Every week in the Black Box statistical summaries we rank the Flames by Corsi event percentage, which is just a fancy way of describing the percentage of all attempted shots (saves, goals, goal posts, missed nets, blocked shots, whatever) taken by the Flames rather than their opponents when the given player is on the ice. We love it because it’s also the best proxy we have for things like possession and territorial advantage, at least until someone gets out stopwatches every game.
While many of Corsi’s caveats have already been covered, like how often a player starts in the opposing zone instead of their own, or the average quality of their competition, there has always been one unspoken caveat: score effects. Both statistically and subjectively we can see that teams with either big leads or late leads tend to sit back, dump it in, and let their opponents come to them. Consequently a player who is awarded a disproportionate amount of ice-time in such situations is going to have better shot-based metrics, like Corsi.
To allow for that we used Vic Ferrari’s famous time on ice application to peel out only the Corsi data for time when the game was close (within one goal early in the game, or tied late in the game). His site also offers up plain old shot percentage, and Fenwick percentage (Corsi but without blocked shots), but they turn out roughly the same.
As for the Calgary Flames, here’s how the forwards look, as of the start of their extended (and likely to be highly forgettable) holiday road trip.
Forwards Corsi% David Moss 60.5% Tim Jackman 60.1% Blake Comeau 58.3% Lee Stempniak 56.3% Tom Kostopoulos 55.1% Brendan Morrison 53.0% Matt Stajan 52.9% Mikael Backlund 51.2% Paul Byron 48.6% Rene Bourque 48.3% Roman Horak 46.2% Olli Jokinen 46.1% Alex Tanguay 45.9% Jarome Iginla 43.4% Curtis Glencross 42.7% Minimum 3 games
This is largely what weekly followers of the Black Box were expecting, except that the situational effects seem to be exaggerated. Those who start more often in the offensive zone or against lighter competition seem to do even better in close game situations, especially Tim Jackman and Blake Comeau, while those who routinely face top opponents like Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross fare far worse.
It stands to reason that situational effects would apply more early on or when the game is close, because it’s in those situations that coaches would probably cling most tightly to their desired player roles and match ups, saving any shake-ups or experimentation for when the game has gotten out of hand.
Let’s see if that patterns holds up on defense.
Defensemen Corsi% Cory Sarich 53.8% Derek Smith 53.8% T.J. Brodie 52.8% Joe Piskula 51.9% Chris Butler 50.4% Jay Bouwmeester 49.0% Scott Hannan 46.8% Mark Giordano 44.6% Anton Babchuk 42.9%
Among defensemen there doesn’t seem to be any change at all, suggesting that score effects may have more of an impact on forwards than the blue line. Possibly coaches stick to their prescribed roles and situations for their blue lines regardless of score, which certainly jives with what we’ve seen subjectively with the Flames.
As for goaltending, one thing is for certain, the Flames have certainly played better in front of Mikka Kiprusoff than the others, which is especially surprising since they would normally rest Kiprusoff when they’re up against a lighter opponent.
Goalie Corsi% Miikka Kiprusoff 51.5% Henrik Karlsson 46.3% Leland Irving 38.6%
Though this is only a small sample size, don’t be too hard to Henrik Karlsson, because it appears that a completely different team has been playing in front of him than Miikka Kiprusoff.
Conclusions from this quick study? Score effects seem to be more pronounced for forwards than for defensemen, and appear to have the ultimate effect of simply exaggerating their situational effects, like offensive zone starts and quality of competition. We’ll keep an eye on this as the season progresses.