by PuckStopsHere on 07/28/10 at 01:55 PM ET
In today’s sabermetrics and hockey post, I will combine team and zone start effects to adjust Corsi Numbers. The Corsi Number is the difference in the number of shots directed at goal (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots) for a team and its opposition. It is a strong predictor of puck possession in a game.
There are several reasons why looking at raw, unadjusted Corsi Numbers can be flawed. The biggest two are team effects and individual usage of players. If a player is on a good team that possesses the puck well, he is likely to have a good Corsi Number as a result of his teammates. The reverse is true on a bad team. If a player is consistently used for defensive zone starts and not offensive ones, he is more likely to have shots directed at his goal and vice versa for players who get many offensive zone starts.
For this calculation, we begin with a player’s Corsi Number and adjust it for team effects by taking their team’s zone start adjusted Corsi (each extra offensive zone start is worth 0.8 Corsi points and each extra defensive zone start is worth -0.8) and divide it by 5 (to represent the five players on the ice in even strength situations). We then look at the zone starts of the individual player and adjust the Corsi by 0.8 for each additional offensive zone start (as this has been shown to be the average number of shots at goal generated in an offensive zone start or allowed in a defensive one).
This list will give us some of the best puck possession players in the NHL. Some are players who have been hidden in earlier rankings because of tough roles on weaker teams.
Here are the top 20 zone and team adjusted Corsi Ratings for 2009/10:
Duncan Keith leads this list. He also led the top 20 raw Corsi ratings. The adjustments applied did not remove him from the lead. I do not think most people realize just how clear Duncan Keith’s claim to being the NHL’s best defenceman was last season.
Nicklas Lidstrom is next. He was somewhat overlooked as a Norris Trophy candidate because he has won it so often and is beginning to decline, but perhaps he should have been a nominee.
Next up is Alexander Ovechkin. He is the top forward and missed ten games, thus having significantly less playing time than Keith or Lidstrom. I would use this result as further evidence that Ovechkin should have been MVP.
Ryan Kesler is the top defensive forward on this list. He played a tough role in Vancouver, but when all is adjusted, he comes out very well.
Zdeno Chara, Pavel Datsyuk, Brian Rafalski and Patrice Bergeron are next. They are all strong two way players who should not surprise anyone for being among the best puck possession players in hockey.
Dustin Penner shows that it is possible to make this list and be on the last place team in the league. This shows that the adjustment process is strong enough to remove a good player from a bad situation.
Mason Raymond is perhaps the biggest surprise on the list so far. He is a strong two -way player who is overlooked a bit playing behind the Sedins. Perhaps his ranking is a little bit high due to the amount of time he played with Ryan Kesler, as it is very hard to removed linemate effects from these ratings.
Next up is a foursome of Nashville Predators. Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Marcel Goc and Patric Hornqvist come in next. Perhaps Marcel Goc is the biggest surprise since he plays a defensive role on the Preds. They give Nashville a strong core and likely tend have a mutual benefit on their ratings due to playing with one another.
Frans Nielsen is a player who plays a largely defensive role with the New York Islanders, but does it well. He is next.
Then comes rookie Peter Regin. He benefitted from poor opposition quality much of last year, but he drove puck possession when he was on the ice.
The list completes with Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Rich Peverley. These are all players who clearly drive puck possession with their respective teams. Peverley is the biggest story here since he was a waiver pick-up by the Atlanta Thrashers.
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