Capitals Balanced Corsi Numbers

I’m sure many of you are familiar with what corsi numbers are but if you aren’t here’s a brief summary; It works in the same way that the plus/minus system does only it uses shots instead of goals. For instance, if John Carlson is on the ice while 14 shots directed at the opponent’s net and 12 were directed at his own, he would have a corsi rating of 2. However, one problem with corsi rating is that it doesn’t bring context into the system. Players who take a lot of defensive zone draws are going to have low corsi ratings because well, they spend a lot of time in their own zone. Manny Malholtra having 75% of his starts coming in the defensive zone being a good example of this. This is where balanced corsi is nice.

Look at Malholtra’s corsi rating compared to other players with similar zone starts.

NAME Year TEAM Corsi OZ%
MANNYMALHOTRA 2011 VAN -9.5 25
NICKSCHULTZ 2009 MIN -14.44 26.5
BLAIRBETTS 2011 PHI -18.19 26.9
NATETHOMPSON 2010 T.B -21.39 27.8
STEPHANEVEILLEUX 2009 MIN -10.33 29
ZENONKONOPKA 2010 T.B -10.64 29
RAFFITORRES 2011 VAN -3.67 29.4
ZENONKONOPKA 2011 NYI -27.31 29.8
KURTSAUER 2009 PHX -18.84 30
RYANJOHNSON 2009 VAN -21.4 30.1

You’ll see that Malhotra has a higher corsi rating than other players who take a lot of starts in their own zone. The people at Broad Street Hockey looked at this for the Flyers and provided data for every player who has played 3/4 of their games in the last four seasons. What they did to figure out the balanced corsi numbers was compare the average corsi numbers of the nearest 100 players and figure out an “expected corsi rating” out of it. They would then compare it with their actual corsi rating to get a balanced number. Malhotra’s balanced corsi rating ended up being around 1.65. They also looked at relative corsi ratings to show how much a player improved his team when he was on the ice, which works if the player is on a mediocre/bad team. Basically it takes his corsi on ice and the team’s corsi while he’s off the ice and gives him credit for the difference.

More to the point, Broad Street Hockey was nice enough to provide everyone with all of the balanced and relative corsi numbers for every player so I decided to look at them for the Caps this year and through the years. This blog was made a few weeks ago so I did some updating for our corsi numbers this season.

Here’s the balanced and balanced relative corsi numbers for the players currently on the team who have played in at least half of their games this season.

NAME OZ% Balanced Corsi Balanced Corsi Rel
Nicklas Backstrom 50.5 10.03 10.69
Alexander Ovechkin
50.8 8.41 9.67
Alexander Semin
55 7.15 8.61
Brooks Laich
53.8 3.27 2.92
Jason Arnott
54.2 3.13 1.65
Boyd Gordon
43 0.66 -5.19
Matt Hendricks
51.9 -1.08 -3.98
Mike Knuble
54.2 -1.65 -2.47
Jason Chimera 51.4 -3.98 -6.84
Matt Bradley
50 -4.12 -10.87
Marcus Johansson
59.2 -13.36 -14.93
John Carlson 50.1 6.07 4.92
Mike Green 52 5.98 6.70
Karl Alzner 49.4 3.88 1.29
Scott Hannan 48.4 2.41 0.26
Dennis Wideman 51.7 0.13 1.78
John Erskine 52.1 -2.31 -6.77
Jeff Schultz 49.8 -2.58 -6.87

The impressions I made from looking at/studying the table:

  • For forwards, the three at the top aren’t surprising in the least bit. Especially considering that they’ve been paired together a lot of times this season.
  • I honestly don’t know why Johansson’s corsi ratings are always so low. Whenever I watch him play, I’m usually impressed but the numbers indicate that he’s struggling with puck possession despite getting a lot of offensive zone starts. I do remember him having a slow start at the beginning of the season so that might have something to do with it. Along with his problems at the face-off circle. 40.5% on the year.
  • This only strengthens my opinion on Alzner/Carlson.
  • It’s strange to see Schultz sitting at the bottom while Green and Hannan have positive ratings considering he plays with those two the most. Maybe it’s just a down year for Schultz and an assessment to Green and Hannan’s abilities? You got me. Speaking of Hannan, he’s taking a lot of defensive zone draws and doing a damn good job at preventing chances this year.
  • A little surprised that Wideman’s relative corsi rating is kind of low despite spending most of the year on an awful Florida team.
  • The way Boyd Gordon has played has definitely made losing Steckel not much of a blow at all. Gordon’s done a great job at face-offs this year, too.
  • Strong defense has been a huge key to the team’s success since the numbers indicate that the forwards are struggling.
  • Let’s see how these numbers compare with how they’ve performed the last four seasons. I’ve also included a few more players who were hurt or didn’t see a lot of playing time this year:

