I happened across this as I was reading the internet:
As he displayed a video during his talk on defensive zone play during the Roger Neilson coaching clinic Friday at the University of Windsor, Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau inadvertently alluded to analytics.
“Here’s why we never do well in those Corsi stats,” Boudreau said. “We give up possession, but we don’t allow the shot to get through.”
This is a subject that’s of some interest to me and one that’s come up a couple of times over the course of the winter. For those who don’t follow such things, Anaheim completed their second season in a row in which their SF% was notably better than their Corsi%. In 2012-13, they had a 48% Corsi% while taking 50.2% of the shots. In 2013-14, they had a 49.8% Corsi%, while taking 51.4% of the shots.
As I’ve said a few times around here, I have a lot of time for Boudreau and think that he’s an excellent coach. His assertion holds up – to a degree. I’ve put the relevant data in the table at left.
What this table shows is the breakdown of shot attempts for/against into shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots for the NHL as a whole in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and then for the Ducks. Obviously, the breakdown is the same each way at the NHL level – one team’s blocked shot for is another team’s blocked shot against (the question of whether a blocked shot for means you’re blocking a shot or having your shot blocked is, blessedly, avoided).
If you look at 2012-13, there’s no doubt that Boudreau’s assertion holds up. The Ducks were almost five points better than the NHL as a whole in terms of forcing the opposition into shot attempts that either go wide or were blocked. Offensively, they were pretty much bang on with the NHL norms.
They lost a lot of that this year though – their edge is almost cut in half. This is where Boudreau loses me a little bit. The advantage created by the Ducks this year was about 1/3 on the offensive side of things, 2/3 on the defensive side of things. Whatever it is the Ducks do defensively to drive down the opposition’s efficiency at turning shot attempts into shots on goal, it became a lot less effective this year.
I’m also a bit skeptical in the bigger picture. Sacrificing possession on the theory that you’ll make up for it in terms of turning shot attempts against into missed or blocked shots is a bit misleading – some of those shots will make it through. Some of those will become goals. Some will result in defensive zone faceoffs. There is, in other words, a knock-on effect, even if you’re turning a higher percentage of them into missed and blocked shots.
In a few years from now, when SportVu data is available, we’ll be able to dig into claims like this much more, understanding where the missed/blocked shots are coming from and where possession is sacrificed for that. For the time being, it’s just something worth flagging and paying attention to next season. I’m not entirely convinced that it will persist and, as I said, I’m skeptical that it’s in their best interest in the bigger picture.Email Tyler Dellow at email@example.com