Which Sens Forwards Are Best at Driving Possession During The Playoffs

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

By SensForLife11


Thanks to Behind The Net and Stats.HockeyAnalysis, two advanced statistics websites, we can now take a closer look at players' performances game to game without using traditional stats. One of the most commonly used advanced stats is Corsi, which you can essentially call shot differential +/-. It takes into account any shots (including missed and blocked) directed towards the net. I've compiled the CF% of the Senators forwards for each game in the playoffs thus far and placed them in a chart. To keep things clean I've divided them into two groups consisting of the top 6 and bottom 6 forwards.
CF% is simply Corsi For Percentage. That is, it represents the % of shots that are directed towards the opposition net (remember this includes missed and blocked shots) while a player is on the ice. Therefore, if a player has a CF% of 50.0%, then while he is on the ice, the opposition is directing the exact same amount of shots towards his net as his team is to the opposition. Theoretically this is a good way of measuring puck possession, because if you're directing a higher percentage of shots towards the opposition net you're likely controlling play and thus possession. So, if a player is above the 50.0% mark he is probably doing a good job of driving possession against the opposition. 
Click to zoom

Click to zoom
Some quick observations you can notice right away:

  • Daniel Alfredsson took it to the Montreal Canadiens, never dipping below 50.0% against them
  • Cory Conacher has struggled when it comes to possession and helps explain why he has found himself stapled to the bench by Paul MacLean at times
  • The young Swedes, Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad have been doing a fairly good job of driving possession during the Pittsburgh series so far
  • Colin Greening has been an absolute beast lately, hovering around the 60% during the last five games. 
  • Erik Condra has passed the 70% mark twice, which means that's two games in which he absolutely shut down the opposition. 

Of course, when using Corsi there are other advanced stats you have to take into account. One major stat is Corsi QoC (quality of competition). This measures the average Corsi of the opposing players weighted by head-to-head ice time. In other words, the larger the Corsi QoC a player faces, the more difficult his opposition is. Below is a screenshot of all the Senators' Corsi QoC during the playoffs so far. Jason Spezza has the weakest competition which is expected as Paul MacLean sheltered him against strong competition in his first game back. However, it is very interesting to note that Colin Greening has the strongest competition, yet his CF% doesn't seem to indicate that. It just shows you how well Greening has been playing in the playoffs.

One last thing that I won't get into too much detail, but is definitely worth mentioning is WOWY (with or without you). These stats can be found on Stats.HockeyAnalysis and compare a player's advanced stats (such as Corsi) when he is paired with or without another player (whether it be on the same team or opposition). As a quick example, if you take a look at the Round 2 Game 3 page you can find that Kyle Turris faced Sidney Crosby for 13:31 and Evgeni Malkin for 6:30. Definitely strong competition, but Turris managed to have a CF% of 50.0% against Crosby, and an impressive 63.2% against Malkin.

I do recommend taking your time to dig deeper into advanced statistics as they will eventually become mainstream and they offer a whole new way to look at the game besides your typical fantasy stats. Paul MacLean has even made subtle notes to the media that he himself uses them. If it's good enough for the Paulrus, it should be good enough for you!