by PuckStopsHere on 09/14/09 at 02:57 PM ET
In my look at sabermetrics and hockey, I am looking at the problem of combining zone starts and Corsi Number. Although a method has been proposed by objective NHL, I have made my own which I think better solves the problem.
Raw Corsi Numbers are used as a metric to rank puck possession. Because teams are more likely to allow shots if they are in the defensive zone or take shots if they are in the offensive zone, individual player’s Corsi Numbers are adjusted by 0.8 * (defensive zone starts - offensive zone starts), as it has been shown that an extra zone start on average yields 0.8 shots directed at the goal.
I have listed the top 20 zone start adjusted Corsi Numbers and found a Detroit Red Wing dominated list, due to the Red Wings high team Corsi Number last season. Team adjustments will be added to this metric in the future.
Here are the 20 worst zone start adjusted Corsi Numbers from the 2008/09 season:
Adj Corsi Number
Rank in Worst 20 Corsis
This list is much more shuffled than the top 20 zone start adjusted list. Nevertheless, they are rather similar. Eight players appear on the worst 20 raw Corsi list that are not on this list. They are Nick Schultz, Jay Bouwmeester, Kim Johnsson, Greg Zanon, Gregory Campbell, Brett Clark, Rob Niedermayer and Radek Dvorak. These players low Corsi Numbers are in part due to the tough way they were used by their team. They were frequently used in defensive settings. In their place are Evgeni Malkin, Petr Sykora, Ed Jovanovski, Jason Strudwick, Kyle Turris, Mike Comrie and Derek Morris. These are players who were used in much more offensive roles by their respective teams and nevertheless had poor Corsi Numbers.
Likely the most interesting player on this list is Evgeni Malkin. Malkin was the top scorer in the NHL last season. He was an MVP nominee. He did not have a good Corsi Number despite being used very predominantly in offensive situations. His offensive numbers were helped by his usage pattern and his defensive flaws were hidden, but these numbers reveal them quite strongly.
On this list, many of the players with the worst Corsi Numbers, such as Kurt Sauer or Zbynek Michalek, are moved from the bottom of the list due to their tough usage patterns. Others like Brendan Witt or Scott Hannan do not show the same rise. Niclas Havelid comes out worst in the league by this measure. He has lost his NHL job this summer, due to his poor performance last year and will be playing in Sweden in the upcoming season.
This list shows a group of players who were not strong in terms of puck possession last year. It does not take team effects into account, so it will be over-represented by players on weaker teams. Players on good teams who had poor seasons may not be found by this method. I will attempt that adjustment in the future. Having the NHL top scorer on the list is a bit of a surprise; however his defensive (Corsi) numbers are weak despite being given a strongly offensive role. I would use this as an argument that Malkin did not deserve his MVP nomination (though clearly anyone who leads the league in scoring is a good player.
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