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Title - Rob McPhee
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The Leafs and Corsi - From Lupul to Kessel
By Rob McPhee
HometownHockey.ca

The Leafs and Corsi - From Lupul to Kessel
Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul is amongst the team's leaders in Corsi along with line mate's Nazem Kadri and Daniel Winnik.

Toronto - October 17, 2014 - On Wednesday it was announced that the Toronto Maple Leafs had partnered with data company SAS Analytics’ to help build a large database of information that Leafs’ coaches and management could use. With the Leafs seemingly diving head first into analytics this offseason by hiring Assistant GM Kyle Dubas and forming their own analytics department, a lot of fans are being left to play catch up on advanced stats like Corsi. So with that in mind here is a brief recap of what Corsi is, how the Leafs performed last year in terms of Corsi and what they have done in the first 4 games of the 2014/2015 season.

Corsi is the measurement of anytime a team directs the puck at the opposing team’s net. Goals, saved shots, blocked shots, missed shots all count. The higher a team, or player’s Corsi stat, the more pucks are being directed at their opponent’s net. It sounds far more complicated than it is.

In the 2013/2014 season, the best Corsi team in the NHL were the San Jose Sharks having a team Corsi percentage of 53.53%. This means that last season in Sharks games, on average 53.5% of all shooting events were at the other team’s net. For comparison’s sake, Toronto had a team Corsi of 42.23% which was the worst in the NHL. For those who are still skeptical of the validity of this stat here is one final note: of the top 10 Corsi teams last year, 7 made the playoffs and of the bottom 10 Corsi team’s last year, only 3 made the playoffs. Corsi is here to stay, so lets dive in and examine the Leafs best and worst Corsi players.

For this part you will need to understand one more stat and that is Corsi Relative Percentage. You’re still dealing with Corsi, only now it measures how the team’s Corsi changes when a specific player is on the ice. In this stat defenceman Jake Gardiner was the best last year. Gardiner’s Corsi% was 50.42, keeping in mind that the team’s overall Corsi% was 42.43%, this means Gardiner’s Corsi Relative Percentage is 8.52%. Simply put, when Gardiner is on the ice, the Leafs, on average increase their amount of shots directed at the opponent's net by 8.52%. This is also a large reason why students of hockey analytics are calling for Gardiner to get back on the ice instead of being a healthy scratch as he has been the last 2 games of this season.

Following Gardiner in terms of Corsi success last year were: Phil Kessel - 6.81%, James van Riemsdyk - 6.77%, Cody Franson - 6.61% and Nazem Kadri - 6.59%. Not much of a surprise that your best offensive players are your Corsi leaders. This year, however, has started a little differently. After 4 games the Leafs top 5 Corsi players are as follows. Daniel Winnik - 19.51%, Joffrey Lupul - 18.96%, Nazem Kadri - 17.63%, Dion Phaneuf - 5.51% and David Clarkson - 4.61%

Now before reading those numbers, many Leaf fans would agree that the second line of Lupul/Kadri/Winnik has looked the best on the ice. However, once you see these numbers it becomes clear just how good they have been. All 3 are in the top 20 for Corsi Relative in the NHL currently, and 12% better than their next best teammate. What will be interesting to see is how these numbers change over the course of the season. I would be remiss if I did not mention the massive improvement David Clarkson has made on his 0.23% stat he finished with last season. Hopefully, the third line of Clarkson/Santorelli/Komarov can continue to perform with energy and Clarkson’s numbers continue to improve.

The Leafs that need the most improvement in regards to their Corsi numbers should come as no surprise. Phil Kessel currently has a Corsi Relative Percentage of -14.09% while linemates James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak are sitting at -8.80% and -9.33%. If the Leafs are going to have success this year, their best line needs to play like their best line. Leaf fans should keep an eye on how the top trio’s Corsi stats change as the season progress, as I suspect there will be an obvious correlation between their numbers and the team’s overall success.

At this point in the season the Leafs Corsi stats essentially confirm what we have been seeing on the ice. The second line is playing the best hockey consistently out of the entire team, and David Clarkson looks better than last year. Phaneuf’s numbers have also improved, however with all the shuffling that will surely be done on the blue line over the next few weeks, I expect Dion’s numbers to change. And finally the top line is not performing with any consistency and continues to be a defensive liability. As the season progresses I will continue these dissections of the Leaf’s advanced stat, so stay tuned.

Rob McPhee @RobMcPhee on Twitter

All stats provided by http://war-on-ice.com

Follow Me on TwitterRob was born in Toronto's East end and has been a Maple Leaf fan his entire life. He is currently a student at York University in Toronto and is studying writing. He has always loved the blues and sports of all kind. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at rmcphee@hometownhockey.ca


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