Corsi Hockey League: Better days ahead for Canadiens, Stars

by
Eric Bolte / USA Today Sports

The National Hockey League season is only 10 days old, meaning there's little reason to panic for teams off to slow starts - though for the Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars, things look rather discouraging.

Both teams, expected to be solidly in playoff contention, are off to 1-3-0 starts. They're at the bottom of the league standings in terms of goals per game; Dallas sits 30th with eight goals in four contests, while Montreal has managed only four goals, two of which came shorthanded.

The reality of the latter's situation leads to gulp-worthy stats like this:

Below the surface, however, there are signs of better days ahead for both clubs.

Corsi domination

As a refresher, Corsi is an advanced statistic used to measure shot attempt differential, and is generally best assessed during even-strength play. It's calculated by adding up a team's shots on goal, shot attempts gone wide, and blocked shot attempts, and then subtracting that number from the same types of shot attempts directed at that team's own net.

The difference is then calculated as a percentage of shot attempts for and against. A number greater than 50 percent signals a team's ability to control play.

In short, it's all about having the puck on your stick and sending it toward the other team's net more than it comes at your own goalie - not all that advanced a concept, really.

With that in mind, it's important to note Montreal and Dallas rank high in Corsi For at even strength.

Team Attempts For Attempts Against Difference Corsi For % Rank
Canadiens 206 135 71 60.41 1
Stars 192 146 46 56.8 6

Again, these teams are consistently shooting more than the opposition, and by a wide margin. This bodes well, but unfortunately, the puck just isn't crossing the goal line.

PDO in the basement

This is corroborated by looking at PDO, which is the sum of a team's shooting percentage and save percentage at even strength. It's believed that most teams will land close to 100, with a higher or lower number suggesting that luck - positive or negative, respectively - is playing a significant role.

In case you haven't guessed already, Montreal and Dallas rank at the unluckier end of this list.

Team Sh% Sv% PDO Rank
Canadiens 1.79 88.37 90.16 31
Stars 2.94 90.79 93.73 30

As these devastatingly low shooting percentages make clear, despite strong shot-attempt differentials, these teams aren't producing offensive results.

To make matters worse for the Canadiens, opposing teams have found the back of their net all too frequently, and they've yet to score a goal on the power play.

What does it mean?

Heading into Saturday's action, the Canadiens and Stars can take heart in knowing their luck is bound to turn sooner than later. Shooting percentages simply won't remain that low over the course of a full season, especially in relation to high shot attempt differentials.

Even last's season's worst shooting team - the Los Angeles Kings - finished with an even-strength percentage of 6.21.

The Corsi For rating may may not stay as high either, but, at the very least, this information tells us the Canadiens and Stars have been extremely unlucky in the early going, and there's good reason to believe the puck will start bouncing their way.

(Statistics courtesy: Corsica Hockey)