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Toronto Has The Worst Team Corsi

A while ago I published a list of the NHL teams by their team Corsi.  This is the difference between the team's attempted shots and those taken by their opponents.  Attempted shots include shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots.  This is recorded only in five on five situations.  It is an indicator of puck possession and a repeatable portion of hockey.  It is certainly not the only piece of success as special teams, goaltending, shooting, luck and other factors also can influence how well a team does.

The worst team in the league in the 2013 season was the Toronto Maple Leafs by their team Corsi.  They posted a -522 team Corsi.  This means that more than ten extra shots were taken by their opponents than by the Leafs.  Despite this handicap, the Toronto Maple Leafs made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and they forced the Stanley Cup finalist Boston Bruins to a hard-fought seven game comeback series win.  As a result, most people think of the Leafs as a team on the rise but a more accurate representation may be as a flawed team that maximized their success last year and will be hard-pressed to ever match that success

There are three reasons for the Leaf success despite their poor puck possession.  Toronto had the highest shooting percentage in the NHL in 2013 with 11.5%.  Toronto had the second best penalty kill with an 87.9% success rate.  Toronto had remarkably strong goaltending from James Reimer and Ben Scrivens despite the fact this was seen as a weakness and required an upgrade to bring in Jonathan Bernier via trade in the off-season.

The shooting percentage success is likely unsustainable.  It tends to fluctuate significantly from year to year.  Toronto had a 9.8% shooting percentage in 2011/12, which put them closer to the league average.  It is possible, especially in a shortened season like we had in 2013, to have a significantly better shooting percentage that expectation due to luck alone.  It is clear that with similar puck possession, Toronto will not shoot as well into the future and will thus not score as much.

Penalty killing numbers are always hard to repeat as well.  Toronto spent 264 minutes on the penalty kill in 2013.  This is a little over four games and a period.  That is not a lot of time to have meaningful statistical results.  The Leafs had a huge improvement in their results.  In 2011/12, they were third last in the penalty kill with a 77.3% success rate.  Likely their expected success rate falls somewhere in the middle of the two results, but it is clear they will allow more goals while shorthanded in the future.

Goaltending is the most interesting of these three variables.  James Reimer had his first season as an NHL starter and posted a .924 saves percentage.  In 2011/12 when used primarily as a backup, he posted a .900 saves percentage.  This is a considerable improvement and not one that could have been reliably predicted.  His 2013 backup Ben Scrivens had his first full NHL season and posted a .915 saves percentage.  This gave the Leafs above average goaltending.    Scrivens was part of the Leafs trade with Los Angeles where Jonathan Bernier was brought in to shore up a goaltending pair that had been better than average, but was a surprise to have done as well.  Bernier has been a highly regarded prospect who was a first round draft pick in 2006 who had been an outstanding goalie in the AHL.  He had only been a backup in Los Angeles behind Jonathan Quick.  It is unclear how he will perform as an NHL starter.  He posted a solid .922 saves percentage in limited play in 2013.  I would think that in a best case, Reimer and Bernier should perform about as well as Reimer and Scrivens did in 2013.  It would be tough to do any better than the very good performance in 2013.  There is a real possibility that Reimer will regress and that Bernier will have troubles taking over as a starting goalie.  If that happens Toronto is in for a long year.

Toronto made the playoffs by six points in 2013.  That is a relatively small margin.  There are lots of reasons to expect that their success will not be repeatable given their poor puck possession.  They require an equal goaltending performance.  They require a top percentage.  They require a top penalty kill.  None of these are a given and the last two are quite unlikely.  I predict Toronto misses the playoffs in 2013/14.  I think 2013 was a high point for the team that will be very hard to match.

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Comments

Laran's avatar

Oh if only Corsi was relevant and included quality of shots….Puck Stops Here might have something to write a blog about….oh wait….

Posted by Laran on 08/18/13 at 03:54 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I realize I am likely responding to a seagull who drops crap and never returns.  Corsi is relevant.  Quality of shots is a much less repeatable variable.  This is shown by the wild swings in shooting percentage players and teams show from year to year.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/18/13 at 12:21 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I agree that team Corsi is relevant. I believe that score-adjusted fenwick is a better for analyzing teams, because it eliminates the habit of winning teams to get outshot while also eliminating the fact that blocked shots from a team standpoint don’t matter (the “bad” blocks end up as follow-on fenwick events while the “good” blocks don’t).

