• CorsiRel and Famous Defencemen II

    by  • May 30, 2014 • Hockey • 11 Comments

    It turns out that the back half of the alphabet contains a lot more interesting defencemen, so there are many more graphs here. If you missed the first part of this, it’s here. What I’ve done is looked at the Corsi% of famous defencemen compared to their teams when they weren’t on the ice in seasons in which they a) played for the same team all year, b) played at least 19 minutes a night and c) played at least 41 games. To the graphs.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 1.37.19 PM

    I really think Philly could miss the playoffs next year.

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    He’s going to be a free agent of some note if he gets to UFA but I don’t think I’d have a ton of interest in Markov, even before his injury problems come up.

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    McDonagh looks like a star, particularly when we know that he plays a disproportionate amount of his minutes against the other team’s best forwards.

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    Can YOU guess when Tyler Myers got his huge contract? As better data comes online, we’re going to have a much better sense of what drives seasons like he had in 2010-11, when he was a possession machine. There’s talk in Buffalo that he bounced back this year; not sure I see it.

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    Another member of this summer’s sterling class of UFA defencemen.

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    This graph kind of illustrates why I have trouble with people who think that Jeff Petry is the Oilers’ problem. His numbers are better than the team’s, two years out of three, with Petry playing a lot of tough minutes. The year he was the same as the team, there was a lot of odd stuff going on, with basically one forward line (Hall/Eberle/RNH) doing anything in terms of possession. That makes me a bit suspicious that tactics kind of sewered his numbers.

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    I’ve talked a lot about Phaneuf over the past year or so. Suffice it to say that, barring serious injury, I have a hard time believing that he became an awful hockey player. Again, I’m suspicious of the tactics being employed here. When Carlyle replaces Wilson, Phaneuf becomes a disaster.

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    I really do wonder about defensive defencemen and whether or not it’s just a brilliant marketing label for a guy who spends a lot of time in his own end.

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    Not much to see here – a guy who has made a very good team better when he’s on the ice, three years out of four. The numbers back up the reputation.

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    I find Pronger’s numbers here pretty interesting, from the perspective of comparing him with Phaneuf. Obviously, Pronger’s a better hockey player. The first two years there are Anaheim, the second two years are Philadelphia. I find it very interesting that Pronger’s numbers relative to his team took a big jump when he moved to Philadelphia. As I’ve said a few times, I’m very suspicious that Carlyle is asking his teams to do things that don’t produce good results.

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    Great trade for the Oilers.

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    Maybe Pittsburgh’s problem isn’t so much moral and character failings on the part of Crosby and Malkin as it is defencemen who are boat anchors.

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    Whither thou goest, I will go. You can’t fault Seabrook for being on a good team but it doesn’t really seem like he’s doing much to push the river. Again, as better data comes online, we’ll be able to do a better job of pulling apart the effects that players have on their teams versus that which teams have on their players.

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    Hard to believe that Buffalo moved him for a second round pick and Jamie McBain. Not hard to believe that Buffalo got worse after that happened. I’d be interested to know what Darcy Regier’s rationale for the deal was.

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    Another guy from St. Louis with a nice stat line, particularly because he didn’t play with Pietrangelo very much this year. That undoubtedly provides him with a bit of shelter but he still did something with it.

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    Year Four of pushing the river in Montreal.

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    I had to put these guys together, for obvious reasons. They’re somewhat polarizing guys in the analytics community because neither has made possession better for the past two years. There are tons of justifications offered for this but if they’re really stars, shouldn’t they be able to have a visibly positive impact on the game at 5v5 even if they’re not paired with stars?

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    Another potential issue for Philadelphia next year – there’s talk that Timonen might retire and the Flyers might have trouble fitting him into their budget anyway. He’s been a big possession driver for them the past few years and I’m not sure that they can really afford to lose that, given that there’s not a lot available in the market.

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    Lubo’s been dinged up the past few years but he has a fine track record of being better than the various bad teams on which he’s played.

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    Vlasic’s kind of funny because he seems like he’s been around forever after making the league as a 19 year old. It’s interesting to see how his numbers have improved over time – he’s gotten better every year for six years. At just 26 years old, you’d think he’s set up for a long run as one of the elite defencemen in the NHL. He’s on a phenomenal deal for San Jose as well – four more years at $4.25MM per.

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    It’s not a dream – Yandle’s done really well over the past few years.

    I don’t think that this stuff is the only way to evaluate defencemen. Nevertheless, if you’re going to evaluate defencemen with data, it does seem like the right place to start to me. From that point forward, you’ve got to take into account quality of competition, zone starts, who they play with and how they impact special teams.

