A Corsi-centric Discussion of Advanced Stats

Updated: November 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm by Kent Wilson



Justin Bourne and I got together to discuss a few things in the realm of hockey analysis recently. The full thing can be found here at Backhand Shelf, but here’s a taste of the back and forth:

Kent Wilson:

Perhaps we could discuss this from your latest “Thoughts on Thoughts” piece: “Guys who lose a lot of puck battles end up with poor Corsis, and with the (slight) rise in the prevalence of that stat, I think those guys are going to be more exposed than ever.” Is this something you intuited or is it something that’s been studied? I, personally, assume there could be a relationship there and in fact have thought it would be great if we could track puck battles to see if they correlate with possession (like the way Eric did with zone entries).

That said, I’m not totally convinced this is necessarily true, particularly if the player has other well developed skills that may compensate for poor puck battling abilities (on the flip side, I think it’s possible to have a lousy corsi even if you’re strong in the trenches due to poor skating, puck play etc.). Related topic – the rise of corsi. Is that your assumption based on it’s prevalence in independent circles or have you heard whispers that some in the league are paying attention to it?

Justin Bourne:

I made the comment that guys who lose a lot of puck battles will have poor Corsis from my own experience as a player. When you have a linemate battling for a puck down low, and you’re in your position, you’re praying he comes out with it. If he doesn’t, you’re headed back on defense. So many times I remember personally getting bumped off pucks, and being partly pissed because I wasn’t going to get an offensive opportunity, but mostly because I knew I now had to skate the length of the ice (hard), and would likely be spending the shift in the d-zone.

It’s pretty clear to me that losing puck battles will negatively affect your Corsi in a significant way. I do agree that it’s possible to compensate for lost puck battles with other skills, specifically by making good decisions with the puck. (Though, you’d have to be making *great* decisions with them in the neutral zone to make up for something as damaging as losing battles.) One thing I hope people who follow Corsi know, is that it’s mostly a decision-making metric, at least in my mind. Guys who turn the puck over a lot have their Corsi hurt. Guys who can’t figure out a way to get the puck out of their D-zone have their Corsi hurt.

It’s largely mental. And I don’t follow the stat crazy-close, I just think I have a good grasp of the things that dictate the direction of the puck. Something like good skating can help you win a puck race or two and improve your Corsi, but that happens a time or two a game. You probably touch the puck and need to make a decision 20 times a night…

We go on to talk about the rise of possession and advanced metrics in mainstream coverage and why people might find some of them intimidating. Again, the rest can be found at Justin’s place.