Ranking the possession stats of all 30 teams, from most to least improved

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To mark the debut of “enhanced stats” (also known as “advanced stats”) on NHL.com, we compared the shot-attempt percentages with the score close (also known as Corsi close) of each team, this season to last season, to see if it can tell us anything.

Here’s the list of all 30 teams, from most improved to least:

% diff
1 Edmonton Oilers 4.2
2 New York Islanders 3.9
3 Nashville Predators 3.7
4 Pittsburgh Penguins 3.5
5 Toronto Maple Leafs 3.1
6 Washington Capitals 3.0
7 Minnesota Wild 2.8
8 Montréal Canadiens 2.7
9 Winnipeg Jets 2.7
10 Tampa Bay Lightning 2.5
11 Detroit Red Wings 2.4
12 Carolina Hurricanes 1.1
13 Anaheim Ducks 0.8
14 Dallas Stars 0.2
15 Florida Panthers 0.0
16 Philadelphia Flyers -0.5
17 Chicago Blackhawks -1.5
18 St. Louis Blues -1.5
19 Calgary Flames -1.5
20 Vancouver Canucks -1.6
21 Boston Bruins -1.6
22 Arizona Coyotes -1.6
23 Los Angeles Kings -2.2
24 Ottawa Senators -2.3
25 New York Rangers -2.3
26 San Jose Sharks -2.4
27 Colorado Avalanche -2.5
28 Columbus Blue Jackets -3.6
29 Buffalo Sabres -5.9
30 New Jersey Devils -7.2

Notes:

— Skeptics of using shots attempts to track possession will immediately point to Edmonton being at the top of this list. If the Oilers are so “improved,” why are they still such a bad team? It’s a good question, and it’s why you should never rely on one statistic as a be-all, end-all for anything. You always have to drill deeper. Oh, and yes, you still have to watch the games. The Oilers, for example, have had the worst goaltending in the NHL, even worse than it was last season. Their special teams have also been worse, and their defensive coverage continues to be abysmal at times. Oh, and let’s not forget, despite the “improvement” in possession, they remain among the worst possession teams in the league.

— The same goes for Toronto at No. 5. The Maple Leafs may have improved in shot-attempt differential, but it’s still a major problem for them. Especially with the relatively poor goaltending they’ve received compared to last season.

— The New York Islanders at No. 2 says something, no? And Nashville at No. 3? And Washington at No. 6? Three teams that missed the playoffs last season. They’re not missing them this season.

— Moving to the bottom of the list, what about San Jose, in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003, at No. 26? And New Jersey — not even close to making the playoffs this season, despite the excellent goaltending of Cory Schneider — at No. 30? That has to say something.

— As for the New York Rangers at No. 25, absolutely that could be a red flag. This is a team that’s relied on the third highest even-strength shooting percentage in the NHL (9.8, compared to just 6.9 last season). Is that sustainable over the long run? History says no.