NHLN Power Rankings: Jan. 31, 2017

Scott Maxwell
January 31 2017 04:11PM

It's time for your weekly dose of the NHL Numbers power rankings. I'll look at the five best and worst NHL teams thus far in the season, as well as the three best and worst players in the last week.

Note: All use of Corsi For and Expected Goals For are Score and Venue Adjusted, and at even strength. All stats come from Corsica Hockey, and NHL.com (don't worry, it's only the standings).

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Examining the Neutral Zone play of the Leafs' defence corps

DragLikePull
January 31 2017 11:36AM

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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

Many of us who write about hockey from a statistical standpoint are fond of using Corsi, otherwise known as shot attempt ratio, to describe the general flow of play when various players or teams are on the ice.  The idea is that a team with a ratio above 50% is doing well at controlling the game, while a team below that mark is getting outplayed.  While Corsi is a good high-level indicator, especially at the team level, it does have problems in terms of evaluating individual players.  The biggest problem is that since Corsi takes account of all shot attempts while a player is on the ice, we don't have any indication of how much credit or blame to assign to each player.

The best way to tackle that problem is to build more granular data sets.  One of the most promising ways of determining individual player impacts is by measuring their performance in the neutral zone.  Neutral zone play has strong correlations to both shot attempts for and shot attempts against, which makes it a good way to assess some of the things individual players are doing well (or poorly) in the battle to outshoot your opponent. 

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Andrej Sekera, No. 1 Defenceman

Jonathan Willis
January 31 2017 11:15AM

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The Edmonton Oilers have taken a defence-by-committee approach this season. Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell both play a lot, just under 22 minutes per game. Adam Larsson’s numbers are skewed a little by not taking on any kind of offensive role, but he too is over the 20-minute mark on average.

At the top of the depth chart is Andrej Sekera. The best defenceman to enter unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2015, Sekera has emerged as an all-situations workhorse for the Oilers and their top overall blueliner.

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Are the Flames too reliant on special teams for scoring?

Ryan Pike
January 31 2017 10:00AM

This season, Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan has a common refrain in post-game press conferences. Whether his club wins or loses, Gulutzan frequently notes that the key to winning in the National Hockey League is winning the special teams battle.

It's probably no coincidence then that the Flames began their resurgence (and their climb up the Western Conference standings) when their power play began scoring and their penalty kill became more adept at avoiding goals against. It's nice to see, because the Flames have been one of the least potent offensive clubs in the NHL when playing at even strength.

But are the Flames too reliant on special teams for scoring? And which players aren't pulling their weight offensively?

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Watch The Game Episode 23: Catching up

Watch The Game Podcast
January 31 2017 08:52AM

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We're back after a month hiatus! Sam, Cam, and Adam talked about the NHL's All-Star weekend, how it could be improved, and who it's actually marketed towards. Then they dug into the New York (?) Islanders and their arena fiasco, and where the franchise may end up in the next few years. Also, can the Columbus Blue Jackets outlive Western Civilization as we know it? Listen to find out! 

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