About Colton Orr’s Corsi…

Every now and then I’ll have a compounded add-on to the game thread. Usually the morning after a game is Steve’s space for the LFR, but we have a SERIOUS DISCUSSION going in the comments of the Leafs-Penguins recap pertaining to Colton Orr’s solid Corsi number on Saturday.

Colton Orr’s solid WHAT? Yes, as mentioned by Jeff O’Neill on the post-game show Saturday, Colton Orr lead the Toronto Maple Leafs in Corsi against the Penguins. With Orr on the ice, the Maple Leafs directed 10 shot attempts at the Penguins net and had just 1 against. The 90.9% rate was the best on the Leafs, and the +9 raw number was the second best among all players in the game, behind Joe Vitale’s +10. ExtraSkater.com has all the excellent nuggets.

What does it mean, man?

What Colton Orr’s Corsi number means is that the Leafs held onto the puck a lot when Colton Orr was on the ice, and they generally had the puck in the offensive zone. That’s all it really means, and it shows that the Leafs fourth line had a lot of success pinning the puck in deep and establishing a cycle—or rather, doing all the things that line wasn’t doing when I was criticizing them. There’s not a lot of value in single-game possession results, particularly when they go against a trend. If this Colton Orr line with Jay McClement and Carter Ashton start putting together more shifts like this over a decent stretch of games, it’s probably worth mentioning further.

We did mention in the preview how poorly the Penguins do in possession when either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin are not on the ice. Last night, Orr’s primary matchup was the third line for Pittsburgh: Brandon Sutter, Chuck Kobasew and Tanner Glass. The combined Corsi rate of those three players going into last night’s game was 42.3%, so one could make the argument that those players have made a habit of getting hemmed in their own zone all season.

One could also point out that Orr was on the ice for six offensive zone faceoffs and just two defensive zone faceoffs. From “open play”, or the play between the first zone exit after a faceoff, Orr’s Corsi was a little less dominant. It was still however, impressive, and this is one of the reasons I’m very impressed by Carter Ashton this season. He has a lot of speed to go along with his size and physicality. It’s an element he didn’t have to his game in the last couple of seasons but you can tell the skating work he’s done with Barb Underhill has paid dividends. He’s a lot quicker into the zone and the Leafs recover a tonne of pucks on the dump-in.

Here are the zone entry statistics from last night with Orr on the ice. Note how much more successful the Leafs were at getting pucks into the zone. The Penguins depth players are generally “dump and chase” players, but Jay McClement has had some success at carry-ins this season. I tend to believe that his poor Corsi rates last season are more because of the style of game Randy Carlyle has him play as opposed to his talent.

By team:

Failed Shots Carry
Failed Shots Entries Entry
Toronto 8 4 2 5 0 4 9 69.23% 0.46
Pittsburgh 9 5 1 4 2 0 6 46.15% 0.08

And by individuals:

Failed Shots Carry
Failed Shots Entries Entry
McClement 4 2 1 3   2 5 71.43% 0.43
Ashton 2 1 1       1 50.00% 0.50
Orr 1     1   1 2 100.00% 0.50
Raymond 1 1         0 0.00% 0.00
Ranger       1   1 1 100.00% 1.00

For “Shots” by the way, I’m using unblocked attempts, or Fenwick. Orr’s Fenwick during the game last night was +7/-1, so the Leafs generated one unblocked shot for during the six offensive zone faceoffs taken.

You can see it was mostly McClement driving that line last night. Ashton adds an element to that line that Frazer McLaren doesn’t. Orr looked like a reasonable hockey player last night when he was getting the odd shift and not chasing around the other team’s goons. He looked like a guy that would absolutely eat up beer-leaguers, unlike last season. McLaren’s Corsi, by the way, was the lowest on the Leafs last night.

Part of the reason I was against re-upping Orr and McLaren in the summer is just because of guys like Ashton, or Josh Leivo, or David Broll, or any of those other Leafs that are top six on the Marlies but don’t have a lot of potential other than “depth NHLer”. Add Troy Bodie and Trevor Smith on minimum salary to that mix and there’s no real reason to carry around a fighter. The Leafs third line last night played like a third line should play, being first onto pucks and focusing on wearing the other team down with a cycle rather than trying to hit and fight anything that moves.

