Unless Calgary goes on the sort of run down the stretch that would make 2003-04 look commonplace, a solid portion of the this off-season will again be spent picking through the rubble, trying to piece together what went wrong. Naturally, we did something similar round these parts last year and one analysis that is even more relevant for the club today is Flames and the inverted pyramid, where I showed how the club’s top players actually lagged behind the depth guys in terms of driving play.
At the time, I asserted but did not show how and to what degree this is unusual in the NHL. Luckily, JaredL of copper and blue has compiled some league-wide corsi averages for the various forward lines. His results show just how far off the Flames are in terms of puck possession.
First, here are his results:
"Below average" and "above average" are the 25th and 75th percentile respectively. What you are seeing is corsi/60 rates for players compiled between 2007-2011.
He are the Flames players individual corsi rates this season. I’ll arrange them in a depth chart according to average ES ice time per game:
|Tanguay (-9.61)||Jokinen (-10.68)||Iginla (-12.37)|
|Glencross (-9.10)||Cammalleri (-7.02)||Stempniak (+3.75)|
|Comeau (-2.47)||Backlund (+1.91)||Moss (+7.07)|
|Jackman (-0.80)||Stajan (-1.72)||Kostopolous (-4.73)|
|Bouma (-13.02)||Horak (-9.45)|
As you can see, the Flames top-end is getting killed again this season (moreso, in fact). Not only relative to their own bottom-end, but compared to other top lines in the league. The Flames top three forwards (Tanguay, Jokinen and Iginla) are way south of even the 25th percentile of top line players in the NHL.
Of course, we’re talking raw corsi here without context. Sutter has mostly gone power vs power with the big guns this year and none of them have a zone start at or above 50% (although Iggy, who has the worst possession rate amongst regular forwards, has the easiest of the bunch at 48.4).
So their circumstances haven’t been buttery soft. One of the reasons some top lines have excellent corsi rates is their coach works to get them favorable circumstances, like AV and the Sedins in Vancouver. That said, the vast majority of good players tend to play against other good players most of the time in the NHL, so it’s not merely tough sledding that is keeping the Flames big guns at the bad end of the ice as compared to similarly played and payed skaters.
This exercise also displays how far off the Flames are from being elite at this point. My rule of thumb for excellent-or-better possession rates has always been double digits and Jared prove that out here – the best (or most sheltered) scorers in the league have managed +11.97/60 corsi or better since 2007.
You’ll find those types of numbers in the principle forwards of just about every top level team (aside from, say, the Lundqvist based Rangers this season). For example:
Boston – Patrice Bergeron (+21.47)
Detroit – Pavel Datsyuk (+18.53)
St. Louis – David Backes (+11.35)
Vancouver – Ryan Kesler (+13.68)
Pittsburgh – Jordan Staal (+12.05)
Chicago – Jonathan Toews (+17.17)
Many of the guys I show here play some of the toughest competition on the their respective squads. the Penguins, for example, also have Malkin and Crosby with even higher possession rates than Jordan (+18.78 and +35.31 respectively) because they can send Staal out out against the other teams best.
Great teams have players that control the play. Or, at least, have coaches who tip the scales enough so their biggest threats spend more time in the offensive zone (and good enough players elsewhere in the lineup to make that possible).
So if you’re wondering this off-season where the Flames lack or what they need to meaningfully improve, look to this article as a starting point.