What Advanced Statistics Mean and Why They Matter to the Toronto Maple Leafs
We’re only a few games into the season and by now you’re probably sick of hearing about analytics! While terms like Corsi, Zone Starts, and many other advanced statistic have been drilled through your head during the first week of the season, it is important to know what these advanced stats actually mean.
While Corsi is all the craze among the hockey pundits, there are many more advanced statistics that you can utilize as performance determinants when analyzing the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With that being said, here is a look at a few terms you should know the meaning of, and why they matter to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Oct 18, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs defensemanMorgan Rielly
(44) checks Detroit Red Wings centerJoakim Andersson
(18) off the puck in the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won 1-0 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The beloved Corsi. Well, when you see Corsi, think puck possession. Corsi essentially measures all shot attempts for either a team or a specific player when he is on the ice. The problem with Corsi is that it measures shot attempts, regardless of whether it is blocked or even makes it to the net. Therefore, it does not give you a definitive measure of sheer possession, but instead tells you a story of generally how much time either teams spends in or out of the atacking zone. Although Corsi does possess some flaws, it is arguably the best advanced statistic at measuring both a team and players overall puck possession game.
Corsi is usually measured in percentages that would read as Corsi For % (CF %) for example. Generally, a strong Corsi team ranks somewhere near the 60% threshold, where as a weak Corsi team hovers near 40%.
Why Corsi matters for the Toronto Maple Leafs
While many of you are probably sick of hearing it, Corsi is a very good indicator of puck possession and territorial advantages (what zone the game is being played in) when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs. When you take those two indicators into consideration, Corsi not only tends to reveal who wins the puck possession game, but also who tends to create the most scoring chances – something the Leafs have struggled mightily in.
Ultimately for the Leafs, Corsi is a useful metric that can help the team monitor every line that isn’t the Kessel/Bozak/van Riemsdyk line, since that line continues to produce points regardless of what the metrics may indicate.
Much like Corsi, Fenwick measures scoring chances. But instead of taking blocked shots into account, Fewnick only measures shot attempts that are unblocked towards the net. Now, while not every shot towards the net equates to a scoring chance, it does tend to tell a story of which team is generating more scoring chances overall.
Exactly like Corsi, Fenwick is measured in percentages that would read as Fenwick For % (FF %) for example. A strong Fenwick team ranks near 60%, while a weak Fenwick team ranks near 40% – exactly like Corsi.
Why Fenwick matters for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Hate to sound like a broken record, but much like Corsi, Fenwick is a good measurement of the amount of scoring chances going both for and against the Leafs. Although many debate which metric is better for measuring on ice success (read more about Corsi vs. Fenwick here), Fenwick tends to strongly correlate with goal ratio over a large sample size. In other words, the more shots the Leafs can get to the net, the more scoring chances the Leafs will have.
Editor In Leaf
Zone Starts is a very easy statistic that simply measures the percentage of faceoffs a team takes in each zone.
Like Corsi and Fenwick, Zone Starts is a statistic that measures puck possession and territorial advantages. The idea behind Zone Starts is based off the assumption that if a team is controlling the flow of play, the majority of the stoppages/faceoffs will happen in the offensive zone. Thus indicating that the team with more offensive zone starts, is generally more inclined to be in control of the game and the scoring chances coinciding with it.
Why Zone Starts matter for the Toronto Maple Leafs
For the Maple Leafs, Zone Starts can be a disaster at times, as the Leafs tend to take far more defensive zone faceoffs, than they do offensive zone ones. Much like Corsi and Fenwick, Zone Starts shows the Leafs struggles to keep the game out of their own end of the ice.
Regardless of how good a team is in the circle, defensive zone faceoffs are never good. It not only gives your opponent a shortened ice to work with, but it also makes teams more susceptible to goals, as well as creating more difficult breakouts.
Oct 18, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Joffrey Lupul (19) takes a shot in the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
According to PDO’s creator Vic Ferrari, PDO measures the sum of a team or players even strength shooting percentage and even strength save percentage. In short, PDO measures how fortunate teams and players are based off of how many even strength shots are both scored and saved.
While the most talented player usually prevails in terms of producing long-term numbers, sometimes a player might get a few more fortunate bounces than the other guy would. Over a long period of time, PDO helps give a prediction of whether or not a player can sustain the offensive or defensive pace they are on.
When using PDO to measure individual players, some common sense must be applied as well. Of course a player like Matt Cooke will not have the same intangibles as let’s say, Sidney Crosby. Even if Cooke had a PDO that rivalled that of Sid the Kid’s, it does not mean that Cooke’s numbers are sustainable long-term. Context and common sense matter greatly when measuring a players PDO.
Much like measuring players, PDO also has a flaw when measuring teams as well because PDO assumes that every shot is measured with equal value and quality. When in reality, we all know that is not the case. Again, be careful how you use PDO to assess both players and teams.
Why PDO matters for the Toronto Maple Leafs
When it comes to the Maple Leafs, PDO is great for showing how lucky, or unlucky, the Leafs shooting percentage is. If the Leafs are below the mean PDO of 1.000, you can make a case that the team is unlucky with their shooting percentage. If the team is over the mean PDO of 1.000, you can argue that some regression will take place going forward.
Currently the majority of Leafs players sit below the mean PDO of 1.000. Noteworthy examples are Phil Kessel (857), Joffrey Lupul (863) and Nazem Kadri (883). Given the context of PDO, it would not be unfair to assume that a player like Phil Kessel will slowly progress closer to the mean PDO of 1.000, meaning that more goals should come for Phil the Thrill soon.
Overall, advanced statistics are not the end-all be-all of the hockey world. However, advanced statistics for the most part show things that hockey players and the media have talked about very often over the years. Puck possession, bounces, usage and shooting success are all things that have been around forever. Just now they have numbers to analyze and compare them too.
So while fancy names like Corsi, Fenwick and PDO may seem intimidating to some, they are really just things you have been discussing throughout your entire hockey-watching life. Except now, you can actually measure them statistically. While there are many more advanced statistics to discuss, above was a quick run down of the more commonly used terms you have probably heard during the beginning of this season.
What do you think Leaf fans? Are advanced statistics as big of a deal as we all say they are with the Maple Leafs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.