And the weird thing is that it works! People say that “the work done by good energy players doesn’t show up in the numbers” but it did last night. If you’re keeping the opponent in their own zone, as the Leafs did, then the other team can’t take shots! That’s exactly what Corsi measures: zone time. It doesn’t account for quality of shots, but it accounts for the amount of time spent in the other team’s zone.

Now, as you can tell by the entry numbers, the Leafs let the Penguins into their zone a little more than indicated by shot attempts alone. If the third line played like this for 10 games, obviously they wouldn’t be putting up 90% Corsi rates every night, but they may come in at over 50. Let’s just wait until that actually happens before we anoint McClement-Ashton-Orr the best third line in hockey.

Incidentally, Ashton’s Corsi rate this season is 57.0%, the best on the Leafs. He’s only played 52.6 minutes, but he’s been excellent in his role in the early going. I’m not sure how much that number means going forward, but he’s earned himself the opportunity to play regularly on the Leafs through the Western road swing. Orr’s Corsi, at 43.2% on the season, shows that through much of the season, he’s been doing exactly the opposite of what he did against Pittsburgh.

  • My head is going to explode if I read the word corsi one more time. heh. Just messing with ya

    “Add Troy Bodie and Trevor Smith on minimum salary to that mix and there’s no real reason to carry around a fighter.”

    Except you know, to fight. And hit people real hard. You could call it… the job they’re paid to do

    I understand as someone who has never played hockey it is tough to understand what those things mean to a team, but trust me when I say they mean a lot, especially to the players who can’t hit or fight nearly as well.

    I pity the fool who doesn’t love our leafs this year!

    • Did I say that fighting wins games? Don’t think so

      But hey way too miss the point Cam, can’t say I expected much better. If you honestly cannot acknowledge those skills as positives assets then there’s little hope for you in the game of hockey beyond statistical analysis

        • MaxPower417

          I take it that you’ve never played hockey either? So am I dealing with another armchair nerd who knows nothing whatsoever from personal experience so tries to use statistics to make themselves sound like an all knowing genius? I guess that’s the internet for you.

          And no, just because you rely strictly on numbers to dictate your thoughts on hockey and I use my own knowledge paired with that to form mine does not make you of a higher intelligence than I am… quite the opposite actually seeing as how you’re relying on information someone else has given you to form an opinion instead of ideas you’ve formulated yourself. Just because you’re a numbers junkie you’re not automatically smart and just because I disagree with the use of stats alone it doesn’t make me a dimwit, as the majority of the users on this site seems to believe. I’m currently a 4th year Business Commerce major and I understand the importance of numbers. But I also understand hockey and while numbers are a cool thing to takeaway from the game, there about a million other small things in it that can’t be measured by a stat like Corsi. This is more directed at you Cam because you’re unable at times to write a sentence without referring to it at least once.

          Look idiot, I never said that fighting or hitting wins games. But if you can’t even acknowledge that those things are positive then you’re clueless. If you’re looking for a reason why Mclaren or Orr are in the line-up well then now you’ve found it, if you’re guessing why Clarkson got overpaid so much he’s your answer, I think it’s safe to say Carlyle& management team know hockey a heck of a lot better than any of you. You sit on here trying to rip on every single post that suggests that fighting or hitting is a positive to a hockey game but all your stupid little snarky comments do is prove to all knowledgeable hockey fans that you don’t know a thing.

          • MaxPower417

            That’s a lot of words without addressing the statement you made that I was calling you out for.

            You said fighting doesn’t win games. Is the point of hockey not to win games? If something has no relation to wins, then why does it matter?

            You can say that possession isn’t everything true. But it contributes to wins. You can say goaltending isn’t everything. True, but it contributes to wins. You can say that special teams aren’t everything, but they contribute to wins. The better you are at any of those things, the more games you win

            Fighting isn’t everything doesn’t cover it, because in truth, it isn’t ANYTHING. Team’s that are the “best” at fighting can lose or win just as easily as the teams that are the “worst” at fighting.

            It’s a pretty simple concept, but please try again to make this an abstract macro debate so you can more easily ignore the facts.

            Oh, and the final point that has possibly going over heard. It seems to me that Cam’s comment was of the “tongue-in-cheek” variety, considering if it wasn’t about a topic so ridiculous as fighting in hockey, he wouldn’t never insinuate causality over such a small sample. And you’re mistaken, I did play hockey when I was younger, but I don’t feel that has any bearing on my opinions of the NHL game one way or the other. There are plenty of scouts, coaches and GM’s that never played the game. I guess they don’t know shit either.