NAME Average of Balanced Corsi NAME Average of Balanced Corsi Rel
Alexander Ovechkin 11.93 Alexander Ovechkin 10.64
Nicklas Backstrom 9.90 Nicklas Backstrom 7.89
Tom Poti 9.68 Marco Sturm 6.18
Eric Fehr 9.16 Mike Green 5.70
Mike Green 8.25 John Carlson 4.92
Marco Sturm 7.57 Jason Arnott 2.78
Alex Semin 7.13 Alex Semin 2.60
David Steckel 6.95 Mike Knuble 2.32
John Carlson 6.07 Eric Fehr 2.06
Boyd Gordon 4.45 Dennis Wideman 2.05
Karl Alzner 3.88 Karl Alzner 1.29
Dennis Wideman 2.92 Tom Poti -0.95
Jason Arnott 2.71 Scott Hannan -3.18
Brooks Laich 2.59 Jason Chimera -4.33
Matt Bradley 2.42 David Steckel -4.53
Jeff Schultz 1.69 Brooks Laich -4.60
Mike Knuble 0.77 Jeff Schultz -6.50
Jason Chimera 0.70 Matt Bradley -7.38
John Erskine 0.18 Boyd Gordon -8.01
Tyler Sloan -2.91 Matt Hendricks -8.68
Scott Hannan -3.99 Tyler Sloan -9.48
Matt Hendricks -5.02 John Erskine -10.81
Marcus Johansson -13.36 Marcus Johansson -14.93

Note: I don’t know why Steckel got thrown in…must have added him accidentally.

  • Tom Poti as the top defenseman sticks out like a sore thumb to me, especially since we’re averaging the four seasons. He does take a lot of defensive zone starts and his corsi rating’s been strong as a result. This is also when he was saddled with Jurcina and Erskine as defensive partners for most of last year. I didn’t look at former Capitals with this but I would definitely like to see what Shoane Morrisonn’s numbers were in 08-09 when he was playing with Poti. Also interesting is that he has a negative rating with relative corsi, showing that he doesn’t elevate the team’s play much when he’s on the ice.  I think the problem here is that I looked at only even strength data and not penalty kill numbers.
  • Notice how many more forwards are in the positive category? A lot more compared to this year. The Caps forwards are usually the ones leading to their success but it’s defense that’s doing that this year. Also, you’ll see that a couple players (Knuble, Bradley) are having relatively down years compared to past seasons. Although, Knuble has picked it up as of late.
  • When healthy, Eric Fehr and Marco Sturm have helped their team’s a lot in terms of possession.
  • Seeing Boyd Gordon’s numbers compared to Steckel’s makes me wonder why we gave the latter $1.1 mil a year even more. Maybe it’s because Gordon was hurt for most of 09-10.
  • The one determined thing with this stat is that a player who is near the top in both balanced and balanced relative corsi is outperforming his peers by a mile. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see Ovechkin and Backstrom at the top. You could probably say the same thing about Green given he takes a lot of offensive zone draws and makes the most of them.
  • Scott Hannan’s been very good this season compared to his last few with the Avalanche.

What can we say about all of this? First off, I will say that it isn’t the “new defining stat” but it’s an interesting way to look at how a certain player performs and how much he helps the team. It also provides context in terms zone starts, which I think is very helpful. There’s a few things that I think are debatable, though. If you want to look at the raw data, head on over to Broad Street Hockey and check out the post that I linked earlier. I had to update some of the data to figure out this year’s numbers but that is fairly easy to do.

Special thanks to Behind The Net and Broad Street Hockey for the data and idea for the post!

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