
Steve Simmons is arguing with me in his Sunday Toronto Sun columns. In his most recent column, which is over a week old, he wrote:
The Leafs penalty killing went from almost-record terrible for years to near tops in the league last season and Jay McClement was a big part of the change and the success. But he can’t be any good because advanced statistics consider him one of the worst players in hockey.
This is how he argues. He puts a cryptic soundbite in his column that much of his readership doesn't understand. It shows that he doesn't like Corsi and the reason for his dislike is probably a failure to understand it. His comment came on the heels of my post that Jay McClement had the worst raw Corsi in 2013.
This isn't the first time he has posted something along these lines. In his previous week's column he wrote:
Another reason why I have next to great difficulty for the CORSI analytic statistic in hockey. I saw a team adjusted CORSI ranking for this past season. Tyler Seguin of the Bruins was rated fifth best in the NHL. The same Seguin whom Bruins coach Claude Julien kept on the third line, moving rookie Carl Soderberg from press box to first-line centre when Patrice Bergeron got hurt. I’ll take Julien’s instincts over strange numbers anytime
I responded to that comment, which makes no substantive argument against Corsi here.
Today I will look at the most recent comment. Jay McClement is not one of the worst players in hockey. His Corsi does not show that he is. What it shows is that Toronto is without the puck when he is on the ice more than any player on any other team plays with their opponents in control of the puck. That is a problem but it can be explained for a couple of reasons. First, his Toronto team has the worst puck possession in the NHL. Second, Jay McClement plays the toughest defensive role in the NHL with the most excess defensive zone starts of any player in the league. When these two effects are adjusted for, McClement is closer to being an average puck possession player. There is no reasonable argument that he is anywhere near the worst player in the NHL. Steve Simmons just erected a strawman to argue against and it is a pretty silly one. McClement may have been an important reason for Toronto's improved penalty kill and nothing Simmons cites argues that point. Penalty kill is a notoriously unpredictable situation because teams only spend a few hours a year on the penalty kill and that doesn't produce enough of a sample size to be meaningful.
It gets worse. The Corsi numbers I have been writing about only deal with 5 on 5 situations. Penalty killing is not a 5 on 5 situation. Simmons took numbers he didn't understand and argued them out of context. We should expect better from somebody paid to write in the mainstream media. It is really pathetic how far he missed the mark this time. His argument is about as reasonable as arguing that it wasn't a nice sunny day today because at 1 AM, the sun has set. The worst part of the argument is that he posts "soundbites" that likely don't mean anything to much of his readership and do not discuss anything enough to say anything in depth at all. His column of a couple dozen soundbites each Sunday is a lazy way to discuss anything.
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