Embracing advanced stats
IT’S HIGHLY IMPROBABLE THAT IN THE SINGLE NHL SEASON HE played, Jim Corsi was drafted in one of the very few hockey fantasy pool leagues that existed at the time. A backup goalie for the Edmonton Oilers that 1979-80 NHL season, Corsi’s went 8-14-3 with a 3.65 goals-against average in 26 games. The league didn’t even track save percentage in a formal fashion. Fast-forward 35 years later and the word Corsi has become synonymous with stats analytic junkies who crave additional facts and figures to explain why certain players are more valuable than others on the ice. Fancy stats have become all the rage among believers. They’re also a lightning rod for critics who brush them o as unnecessary layers of random statistical propaganda.
Corsi played for a bit in Italy after his NHL stint, went into coaching and later developed the Corsi stat to measure how hard goalies worked in readying for shots that weren’t just on net, but that were blocked or went wide. There are other analytic stats out there, and in this Poolbook annual, Dobber Hockey pool guru Darryl Dobbs examines which ones might become part of fantasy leagues in the future.
You’ll notice in the Power Zone section on team pages, we replaced arcane plusminus team leaders with leaders in Corsi Close and o ensive zone start rates. We don’t necessarily expect these analytic stats to become part of your fantasy league, but cagey poolies can use strong underlying numbers to see which players drive possession and are more likely to be productive in o ensive situations.
Corsi has come a long way in 35 years. He didn’t become Edmonton’s goalie of the future, but he did register three assists, including one on a goal by Wayne Gretzky. And now he’s making a lot of points with stats gurus.
Let us know what you think about advanced stats. Would you be open to entering a pool that tracked Corsi, Fenwick, PDO or anything else? And are there any mainstream stats out there you don’t monitor as much anymore? We’ll listen to your feedback and consider making changes in next year’s Poolbook.
JIM CORSI CIRCA 1979