• Corsi% Proxies of Yore

    by  • November 16, 2013 • Uncategorized • 7 Comments

    The pre-2007-08 season is commonly referred amongst hockey stat nerds as the pre-BTN era, because we don’t have much available in terms of data. The NHL has, somewhat recently, added some stuff to their site which allows for the calculation of ES+SH SF and ES+SH SA for the 1997-98 to 2006-07 seasons. It’s not quite Corsi but it’s close enough that you can get a look at things. The data’s in a Google Doc here – I’ve tried to embed it and we’ll see if that works.

    A lot of things jump out at me, so I’ll do it in point form. I’m saying Corsi% here but what I mean is (ES+SH SF/ES+SH SA) – Corsi% is just a lot easier to type:

    *Randy Carlyle’s Stanley Cup champion Ducks were a really good possession team at 53.5%

    *The 2002-03 Flames actually had really good possession numbers (52.5% of the shots). That was Roman Turek’s last season as their main starter. Their rise probably shouldn’t have been as surprising as it seemed at the time – then or now, a .902 save percentage over 65 games, which is what Turek gave the Flames in 2001-02, is going to make it awfully tough to win. It’s kind of funny that Craig Button is so anti-analytics – a wise stat guy might have said “Uh, Turek’s a disaster.”

    *2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes: 48% possession. 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers: 53.1% possession. The hockey gods are sick, sick people.

    *Kind of interesting that Colorado wasn’t really anything special possession-wise in these years, outside of 2000-01, when they got Ray Bourque a Stanley Cup.

    *This data should be good for Dave Tippett’s legend. Look at his first full season in 2002-03 – Dallas’s Corsi% perks up three points.

    *Detroit is what we always thought they were.

    *The 2001-06 Oilers had a really nice Corsi% run. This is part of the reason that I believe in MacT. He has ideas about what works. I think his ideas are, generally speaking, correct. (If he happens across this, I’m sure he’ll appreciate the endorsement). There are people out there – Toronto Maple Leafs, I’m talking to you – who seem to have crazy ideas about how to win games. There’s no guarantees in life and fewer in sports but I’d rather bet on a guy who has the right ideas. Particularly when he’s got a roster that already has a bunch of young star calibre players.

    All of that said, a Christian Ehrhoff or a Brian Campbell would sure look good in Edmonton.

    *The Devils are an absolute powerhouse during this period. They don’t get enough credit for how dominant they were, which is a weird thing to say.

    *Philly’s numbers are pretty cool too – back to back seasons north of 56% in 1998-99 and 1999-00 is just dominant. Eric Lindros played most of those years. He missed the 2000-01 season and was then dealt to the Rangers. Philadelphia’s Corsi% took a hit although by 2002-03 they were back to post a 56%+ Corsi%.

    *Ottawa had evolved into a really high Corsi% team by the team this data starts and stayed that way throughout. The big drop in their Corsi% in 2006-07 is really interesting – Zdeno Chara, who has proven himself to be something of a Corsi% machine in Boston left that season. Boston somehow had a big Corsi% drop in 2006-07 – it’s a real pity that we don’t have individual level data for this period because it’d probably be pretty cool to look at.

    As I write this, I realize that I suspect that the league probably has the necessary data available to compile all of this. We know that they used to publish shift charts, which suggests that they’ve got data files going back to 1997-98 that tell you who is on the ice at a given point in time. It’d be awfully cool if someone was able to convince them to release this into the public domain.

    *I have, on occasion, called the Senators the NHL’s first great team to never win a Stanley Cup. This is something that we’ll see more of now that it’s harder to keep a great team together but the Sens had an eight year run in which they were an awfully strong team and won nothing. I think I’m going to have to add the Blues to that list. From 1998-2002, St. Louis had a Corsi% of 57.4%, which is mindblowingly good.

    If you want a sense of how good Chris Pronger is, when he missed almost the entire 2002-03 season, the Blues Corsi% dropped from 56.7% to 53.6%. If you do the math, that’s about 17 goals or so. It’s an enormous difference. It’s one thing for Pronger to make a big difference on a lesser team; it’s quite another to make such a difference on one of the best teams around. Also interesting – Proger’s addition in Edmonton and Anaheim didn’t give those teams particularly huge jumps, Corsi% wise. Again, it’d be interesting to be able to take a look at the individual data and see if we can suss out why.

    The one commonality in the Blues/Sens not winning a Cup, in my view? Goaltending. Both teams ran with guys who weren’t really that good but put up lots of wins behind dominant teams. St. Louis made the playoffs in 1998-99 with a Grant Fuhr/Jamie McLennan tandem. They had save percentages in .892/.891 respectively. They replaced them the following year with Roman Turek, who won a Jennings Trophy despite a save percentage of .912. Turek bombed the following year and was dealt to Calgary, where he proceeded to sink the Flames. Ottawa hobbled themselves with Patrick Lalime.

    *I mentioned this on Twitter but boy was that 2006-07 Maple Leafs team good shots wise. Shame about Andrew Raycroft.

    Anything else that jumps out at people?

    Email Tyler Dellow at tyler@mc79hockey.com


    7 Responses to Corsi% Proxies of Yore

    1. Boris
      November 16, 2013 at

      Wow, thanks for digging this up! Hard to overstate how big a deal it could become if the gatekeepers would let all those old numbers come out and play.

      Just taking a quick sniff, variability looks a lot higher post-lockout. Given the cap, shuffling chairs, rule tweaks, and all the other stuff that made things weird in ’05 the big changes seem expected, but there seem a lot of teams that had big swings in ’06 as well – though again, that’s just with a quick eye scan.

      Seeing how wildly TOR vacillated between ’01 and ’06 (quite remarkable, really) seems like it could teach a lot about the world, or at least a little about Leafs fans.

    2. Boris
      November 16, 2013 at

      Also, further to your Pronger note: it may be that he alone didn’t provide huge possession boosts to new teams, but between this and more recent team Corsi data it sure looks like all his teams (save Philly) cratered in that regard as soon as he left. But again, there’s only so much to be said without individual data…

    3. DR
      November 16, 2013 at

      Stanley Cup Winning for Idiots

      1 – Sign Scott Niedermayer
      2 – Trade for Chris Pronger
      3 – Argle-Bargle-Blarney

    4. DK
      November 17, 2013 at

      Pretty apparent that Brodeur was the main reason for the Devils playoff failures in ’97, ’98, and ’99 and on the other hand the main reason for the Devils staying competitive in ’06 and ’07.

      • Triumph
        November 17, 2013 at

        Brodeur was awful in 99, but in 97 and 98 the Devils simply could not score. In 98 they scored only 12 goals in 6 games, and in 97 they scored 5 goals in 5 games. Not easy to win that way.

    5. Hop
      November 17, 2013 at

      I have, on occasion, called the Senators the NHL’s first great team to never win a Stanley Cup.

      1980s Flyers (whom any Smythe division Oilers fan will remember well)?

    6. Hawerchuk
      November 17, 2013 at


      We can get EV shots back to the late 90s already. I probably have it somewhere…

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