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The Puck Stops Here

Team Corsi Ratings

This summer I have been looking at sabermetrics and hockey.  Specifically, I have been looking at the Corsi rating, which is the difference between shots attempted by a team and their opponents in 5 on 5 situations. This is a very good proxy for puck possession, as teams cannot attempt shots without possession of the puck. I am looking at these numbers for individual players and I have posted the top 20 and worst 20 players by raw (unadjusted) Corsi numbers.    What we have seen is that these rankings are context dependent.  They select players from a handful of teams in the top group and a different handful of teams in the bottom group.  The top and bottom Corsi players play on the top and bottom puck possession teams and often play offensive roles in the top group and defensive ones in the bottom group.

In fact the top player in the league in 2013 was Justin Williams.  He played the most regular offensive role on the top puck possession team in the NHL - the Los Angeles Kings.  The worst player in the league in 2013 was Jay McClement.  He played the most regular defensive role on the worst puck possession team in the NHL - the Toronto Maple Leafs.  We have learned a lot about the context of how these two (and other) players play from our Corsi analysis already.  The biggest selection effect right now is a team effect.  In order to accommodate that I need, I need to know the overall Corsi ratings for the various teams. 

Here they are:

2013 Teams By Corsi Ranking

1 Los Angeles Kings +495
2 New Jersey Devils +417
3 Boston Bruins +412
4 Ottawa Senators +327
5 Chicago Blackhawks +307
6 Detroit Red Wings +278
7 Montreal Canadiens +226
8 St Louis Blues +150
9 New York Rangers +149
10 Carolina Hurricanes +138
11 Vancouver Canucks +121
12 San Jose Sharks +115
13 Phoenix Coyotes +43
14 New York Islanders 0
15 Winnipeg Jets -42
16 Minnesota Wild -49
17 Florida Panthers -71
18 Colorado Avalanche -85
19 Pittsburgh Penguins -88
20 Dallas Stars -101
21 Washington Capitals -125
22 Anaheim Ducks -182
23 Columbus Blue Jackets -202
24 Tampa Bay Lightning -208
25 Philadelphia Flyers -210
26 Calgary Flames -215
27 Nashville Predators -242
28 Buffalo Sabres -403
29 Edmonton Oilers -433
30 Toronto Maple Leafs -522

It is obvious looking at this ranking of teams that better teams tend to be at the top and worse teams tend to be at the bottom but it by no means captures everything that shows the quality of a hockey team.  Some good teams in 2013 have minus Corsis including the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks.  It is possible to win despite weak puck possession.

Puck possession in 5 on 5 situations is only part of hockey.  Special team situations (penalty kills and power plays) are completely ignored here.  They can be significant.  Also ignored is the success or lack of success that a team has during their puck possession.  If a team has weak defence and goaltending and allows goals far more often than other teams when they don't possess the puck they will be worse than their Corsi ranking and if they have a strong offence that is more likely to score during their puck possessions than other teams they will be better than their Corsi ranking shows.  That said puck possession at even strength is a significant part of hockey.  It is hard to succeed without this skill or to fail completely with it.  From this list we get an interesting look at one repeatable skill that helped to determine how well they performed in 2013.  It will help to make informed predictions about how teams will do in upcoming seasons.

I plan to write three separate pieces in the future to look at specific teams.  I want to look at the Los Angeles Kings.  They were the top puck possession team in the NHL in 2013 and one of the better teams in the league.  What were they missing that kept them from being the best?  Should we expect another run at the Stanley Cup in 2014?  I also want to look at the New Jersey Devils.  They were second in the league in puck possession and missed the playoffs.  I suggest this is largely due to goaltending.  How big a difference will the addition of Cory Schneider make - even in the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk?  On the other end, I want to look at the Toronto Maple Leafs.  They are seen as a resurgent team that made the playoffs for the first time and pushed the Boston Bruins to a tough seven game first round playoff series.  Are they really that good or was the 2013 season an anomaly that occurred despite their lack of puck possession abilities?

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Da lil Guy's avatar

So what does this say about teams that are in the top 5, but have no players in the top 20 (Ottawa and Chicago)?

Curious what your thoughts are.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 07/30/13 at 03:15 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I think that it is too early to answer questions like that until we start to look at the offensive and defensive zone starts that their specific players had.  It may just be a sign that their best offensive players did not play particularly offensive roles.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/30/13 at 03:26 PM ET


Is it fair to say the Leafs played way over their heads last year and are due for a regression to the mean in 2013-14?

Posted by Eric H. on 07/30/13 at 08:44 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.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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