          • MaxPower417

            Clarkson hit Scuderi last night, he went down and didn’t come back. Resulting in a fight between Mclaren and Engelland that got all the players into the game, changing the identity of the game into one that was more of the leafs style. It can give a team a physiological edge that changes the way they play. I’m probably wasting my time, because I didn’t use a graph and I don’t have a number value to show this, so I can’t imagine it’s getting through whatsoever.

            It’s a change of mindset, I’m not sure what hockey you played if you can’t understand that. Girl’s perhaps? I hear it’s non-contact so that would make sense.

            And coaches and GMs who haven’t played the game, please name them.

          • MaxPower417

            So wait. Engelland stood up for his teammates and fought the big bad Leaf.

            Did that energize his team?

            Or wait…was is the Leafs that laid a big hit AND had a fight gained from this altercation.

            Well…which is it?

            Here’s the deal. For something to be of importance, it has to eventually lead to results. Agreed? So, if you’re point is true that fighting helps a team out and makes them play better, than isn’t it only logical that they would win more often than teams that don’t? After all, don’t teams who player better tend to win more?

            To clarify my coach/GM comment, I should have said “at a high level”, I’m sure most if not all played as kids at least.

          • MaxPower417

            It can go either way, but it was the turning point to change the game into a physical one. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the leafs severely outhit the penguins and that just wears a team down. It allows you beat a team with some pretty skilled players when some of your prominent ones are injured. If a big hit is thrown, the opposing players are a lot less likely to retaliate out of fear of Orr and Mclaren which is demotivating overall… not to mention that there are few things better to get your team going then throw a massive body-check on an opponent and have them do nothing about it. It’s not about how many times you fight, it’s about intimidating the opposition. It’s about the other team knowing that if they want to try something they’ll have to answer to the big boys.

            More or less, this physical play can SOMETIMES bully other teams that may be more skilled into a win.

            Boston has been doing it for years, the crucial aspect of it all is Team Identity.

          • MaxPower417

            This strawman narrative you present is too simplistic and the question posed is a false choice. The reality is, not all fight are created equal just like not all shots on net are created equal. Like we have quality shots in hockey there are also quality hits and quality fights (not staged ones). The best teams – like the leafs – are able to optimize quality scoring chances, hits, fights etc. Puck possession (and corsi) is an incomplete and often crude description of quality.

          • MaxPower417

            Max, are you missing Mr. T’s point deliberately or do you just legitimately not understand? Hockey is a game of physicality and intimidation. Guys like Orr and Clarkson deliver these elements, and it does feed into winning. If you’re a defenceman skating back into a corner you know these guys are coming to thunder you, you will quite often rush your play and not make an optimum decision. This may not show up in the stats but it happens all the time. A lot of pure stats folks discount this but I guess it is understandable if you’ve never played, coached etc.

          • MaxPower417

            Winning is a stat. So you can’t say it doesn’t show up in the stats without saying it doesn’t contribute to winning.

            So it is simply an exercise of discovering whether or not there is a link between fights and wins.

            There isn’t btw. Yes, I was baiting Mr T. (fitting name btw) along to a point where he would have to confront this and I think he realized that and decided he had better things to do when he suddenly exited the conversation right before having to fess up to that.

            KesselKadri proposes a new angle. That we should remove staged fights. Unfortunately, he then cites the Leafs as an example of this, which is a poor call as the Leafs last season had a disproportionate amount of staged fights. Orr in particular was bad for this, with all but one of his fights occurring in the first period and a very high percentage within the first 5 seconds of his shift.

          • MaxPower417

            Sorry for the late response, some of us actually do get busy with real life time to time. I’m also wondering if you got the point whatsoever, because if you read my comments again I do not once claim that fighting wins games.

            YOU want me to say that, because that’s the only angle of argument you have apparently… but sadly, no that’s not what I was saying at all.

            Jordan and kesselkadri seem to get it, maybe hockey just isn’t the right sport for you?

          • MaxPower417

            Oh wow, you actually aren’t getting this.

            Yes, yes I know you argument, it’s nothing knew.

