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A 2nd Look at the Detroit Pre-Season Game

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For years the Buffalo Sabres Jim Corsi tracked even strength shots attempted as a way to get a handle on whether they were outplaying the opposition or being outplayed. Attempted Shots For and Attempted Shots Against are an imperfect measure of scoring chances and time of possession -- but at a gut level they do in fact record where the puck is located. If your line or defense pairing is giving up far more shots than the rest of the team on a consistent basis--well that's a problem.

The Oiler and Flames bloggers have been tracking the "Corsi numbers" or attempted shots since the NHL started making this data available in the middle of last season. So let's take a look at how all four lines and three defense pairings fared last night. Attempted shots are calculated as follows = Shots on Goal + blocked shots + missed shots. The Corsi number is simply Attempted Shots For minus Attempted Shots Against. This only counts the SAF/SAA at Even Strength (excluding all Empty Net situations).

Corsi +/-
Goaltending/Team
-12 Lehtonen
In the Detroit pre-season game each club scored 1 goal at even strength (Detroit added 2 PP goals and a EN goal). A tie at even strength is good, but the Thrashers were outchanced at even strength by a margin of 12.

Defensemen
+5 Enstrom
+1 Havelid
When the top pairing was out the Thrashers outplayed Detroit.

-4 Hainsey
-2 Bogosian
The second pairing was mildly outplayed.

-12 Exelby
-12 Kulda
The third pairing was just hanging and was lucky to get off the ice without allowing a goal. Did I mention that having Exelby on the roster is holding this team back?

Forwards
-2 Kovalchuk
0 Christensen
-2 Williams
The top line was even or slightly worse. Even is not good enough. You need your top line to outplay the opposition to have a chance to win most nights.

-3 Sterling
-4 Little
-6 Armstrong
Detroit had a mild advantage against the 2nd line.

-8 Reasoner
-9 Stuart
-6 Thorburn
The third line was in their own end a ton. When I saw these numbers I assumed that the Reasoner line was matched up against Zetterberg's line and that is why they were so badly out chanced. Then I looked at the shift chart I was very surprised to see that Reasoner was almost never matched up against Detroit's top scoring line. Those are some ugly numbers considering they didn't even face the toughest line Detroit could put on the ice.

+2 Slater
+0 Stevenson
+2 Boulton
The forth line was the only positive forward line. They did exactly what you expect on the 4th line--play at the enemy's end of the ice.

Conclusion
The 4th line and the top defense pairing outplayed the opposition using Net Shots Attempted as a measure. If the readers enjoyed this I'll do some posts like this in the future.


EDIT/UPDATE: Here's some more cool information. Vic Ferrari has also made this cool program to show you which players where on the ice when a shift ends with a stoppage. (You want stoppage in the opposition end because that means you were applying pressure down there.) This is another plus/minus sort of stat, how many of your shifts ended in the opposition end (good) minus the number of your shifts that ended in your defensive end (bad).

Goaltending/Team
+0 Lehtonen
For a team that was lost the shots attempted battle, the Thrashers did much better in this other measure of territorial pressure having an equal number of shifts that ended in the offensive and defensive ends of the ice.

Defensemen
+2 Enstrom
+2 Havelid

+5 Hainsey
+5 Bogosian

-7 Exelby
-7 Kulda

The top two lines had more shifts that ended in the opposition's end. This is a second measure confirms that the 3rd pairing was struggling to hang on. I find it VERY interesting that there is almost no difference when you compare forward lines, but a wide difference when you compare defense pairings. It is just one game but if this data pattern holds over multiple games it suggests to me that improving the 3rd pairing could have a real benefit to the overall team performance.

Forwards
+1 Kovalchuk
+1 Christensen
+1 Williams

-1 Sterling
+0 Little
-1 Armstrong

-1 Reasoner
+0 Stuart
+0 Thorburn

+0 Slater
+0 Stevenson
+0 Boulton

I find it interesting that the Reasoner line was out shot so badly but didn't have a lopsided pattern of where shifts ended. Did Lehtonen face long shots that he immediately played to the defense when the Reasoner line was out there? Because if they were getting out shot and he was covering the puck or deflecting it into the netting we should see an end-of-shift-face off gap.