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  • Greg Zanon, Corsi Ratings and Mutually Assured Destruction


    My point, in both posts involving numbers, was lost. Both devolved into a debate over whose numbers are more important, whose are only used by morons and idiots, and who only watches the game while others "understand" it. Did any one win? Nope. Just like any other debate, all it did was pit two sides against one another, and no one was convinced either way. 

    People want me to respect the new advanced stats. They want to convince me how valuable they are, that champions can be seen in the Matrix. Until flat out incorrect conclusions are squashed out of the "advanced" stats, you are going to have a very difficult time convincing me they are so all powerful.

    After the jump, a look at the post, and some conversation. Sorry Nathan.

    First, take a read of the post over at The Puck Stops Here on Kukla's Korner. The post makes the case that Greg Zanon is the worst player in the NHL due to his "unadjusted" Corsi number. With a -429 rating, he does, in fact, rank at the very bottom of the league. Knowing what I know about Corsi, this means Zanon was on the ice for 429 shots "directed at the net" against than his opponent. 

    Fantastic. Greg Zanon's job is not to shoot the puck. His job is to keep the puck out of the net. If a puck is directed on net, and doesn't go in, Greg Zanon wins. Is that not as clear cut to others as it is to me? 

    When this post was brought up on Twitter, I heard from a few people saying that the unadjusted Corsi does not take context into account, and other stats like his Fenwick score should be in play along with d-zone starts, and quality of competition. Awesome. Yawn.

    Side note. A Google search for "Fenwick NHL" returns just three results that have anything to do with the NHL, and all three are useless. Either Fenwick users suck at SEO, or no one cares about it. Could be both, I guess. I also jumped into the site for "advanced" stats, BehindTheNet.ca, run by good friend Gabe Desjardins. I can't find a Fenwick rating. 

    On that site, however, I did learn about Quality of competition, or QualComp as it is so nicely nerded up. Turns out, Greg Zanon ranked third on the team (for defensemen) in this metric (with a -.007), behind Burns (.003) and Schultz (.042). Burns & Scultz were the Wild's go to pairing, as Artem Chubarov noted on Twitter. They were the shut down pairing, without a doubt. No argument from me. Also, the difference between Burns and Zanon is .010. Unless you're taking a blood alcohol test or in an Olympic swim meet, that doesn't seem like a huge gap to me. 

    Getting back to the post at hand, the author goes out of their way to show that Greg Zanon is a defensive defenseman, noting his seven points in 82 games. He loses me a bit when he says "He was second in ice time on the Wild behind Brent Burns and played a shutdown defenceman role." Yes, he was second in ice time, but no, he was not a shutdown d-man. He was protection for Zidlicky and a PK specialist. 

    This next paragraph is when I really get lost:

    Zanon is not a puck possession player. Period, end of sentence. There is no good or bad, he just isn't. It is tough to control the puck when it is bouncing off of your body and deflected away from the net. Now, Zanon must reduce opponent's ability to score to be successful. Correct. Two hundred and twelve shots blocked, good for second in the NHL, tells me he did just that. His leading the Wild in PK time tells me he is trusted to do just that. 

    There in lies the fault of QualComp, Corsi and others. They fail to account for special teams, meaning they marginalize specialists. The guy leads the team on the PK, but doesn't face the toughest competition? I'm calling "Bull Shit" on this one.

    Also, if you refer to a stat in a post, included it. Show me the proof he doesn't play against tougher than average opposition. Show me the adjusted rating for his team. With the way this is written, you're blowing smoke. 

    Finally, we get to the part that really scores me. The conclusion gleaned from all of this muddled statistical analysis:

    First sentence is wrong, again. It's not that he is a poor possession player, it is that he is not a possession player. The team's defensive starts are to blame, but all Zanon's fault according to the next senetence. And finally, my favorite sentence in the entire post. 

    Yep, the second most TOI, top penalty killer, second in the league in blocked shots... completely useless to the Minnesota Wild. 

    I would say he does those things. All with, as was said on Twitter, "five broken legs, three broken arms, and a bruise on his left shin."

    Author's note: Advanced stats seem to be a hot button topic, and I realize that by posting this, I assure the world of mutually assured destruction. Or something like that. I apologize in advance to the HW community for dragging you through another comment section of debate over the value of advanced stats, and ask simply that you forgive me. I simply wish to convey to my readers that the stats don't always tell the story. Please be wary of the numbers and ask yourself what they really mean, and do they match what you see on the ice before you draw conclusions.

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