            But you haven’t answered this very simple question. If it doesn’t help you win, why. Is it important?

            For viewer entertainment? For player entertainment? Sorry but I care about wins. You’ve said yourself time and time again, that fighting doesn’t help you win games, so why should I care?

          • Not Norm Ullman

            No, YOU aren’t getting it. Like I said earlier I didn’t expect you to understand my points of how physical play can be a positive aspect of the game because you just cannot understand something if it can’t be shown by a number. I don’t have a number of how team toughness can help win games so to you it can’t be a thing, I almost feel bad for you.

            And to the guy above me, RM, like I also said before your comments trying to make fun of a basic aspect of a game do nothing more than prove you know nothing about hockey…

            And yeah, it is a pretty relevant major, got a job lined up and everything. Care to share yours loser?

          • MaxPower417

            No, really stop thinking you understand and listen for a second.

            I’m not even arguing the validity of fighting yet. That’s what you don’t get.

            You said two things.

            1) FIghting is important
            2) Fighting doesn’t help win you games.

            I’m asking you to explain how you can hold both those opinions simultaneously.

          • MaxPower417

            I’m just going to go ahead and write you off as a lost cause man, I suppose I could write another few paragraphs of what I said earlier in a dumbed-down version but I really just don’t feel like you’ll understand.

            You don’t want to accept that physical intimidation (yes, including some fights *gasp*) can be a positive in a game, and can sometimes contribute to wins, then by all means continue to spew that over this website and make yourself look like a fool.

            Hockey is one of the few things in life that I DO understand, and it seems like quite a few people here get what I’ve been saying. I’m not sure if you honestly don’t get it or if you’re just trying to wait for me to slip up so you can categorize everything I’ve said under “fighting wins hockey games” but that just isn’t it pal.

            So do you really want me to explain it again and have you listen with an open mind? I somehow doubt this.

            If it is the case then I’d love to help you understand, but if you’re just a child trying to win an argument, then please go away.

          • MaxPower417


            Okay, so now you are starting to get it. In a ass backwards way anyway. You say now that “fights lead to wins” but before you repeatedly said “I don’t claim fights leads to wins”.

            Refer to posts 3 and 22 for two such examples.

            Jesus christ man, I was just trying to call you out on accidentally contradicting yourself and it took you a dozen posts to understand that. I`m ashamed to have taken the same major as you.

            Wait…you do understand now don’t you?

          • MaxPower417

            What do I have to be embarrased about? You’ve proven to everyone here that you can’t understand one of the most basic parts of hockey while you constantly post on a hockey website.

            A five year old could grasp this concept, yet you can’t. You just attribute it all to “fighting wins hockey games” but if you weren’t braindead you would have gotten the point by now.

            Final post back, because at this point I’m not sure if you’re just trolling or if you really are THIS stupid. If you are, my sympathies.


          • MaxPower417

            I know I said that would be my last one but I have to say LOL! Thanks for that, actually made me laugh

            Don’t worry buddy, as long as wal-mart is hiring cart pushers there’s hope you you!

  • For “That’s exactly what Corsi measures: zone time” read: “Corsi is a good way of approximating zone time.”

    When you’re often dealing with people who hate/misunderstand advanced stats, it pays to be precise.

  • MaxPower417

    Fighting does win games and it does improve team’s rankings. And so does hitting. It is just very hard to quantify. For example, Pittsburgh`s best defenseman was taken out of the game as a result of Clarkson`s hit. Immediately after McLaren fought Engellund thus preventing retaliation on Clarkson.

    Clarkson was able to continue hitting with impunity for the rest of the game. It is hard to quantify how many more ribs got cracked or muscles were made sore. The Pens were forced to play the rest of the game with 5 defensemen making it easier for the Leafs to score. Missing Scuderi for whoever long as a result of injury will make it easier for other teams to beat Pittsburgh and therefore this will put Leafs in a more favourable position in the standings vis-a-vis Pittsburgh. All the other teams that saw the video will be afraid of getting injured when Clarkson is on ice etc. etc.

    A similar story can be told about the Leafs vs. Habs game last season when Colton Orr injured Rene Borque with a knockout punch to the face.

    Just because some geek can `prove` that, on average, and considered in isolation, a won fight does not necessarily result in a victory in any given game does not mean that fights don`t win games and improve the team`s record. Broken jaws, ribs, concussions, intimidation factor etc. are very hard to quantify. But they do matter and they do impede a team`s ability to win.