The attempts to score shooting quality so far have come up woefully short of the other metrics in use today.  The repeatability of the Leafs’ shooting percentage has so far not been established. Until it does, expecting it to repeat is foolish. When you can’t count on shooting percentages for entire teams to remain consistently above or below-average, then you run into trouble when you expect a team that consistently gets itself outshot in close game situations to continually overcome that.  It seems to happen to a few teams every season. For the other 25+, it works out as expected.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/18/13 at 01:34 PM ET

Avatar

http://somekindofninja.com/nhl/

This site has heatmaps. Tells you nothing about whether the puck was moving laterally or if there was a screen or something, but it’s better than nothing.

Not sure what the data says on the aggregate but, at the very least, it’s easy to tell the difference between say Claude Giroux (a high corsi player) and, Tyler Kennedy (a high corsi player because he takes garbage shots from bad positions).

Posted by larry on 08/18/13 at 03:07 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I am not sure what you mean by “high Corsi player” in your comment.  In 2013, Tyler Kennedy had a negative Corsi and Claude Giroux was a modest plus player on a non-playoff team.  That differentiates them already.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/18/13 at 04:00 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

I realize I am likely responding to a seagull who drops crap and never returns.

smile

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 08/18/13 at 06:32 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Any comment on the other losses/additions?

They’ve added Bolland and Clarkson and said goodbye to McArthur, Grabovski and Frattin. Is it worthwhile to look at how those personel changes might impact things for them?

Grabovski, MacArthur and Frattin were all positives corsi-wise for Toronto (MacArthur was one of their biggest positives, I think). Clarkson was a big positive on the Devils, but Bolland was a negative on the blackhawks (despite nearly 50% offensive zone starts), and took some heat for it (Coach Quenville called him out as needing to do better in terms of puck possession).

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/19/13 at 11:00 AM ET

Avatar

I am not sure what you mean by “high Corsi player” in your comment.  In 2013, Tyler Kennedy had a negative Corsi and Claude Giroux was a modest plus player on a non-playoff team.  That differentiates them already.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/18/13 at 04:00 PM ET

Look at just about any other year.

Posted by larry on 08/19/13 at 02:35 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Any comment on the other losses/additions?

They’ve added Bolland and Clarkson and said goodbye to McArthur, Grabovski and Frattin. Is it worthwhile to look at how those personel changes might impact things for them?

The short answer is that this shouldn’t be too big a deal.  Under the current CBA every team turns over a few players each year - it is set up for that to occur.  The Leafs didn’t turn over more players than any other team.  They are as close to static among their position players as can reasonably be achieved.  I don’t see any of their players coming in or out as game changers.  So I am viewing it mostly as a perturbation that is small enough that it can be neglected for now.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/19/13 at 06:36 PM ET

Avatar

I dunno here I am not seeing the value of Team Corsi at least in this one year sample. I agree it is I suppose descriptive of what was but I see little reason to say it can be predictive.

Ignoring the Islanders who are essentially at the average Team Corsi number for the league:

9 Positive teams made the playoffs
5 Negative teams made the playoffs
(and of course the Gorton fishermen did as well at 0)

That looks good at first but when you look at Points/ Wins (less SO wins) the negative Corsi teams have the edge 801/319 to 746/284. Given a good 6 teams on either side of the playoff line could have flipped either way up till the last few games I think the points wins of the negative teams trumps the apparent edge in actual playoff teams

If you are aiming to play puck possession it might be a nice metric to see if you are doing so but I don’t see at least in this year a good forward looking stat on which to guess if a team will do well in a season

Posted by paul k on 08/19/13 at 09:01 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Paul

I think your results are due in a large part to the fact that 13 teams has positive Corsis and 16 had negative ones.  Islanders as you pointed out are a zero.  9/13 positive teams (69%) made playoffs.  5/16 negative teams (31%) made playoffs.  Being a positive team made you more than twice as likely to make playoffs.

Lets look at points and wins (less SO wins as you did) per team 57.4/21.8 for positive teams and 50.0/19.9 for negative teams (I am trusting your numbers and didn’t do anything but divide your numbers by number of teams.  I am a bit suspicious given the fact that both groups average less than half their games as wins but for now I will trust your numbers).  The positive teams are clearly ahead of the negative teams.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/19/13 at 11:25 PM ET

Avatar

I will admit I did the numbers in hast but I copied them faithfully. If there is an issue it may be that I only used Wins and SO Wins (from ESPN) OT wins may well distort the data.

But I will double check

Posted by paul k on 08/20/13 at 03:35 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.

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