    It is interesting to me that, even without those things taken into account, most of the guys you’d think are star defencemen look like star defencemen. That makes me a lot more comfortable wondering about guys like Suter, Weber and Bouwmeester; if they’re so good, why can’t they outperform their teams without significant help?

    Email Tyler Dellow at tyler@mc79hockey.com


    11 Responses to CorsiRel and Famous Defencemen II

    1. May 30, 2014 at

      It’s been fascinating for me to see how Weber’s possession decline post-Suter has gone completely unnoticed by the Nashville media (both professional and bloggers). A fearsome slapper and prodigious beard can sway a lot of hearts.

    2. Bill
      May 30, 2014 at

      Great job as always Tyler. Just a suggestion though, you should (typically) always label your graphs. But again, nice read like usual.

    3. Bank Shot
      May 30, 2014 at

      How much more predictive is relCOrsi than just going off the boxcars?

      If I just take a sample of the top 20 defencemen in scoring I would say the vast majority are bound to have high relCORSI’s.

      There are going to be exceptions like Jack Johnson, but there will be RELcorsi exceptions as well in the famous D man list. Pronger’s graph won’t look as good as Erhoff’s for example. Ryan Suter will not look great since he joined the Wild.

      Guys like Hjalmarsson and Mitchell will never look good by RelCorsi but they are still good players.

      Brian Campbell has been given the best available zone starts on his team every single year with the exception of 2013-2014.

      If you believe zone starts matter than you have to find a way to adjust RELcorsi to level the playing field or you don’t have a stat that is the most meaningful metric IMO.

      Top ten in 2013/14 in boxcars:


      Top ten in RELCorsi(playing more then 15 ES min per night):

      Boxcars is more predictive of being a good defenseman if you just take it at face value in this instance as the first group is clearly stronger.

      If you start taking zone starts, quality of comp/teammates into account, then you start getting more and more subjective as there is no single standard to weigh these factors.

      Although Pronger’s last season in Philly was only 13 games, his, Phaneuf, Suter, and Weber’s graphs pretty much prove the point don’t they?

      Looks like different teams/tactics/coaches/linemates/situations can have a bigger effect on relcorsi then ability.

      Players like Erhoff and Visnovsky always come out looking golden because they would never be used in a shutdown role. Non-offensive defense men don’t fare well in RELcorsi.

      Don’t things like that line up just a little too well to ignore?

    4. Benjamin
      May 30, 2014 at

      Really enjoyed the article(s) Tyler., In my recent foray into shot differentials and ‘advanced stats’ I’m thoroughly convinced that good possession players, with consequently high Corsi and Fenwick values, are king for ES (and PP) situations.

      My question is about defencemen and the PK: do effective PKs not still include positionally sound, shot blocking defencemen who may be lacking in puck possession skills? My working hypothesis is that lack of possession on the PK is a foregone conclusion, so restricting shots getting through to the goalie and taking away passing lanes is paramount. Based on this assumption I’ve conceived an ideal top 6 filled with 4-5 possession defencemen taking the heavy load in ES and PP situations and 1-2 of the more traditionally conceived, shot blocking defencemen to take the heavy load in PK situations.

      Has anyone taken a good look into PK numbers and, if so, could someone point me in the right direction? I’d love to read up on it.

      • Owain
        May 31, 2014 at

        I may be very wrong here (or out of date) but I’m pretty sure I saw some work a while back that showed PK success/failure was based largely on the goalie – if he’s awesome you don’t concede many, if he’s not….
        Coaching system also has a pretty big impact on PK too. There was some work earlier in the season on the Leafs PK showing how after last season’s successes (in tandem with Reimer being amazing) that just about everyone in the NHL had figured out how to play against Carlyle’s system and break it down. Hence, Jay McClement is no longer thought of as the god of PK.
        Sorry for going off-topic a little but thought I’d add that.

        If anyone has those links (or others showing differing work) I’d be happy to see them.

        Great work as ever Tyler, thanks.

        • Benjamin
          May 31, 2014 at

          I’m totally on board with the coaching system playing an integral role in PK success but my understanding is that PK save % for goalies is highly volatile, no?

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    7. Stephan Cooper
      June 2, 2014 at

      The hilarious thing about Subban is that it seems he got a completely deserved Norris trophy (His Corsi was terrific that year and his Fenwick% and Shot% went beyond that) for the wrong reasons.

      • Richard
        June 3, 2014 at

        It’s not that he got the Norris for the wrong reasons, as much as the fact that sometimes the stats line up with the ‘eye test’…. and perhaps by driving possession, his team was more successful at putting points on the board.

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