    • mjd

      Honestly, as a former player (who was pretty much a goon) I can say that I see the value of fighting in some situations. I do not think it adds value to a team’s approach in the average game, but I do think there are situations in which it does.

      Here I can’t help but think of Max Talbot getting his ass handed to him while he was still with the Penguins, and playing the Flyers in a must-win playoff game. As he skated off holding his finger to his lips you could just hear the Flyers folding…

      Having said that, I can’t help but detect a certain air of celebration that a player was injured in the game, leading, perhaps, to a win by the Leafs. I can’t imagine that as a player you’re ok with intentionally injuring a player to increase your chances of winning, although it’s hard to read what you wrote and conclude any other intent in your comments.

      To put it bluntly, if you are in favor of intentionally injuring players, and your argument for allowing fighting is that it prevents a team from policing that behavior, you aren’t a person whose opinion should matter a damn in this matter. It’s guys like you that blemish the entire argument by claiming that hurting a guy on purpose is somehow hockey. That argument, when made in public by knuckleheads like you, is actually a powerful argument for CURTAILING fighting effectively.

      I often argue that fighting will continue to exist in hockey until the league gets serious about enforcing the rules regarding hitting. That’s an argument that can be made with some reasonableness. ‘Fighting wins games because it knocks players out of them and also prevents a team from protecting players’ is an argument guaranteed to fail, as it should. To most normal people, hockey players included, it sounds like ‘all we need to do to win is injure their star center!’

      That’s not hockey.

  • MaxPower417

    I am of the opinion that staged fighting is absolutely useless and bad for the game. But when I’m on the ice I know as a team it is important to stand up for eachother. Results may not show in a specific game or the next, but over the course of a season it is vital to team chemistry to have eachothers back. I wouldn’t know how to quantify this but I feel it is real.

  • Not Norm Ullman

    Stupid stats nerds, using actual data instead of anecdotes! Trust me as someone who wins arguments with anecdotes, I know they’re totally not fallacious because they have psychological value and stuff. I’m totally a major in something relevant too! MIRITE?

    Serious question: Anyone ever plotted possession over time and observed a continual decrease for the time being successfully “intimidated”?

    • MaxPower417

      Serious question: Anyone ever plotted possession over time and observed a continual decrease for the time being successfully “intimidated”?

      I hear as : Can anyone show this as a stat so I can understand what we’re talking about ?!

      • MaxPower417

        More like, can anyone show this as a stat so we can legitimately discuss it instead of trading anecdotes? I mean, it’s an interesting thing to study, but I’d prefer to have a legitimate study of it instead of relying on evidence that isn’t valid. And until that is done, confirmation bias will rule the debate because anyone who already believes fighting wins games is uninterested in finding out if he/she is actually correct. There’s been work done on this already. People watch the games in excruciating detail and put together datasets so we can understand the bigger picture, and that picture is that the level of fighting a team engages in does not explain that team’s win/loss record. At all. But then people will come along and personally insult the people who did that work because they can’t think of a better argument and because they tune out as soon as they hear “stats.” Probably because the people who analyse the game using stats are also the ones responsible for shattering their comfortable view of the game and suggesting that, hey, maybe hockey is way harder to understand than we thought.

        Also, Mr T, nice little dig about girls’ hockey way back up there. Bet you thought you wouldn’t get called out for saying something so stupid. But here goes. That was stupid and unnecessary. We get it, you think girls and nerds and people in academic fields that aren’t yours are weaklings and losers. Grow up.

        • MaxPower417

          So you’re saying that this can’t be discussed until a study is done by other people so they can formulate your opinion for you? Typical.

          Actually the meaning of the comment was my sympathies that girls hockey is non-contact, so a girls hockey player may not understand the physicallity point that I was attempting to make. And no actually I only call someone a loser when they first call my life choice irrelevant. Way to assume though.

  • Not Norm Ullman

    YAY FOR THE MCCLEMENT ATTENTION AND COMMENT! Seriously. Glad he – and the particular things he does – are getting looked at. They don’t show up in the normal Corsi very well.

    Only other comment. Check out Smith’s Corsi sometime. Ouch ouch ouch.

    Ouch. After 6 games.