FanPost

Do puck possession teams lag in hitting (and does it appear to matter)?

Recently, there has been a good amount of talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs with regard to some emerging statistical tools. One article (e.g. here) went so far to call the team’s season a "test-case for advanced stats," which I don't entirely agree with.

One of things the Maple Leafs did really well last year was rack up hits, unlike say, the Chicago Blackhawks. My (and lots of others) initial instinct was: well, the Blackhawks aren’t chasing the puck all night; they are possessing it. But that wasn’t the end of the story for me. Let's try something out.

Let’s suppose Corsi Against (CA) is a proxy for time on defense (the opposite of Corsi For being a proxy for time on attack; JP Nukota at Pension Plan Puppets straight-up stopwatched (!) Time on Attack and confirmed Vic Ferrari's earlier work with the NHL.com numbers from 1999-2001). If we accept this, it should be possible for teams to be comparable if we look at hits per CA. Back to the original thought: isn’t it possible that the Blackhawks are hitting at the same rate as the Maple Leafs if their hits/CA?

[Caveats here: Hits, I think, usually happen at evens in the defensive zone. Neutral zone, open ice hits aren't that frequent, and on the power play, defenders use their sticks and bodies more than laying out hits. The NHL.com numbers for hits are all situations, all zones, but I think in the aggregate they fit an OK-level grade of evidence.]

Alright. For 2012-2013, the Blackhawks hit a rate of 0.471 hits/CA. Toronto’s rate? Still pretty high at 0.665. Sharks? Back down to 0.481.

And just as I was about to close out my thoughts, I decided to rank the 2012-2013 teams in terms of hits/CA, just to do a double-check. Maple Leaps #3. Tops were the LA Kings (0.858!) and the NY Rangers (0.679). Now the Kings have a great Corsi differential. Rangers not so much. #4 was Ottawa, also a good Corsi team. #5 Columbus. No real pattern.

I then looked at 2011-2012, the last full 82-game season. Top two, again, were the Kings (0.729) and the Rangers (0.679).

Now, arena effects are probably in play. However, by the table below, there is not much to indicate that puck possession teams are characteristically hitting less than teams that are not good at puck possession. Here’s the list for 2012-2013 and 2011-2012, ordered by hits/CA. As you can see, pretty random relationship between hits/CA and making the playoffs.

Bottom line: puck possession teams do not appear to lag in hitting, and it doesn't really matter if you want to get to the playoffs. Nothing new, but some further evidence to consider.

Team Year Hits (total) CF (5v5) CA (5v5) Hits/CA Playoffs
LOS ANGELES 2012-2013 1446 2175 1686 0.8577 1
NY RANGERS 2012-2013 1413 2253 2081 0.6790 1
TORONTO 2012-2013 1626 1928 2445 0.6650 1
OTTAWA 2012-2013 1307 2305 1994 0.6555 1
WINNIPEG 2012-2013 1411 2195 2241 0.6296 0
ST LOUIS 2012-2013 1120 1949 1784 0.6278 1
PHILADELPHIA 2012-2013 1316 1943 2140 0.6150 0
BOSTON 2012-2013 1200 2391 2005 0.5985 1
NEW JERSEY 2012-2013 892 1897 1497 0.5959 0
PHOENIX 2012-2013 1260 2173 2117 0.5952 0
COLUMBUS 2012-2013 1188 1811 2031 0.5849 0
PITTSBURGH 2012-2013 1229 2040 2120 0.5797 1
DALLAS 2012-2013 1199 1990 2084 0.5753 0
COLORADO 2012-2013 1241 2073 2170 0.5719 0
MONTREAL 2012-2013 1067 2114 1886 0.5657 1
VANCOUVER 2012-2013 1020 1994 1879 0.5428 1
ANAHEIM 2012-2013 1149 1970 2140 0.5369 1
FLORIDA 2012-2013 1110 2049 2121 0.5233 0
TAMPA BAY 2012-2013 1105 1921 2151 0.5137 0
WASHINGTON 2012-2013 1091 2043 2150 0.5074 1
CAROLINA 2012-2013 1100 2336 2190 0.5023 0
MINNESOTA 2012-2013 956 1883 1925 0.4966 1
BUFFALO 2012-2013 1079 1811 2203 0.4898 0
NASHVILLE 2012-2013 995 1800 2053 0.4847 0
DETROIT 2012-2013 865 2069 1793 0.4824 1
SAN JOSE 2012-2013 1031 2258 2144 0.4809 1
CHICAGO 2012-2013 840 2103 1783 0.4711 1
EDMONTON 2012-2013 1060 1816 2262 0.4686 0
NY ISLANDERS 2012-2013 1018 2172 2174 0.4683 1
CALGARY 2012-2013 935 1951 2164 0.4321 0
LOS ANGELES 2011-2012 2274 3777 3120 0.7288 1
NY RANGERS 2011-2012 2419 3229 3538 0.6837 1
PITTSBURGH 2011-2012 2058 3843 3242 0.6348 1
DALLAS 2011-2012 2235 3578 3598 0.6212 0
ST LOUIS 2011-2012 1949 3575 3164 0.6160 1
PHILADELPHIA 2011-2012 2058 3535 3399 0.6055 1
COLUMBUS 2011-2012 2018 3124 3443 0.5861 0
TORONTO 2011-2012 2218 3671 3833 0.5787 0
OTTAWA 2011-2012 1975 3847 3509 0.5628 1
NEW JERSEY 2011-2012 1677 3020 2983 0.5622 1
PHOENIX 2011-2012 2084 3680 3717 0.5607 1
VANCOUVER 2011-2012 1826 3655 3285 0.5559 1
WINNIPEG 2011-2012 1966 3643 3596 0.5467 0
WASHINGTON 2011-2012 1972 3490 3647 0.5407 1
COLORADO 2011-2012 1889 3718 3523 0.5362 0
DETROIT 2011-2012 1612 3667 3016 0.5345 1
FLORIDA 2011-2012 1858 3432 3495 0.5316 1
ANAHEIM 2011-2012 1856 3326 3527 0.5262 0
BOSTON 2011-2012 1778 3952 3396 0.5236 1
MONTREAL 2011-2012 1840 3306 3584 0.5134 0
TAMPA BAY 2011-2012 1788 3264 3636 0.4917 0
NY ISLANDERS 2011-2012 1840 3491 3848 0.4782 0
MINNESOTA 2011-2012 1771 3077 3871 0.4575 0
CHICAGO 2011-2012 1500 3699 3290 0.4559 1
EDMONTON 2011-2012 1632 3270 3647 0.4475 0
CALGARY 2011-2012 1603 3285 3643 0.4400 0
CAROLINA 2011-2012 1699 3618 3863 0.4398 0
SAN JOSE 2011-2012 1565 3907 3645 0.4294 1
BUFFALO 2011-2012 1512 3449 3598 0.4202 0
NASHVILLE 2011-2012 1514 3242 3714 0.4076 1

Table. NHL teams for seasons 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Ranked first by year and then hits/Corsi Against. Hits from NHL.com. Corsi figures from stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

I miss anything?

This item was created by a member of this blog's community and is not necessarily endorsed by Fear The Fin.

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