Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poni-Kopi-Willie: Best Line In Hockey?

Since the Kings haven't done much of anything this offseason; I'm forced to over-analyze the one player Dean Lombardi did acquire.  While searching for 'Alexei Ponikarovsky' I stumbled across this Puck Prospectus article.  Puck Prospectus thinks very highly of Poni and they've got some obscure statistical analysis to back it up.  

CORSI number is the relatively new statistic being discussed in-depth by hockey geeks.  It was actually derived by long-time Buffalo Sabres goaltending coach Jim Corsi.
Corsi is a plus/minus stat that measures shots directed at net. For example, if the Edmonton Oilers direct 30 shots at even strength at the Calgary Flames' net in a game, while the Flames direct 45 shots at the Oilers' net, the Oilers have a Corsi of -15 for the game.
This team Corsi number is also broken down and applied to individual players. For example, if Sheldon Souray is out on the ice for 10 shots directed at the Flames' net, while the Flames direct 15 shots at the Oilers' net while Souray is on the ice, he's said to have a Corsi plus/minus of -5.
So now that we all have a general understanding of CORSI.  Let's take a look at Ponikarovsky.  His CORSI number last season was 18.99; good for seventh in the league (50+ games).
...if the LA coaching staff is in any way of the Corsi-persuasion, they will pair Ponikarovsky with Anze Kopitar (8.94) and Justin Williams (16.78) to create a line capable of uber-possession.
Based on last year’s Corsi value, the Kings new line could rank 5th in the league on combined Corsi, and even better considering that Andrew Ladd is now with the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Blackhawks top two-lines of Hossa-Ladd-Sharp and Toews-Kane-Brouwer were among the leaders.  As well as Detroit's Holmstrom/Franzen/Datsyuk and Washington's Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin.  Now, no one is going to confuse Ponikarovsky-Kopitar-Williams with any of those lines but the statistic IS intriguing. It ultimately means that if Terry Murray decides to flank Kopitar with Poni & Williams his wings; Kings fans can expect alot of puck possession and shots on target.
Ponikarovsky’s career shooting percentage is a respectable 11.4%, while Williams (9.4%) and Kopitar (12.7%) are above average as well.
Hypothetically speaking the puck possession and shots should lead to more scoring chances which should ultimately lead to more goals.  This statistic obviously doesn't take into account Justin Williams's fragile body and inability to stay healthy.  But in a world where the CORSI number statistic rules: A Ponikarovsky-Kopitar-Williams line is among the best in the NHL.


  1. Great explanation of the basic use of corsi numbers. I tried to get Gann Matsuda to do an article on corsi, fenwick, and delta stats, and he called it boring. Kuklas korner had an article on Brownies Corsi numbers, and the comments section had a nice debate over the use of these numbers,when applied to drawn penalties.

    I'm such a geek.

  2. Hey! Thanks for reading my blog!

    Yeah, I find Gann's articles boring sometimes even without the stats...ZING!

    I'm a bit of a geek too. I'm a huge baseball fan and after reading Moneyball; it really kind of changed the way I analyze players and teams.

    I always wondered if the same principles could be applied to hockey. Had no idea that it's already been done for years now!

    I did catch that article on Brownie. I think Kings fans expectations of him were a bit high after that 33-goal campaign thinking we may have had the next Jarome Iginla on our hands or something.

    I agree more or less with what the article said: a reduced role wouldn't be a bad idea. He may go out of his way to make a big hit but I'm a bit old-school too. I'm a believer that some of those hits are momentum changers that can't really be quantified by a statistic.

    If you search Dustin Brown on my blog; you should come across one of my rants defending DB after a bunch of fans over at letsgokings.com started bashing his game. I think he went on to score a hat trick the next game.

  3. I think another reason Brown isn't a top point producer is that the Kings play a puck management style(dot to boards)instead of a puck possession style(dot to dot).Alot of those Corsi stats don't take in to account that Brown is burning players to the outside and firing the puck towards the net, but no one is there to collect the rebound so the puck leaves the zone just as quickly as it enters the zone.With no sustained pressure he ends up looking like a 1 trick pony.

  4. Also alot of the faceoffs that they mention in the article are the result of the goaltender freezing one of his shots from the outside to begin with.