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The Importance of Corsi in The Cup Finals
How much attention should you pay to Corsi?
By Bob Duff
And that's fine if you want to go that route, more power to you. But you also might want to file this fact of life away - the 2016-17 National Hockey League season has proven to be the most unforgiving of campaigns when it comes to analytics.
The best of the fancy stats teams during the regular season was the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings also fired coach Darryl Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi after the season because of this little problem called missing the playoffs.
The teams with the best Corsi during this spring's playoffs - the Minnesota Wild (60.86), the Washington Capitals (55.92), the Columbus Blue Jackets (53.14), and Montreal Canadiens (52.67) - long ago traded in their hockey sticks for golf clubs. Between them, only the Capitals managed to make it as far as the second round. The other three teams combined to win a grand total of four postseason games.
Of the two teams left standing, the Predators (50.94) rate seventh overall in Corsi, while the Pittsburgh Penguins (46.95) are a distant 15th out of 16. In fact, if you went back and looked at Nashville's first-round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, you would see that the Predators' analytics numbers in that series were absolutely abysmal.
Generally, this isn't the case at all. In fact, between 2012-16, the Stanley Cup champion was among the top four teams in Corsi during regular-season play. But that won't be the case this spring. The Predators (51.37) finished fifth overall in Corsi during the 82-game regular season, while the Penguins were a poorly-placed 16th at 50.14. But of the top 10 in Corsi this season, four teams missed the playoffs entirely and another four made first-round playoff exits.
That's not to say that there aren't some analytics to suggest Pittsburgh and Nashville are playing well. In PDO - the combination of save percentage and shooting percentage - the Predators are the No. 1 team in the postseason at 1032, while the Penguins are fourth at 1010. Nashville (8.8) and Pittsburgh (8.3) are 1-2 in five-on-five shooting percentage, while the Predators are third overall in five-on-five save percentage (.944), a stat in which the Penguins rank 11th (.927).
Individually, among players with at least 10 games played, the Predators placed four skaters among the top 13 in Corsi, led by forward Filip Forsberg in fifth at 57.77. You'll come across another four Nashville players before you get to the first Penguin in 32nd, Chris Kunitz, the hero of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, who checks in at 51.05.
What does all this mean? Well, if you buy into the value of hockey analytics, then your money should be on the Predators to win the Stanley Cup. Then again, based on the what analytics are playing out this season, you might want to approach that wager with a grain of Corsi salt.
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