Drew Doughty on advanced stats: 'That Corsi thing is a bunch of crap'
Los Angeles Kings defender Drew Doughty doesn't score goals or record assists at a superstar level, but he's generally considered one of the best blue-liners in hockey.
Doughty's value isn't derived from putting big numbers from the back-end, though. Instead, his value is derived from a preternatural ability to match up against top-competition and help his team tilt the ice in a favorable direction.
When he's on the ice, Doughty helps creates an environment where it becomes more likely that the Kings, rather than their opponent, will score the next goal. The two-time Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold Medal winning defender's ability to control play is probably best represented by his sky high "Corsi For" percentage (Corsi is an expanded type of plus/minus metric that is tabulated by counting up five-on-five shot attempts for and against).
Over the past three seasons Doughty has led all regular NHL defensemen in Corsi For percentage by a pretty wide margin. In contrast, he's just the 22nd best defenseman by counting stats during the same time frame.
Despite his Corsi superstar status, Doughty has no time for these new fangled nerd hockey metrics:
The full context of the quote is worth considering here because Doughty was asked about the most commonly cited advanced statistic in hockey in reference to his most regular defense partner Jake Muzzin specifically.
The Corsi statistic rates Muzzin highly and so Doughty was asked whether or not, considering Muzzin's auspicious underlying numbers, his teammate is "among the most underrated defensemen in the league." Here's his full answer via LAKingsInsider.com:
Yeah. I think that Corsi thing is a bunch of crap, personally. That’s not to take away from Muzz being the top guy in the league, because you know Muzz is a really good player. He’s improved so much over the last few years. He’s just going to improve even more and become better. Me and Muzz have it in our minds that we’re going to be one of the best D-pairings in the league one day, so we’re going to work towards that.
Though Doughty has no appreciation for the Corsi statistic, it's probably worth pointing out that he instinctively understands the importance of puck possession, which Corsi is commonly used to approximate. Last season, for example, he specifically asked the Kings coaching staff to play on a pairing with Muzzin. His reasoning was instructive:
"When we’re both on, we’re not going to have any chances against," Doughty told John Hoven at the time. "We're going to be in the offensive zone, we’re going to be creating chances because we’re so good at moving the puck together and so good at getting by guys on their forecheck. We never spend time in our zone."