Jim Corsi: The man behind Corsi numbers

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The hockey world is ages behind “Moneyball” philosophy and Sabermetrics, just to name a few buzzwords associated with the innovative stats championed by baseball writers and stats gurus for years. That isn’t to say that hockey bloggers/writers/fans/front office people are completely turning a blind eye to analysis that goes deeper than goals, assists and plus/minuses, though.

One of the most well-known “new” stats is the Corsi Number, named after Buffalo Sabres goalie coach Jim Corsi (he’s the guy in that photo who’s either short … or maybe standing next to Tyler Myers). To explain the stat (a bit too) simply: it’s basically an alternative to plus/minus in which shots replace goals. Here’s a more detailed description from David Staples’ great story about Corsi (the man and the stat).

Corsi is a plus/minus stat that measures shots directed at net. For example, if the Edmonton Oilers direct 30 shots at even strength at the Calgary Flames’ net in a game, while the Flames direct 45 shots at the Oilers’ net, the Oilers have a Corsi of -15 for the game. People who put a lot of faith in Corsi plus/minus numbers argue that you even if a team loses a stretch of games, but if that team has a strong Corsi plus/minus in each game, it’s an indication that the team really isn’t so bad, that it’s moving the puck to the right end of the ice, that it has territorial dominance, and that the goals will soon come.

This team Corsi number is also broken down and applied to individual players. For example, if Sheldon Souray is out on the ice for 10 shots directed at the Flames’ net, while the Flames direct 15 shots at the Oilers’ net while Souray is on the ice, he’s said to have a Corsi plus/minus of -5.

It’s a fascinating story that is definitely worth the read. I’ll leave you with the stat’s origin story, from Corsi himself.

The traditional way of measuring a goalie’s work load was to look at the number of shots against the goalie faced in a game. But having played goalie himself, Corsi didn’t trust that basic indicator so much. “When I played, I’d finish a game with about 25 shots on goal and I was really tired. I was really very, very tired,” he says.

“When you look at 20 or 25 shots, you say, Well, it’s a light game.’ But if you look at a game, an (attacker) comes down the right side, he’s got the puck, and he turns up the boards, towards the wall, the goalie is not standing on his heels going, ‘Oh, you know, whatever.’ He’s going to bear down, tense up, prepare that this is going to end up as a shot. Now as (the attacker) turns, he (the goalie) has still got to be engaged and wait for the next play.

“You get a 25-shot game, but with all the blocked shots and the increase in blocked shots and the tightness of the defensive zone coverage, the activity of the goalie could almost be like 75 to 100 actions at the net.”

To get a better sense of how much work his goalies faced, Corsi started to use the NHL’s data that tracks missed shots, blocked shots and shots on goal. He added all these together to come up with a goalie’s so-called Corsi number for a night of work. “It’s really just a number that I’ve used for goaltenders to hone in on their fitness and how much activity is actually going on with respect to goaltending.”

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    Stanley Cup Final odds: Penguins open as favorites over Predators

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    The 2017 Stanley Cup Final is set with the Pittsburgh Penguins, continuing their quest to repeat as champions, facing the Nashville Predators.

    Both teams come in missing some key players (Kris Letang, Pittsburgh; Ryan Johansen, Nashville) but both still have plenty of star player with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg and the rest of Nashville’s defense headlining the series.

    According to the folks at Bovada, the Penguins open the series as favorites to win it over the Predators.

    NHL Stanley Cup Finals Series Price
    Nashville Predators +135 (27/20)
    Pittsburgh Penguins -155 (20/31)

    The series begins on Monday night in Pittsburgh.

    Related

    2017 Stanley Cup Final Schedule: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators

    Canucks sign free agent defenseman Philip Holm to one-year deal

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    The Vancouver Canucks announced on Friday that they have signed free agent defenseman Philip Holm to a one-year, entry-level contract.

    Before signing with the Canucks Holm had been rumored to be on the verge of joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that obviously did not come together.

    “Philip is a mobile, two-way defenseman who adds depth to our blue line,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning in a statement released by the team. “He made strides in his development last season with Vaxjo and played a strong series with Sweden at the World Championships We’re pleased to welcome him to the Canucks organization.”

    The 25-year-old Holm has spent the past seven seasons playing professionally in Sweden for Vaxjo HC and Djurgardens IF.

    He is regarded as a smooth skating, puck-moving defenseman and had a pretty strong season for Vaxjo this past year, scoring four goals and adding 17 assists in 52 games. He was the top-scoring defenseman on the team.

    He also had three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games for Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championships. Sweden won the Gold Medal at the tournament by defeating Canada in the championship game.

    The Canucks already have six defensemen under contract for 2017-18 (and they do not seem to be in a hurry to trade any of them) but it was a unit that clearly needs an upgrade, so Holm should be an opportunity to make an impact next season.

    Sabres fire AHL coach Dan Lambert

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    The Buffalo Sabres continued to overhaul their organization under new general manager Jason Botterill on Friday when they announced that Dan Lambert, the coach of the Rochester Americans, their AHL affiliate, has been relieved of his duties.

    “I would like to thank Dan for his hard work and contributions to our organization during the last two seasons and I wish him the best in the future,” said Botterill in a statement released by the team.

    “I felt this was the right move for both the Sabres and Amerks and we will begin the process of searching for a new head coach immediately.”

    The 2016-17 season was Lambert’s only season as the head coach. The team ended up finishing with a 32-41-3 mark.

    When he was hired by the Sabres Botterill talked about wanting to improve the team in Rochester and this appears to be the first step in that process. The entire Sabres organization took a pretty significant step backwards this season with the NHL team finishing with a worse record than it did a year ago. That resulted in general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma all being replaced.

    The Sabres have yet to hire a replacement for Bylsma.

    Now both of the top teams in the organization are in need of a new head coach.

    Report: KHL team in talks with Capitals’ Orlov

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    After losing in the second-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs again and entering an offseason where they have several free agents, it is expected that the Washington Capitals roster is going to be look very, very different next season.

    One of those upcoming free agents already seems to be drawing some interest, and not from an NHL team.

    According to a report from Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko, the KHL’s CSKA Moscow is in talks with defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

    Orlov, who turns 26 in July, is slated to be a restricted free agent this offseason. He has played in every game for the Capitals the past two seasons and has emerged as a solid defenseman on the team’s blue line. He has posted pretty dominant possession numbers the past two seasons and has tallied 29 and 33 points during that stretch. He played nearly 20 minutes per game for the Capitals this season and should be in line for a pretty significant pay raise.

    Along with the Orlov news, the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan mentioned on Twitter that another KHL team may also be in talks with restricted free agent Evgeny Kuznetsov, though she downplayed the possibility of him leaving. Given that Kuznetsov is one of the top offensive players in the league that would certainly be a shocking move, but it still seems like a long-shot to think that he would leave the NHL.