NHL Possession Numbers Update - Isles going the wrong direction

Last Month, on November 7th, I noted how the Islanders real problem wasn't finishing their opportunities, but simply that their opponents were getting more opportunities than the Islanders were. I'm really busy right now in real life (Finals+Lots of other stuff=Crazyness) so I haven't finished my look at Isles Forwards, but thought I could quickly during class update everyone on how the possession numbers look for the NHL one month later.

Once again - Possession % simply is the % of time a team has the puck in the offensive zone (neutral zone time is ignored) instead of the defensive zone. Possession #s above 50% mean that the team is generally winning the possession battle - below 50% means that they are losing.

Three quick notes:
First, I've changed the metric slightly I'm using to measure possession - we are now looking essentially at the possession #s (Corsi) ONLY when the score is CLOSE - aka within one goal. The reason for this is that when games are blowouts (or just not close), the leading team tends to stop really trying to score and drive possession, resulting in their numbers looking worse than they actually are. I didn't use this measure last time due to sample size.

Second, I've added in the chart below a measure labeled "Effective Possession %". This is an alternative estimate to possession % using Fenwick. What does this mean? Well this measure of possession does NOT COUNT BLOCKED SHOTS. If a hypothetical team is in its own zone 60% of the time (for a Possession % of 40%) but blocks every shot on net, it's not really losing the possession battle - after all, it will always be outshooting the opponent! Thus Fenwick eliminates blocked shots from its numbers to take a measure of EFFECTIVE Possession.*

*Teams have been found to have an actual measure of control over blocking shots (This makes sense), though they don't over preventing their own shots from being blocked. However, teams don't seem to have a measure of control over making opponents miss on their shots, so that is still included in Fenwick.

You should note that the Effective Possession numbers result in more or less the same rankings as regular possession #s, so you don't really need to worry about them.

Third, this data is not including the games of 12/5. It's up to date as of Sunday 12/4.

Rank (Possession) Team Name Possession % (Corsi-Close) Effective Possession % (Fenwick-Close) Points Per Game
1 Detroit 58.50% 57.20% 1.32
2 Vancouver 56.80% 55.80% 1.19
3 Pittsburgh 54.60% 53.40% 1.33
4 Chicago 54.40% 55.20% 1.3
5 St. Louis 54.20% 55.40% 1.19
6 Boston 54.00% 53.10% 1.38
7 Washington 52.50% 52.70% 1.08
8 Colorado 52.00% 51.20% 1
9 Phoenix 51.10% 51.10% 1.16
10 New Jersey 50.70% 50.60% 1
11 Florida 50.60% 50.90% 1.23
12 Ottawa Senators 50.40% 50.50% 1.04
13 Montreal 50.30% 51.70% 1
14 Philly 50.30% 50.30% 1.32
15 Los Angeles 49.90% 48.70% 1.15
16 Columbus 49.60% 50.20% 0.65
17 San Jose 49.40% 49.40% 1.26
18 Winnipeg 49.30% 49.60% 1
19 Buffalo 48.90% 48.20% 1.12
20 Carolina 48.90% 48.20% 0.71
21 Calgary 48.60% 48.00% 0.92
22 Toronto 47.20% 47.20% 1.15
23 Tampa Bay 47.20% 47.00% 0.96
24 Dallas 47.00% 47.20% 1.19
25 New York Rangers 46.60% 46.90% 1.43
26 Edmonton 46.50% 48.60% 1.07
27 New York Islanders 46.10% 46.50% 0.88
28 Anaheim 44.80% 43.50% 0.73
29 Nashville 44.70% 44.30% 1.08
30 Minnesota 43.70% 45.30% 1.37

Last time we checked in, the Islanders had a possession rate overall that was 24th in the NHL. Now they're down to 27th in the NHL. Ouch, that's not good. The last four games have seemed like an improvement on the scoreboard, but the possession #s would argue reality, the big difference there has been the fact that when Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau are on the ice, the Isles shooting % has been over 20%. The Isles have outshot their opponents over this stretch, but some part of that is luck and another part of it is a really high rate of blocking shots (mostly in the game against Dallas).

Mind you, these four games were road it isn't all bad - but still, the Isles don't seem to be pulling out of their nosedive just yet.

By contrast, the Rangers are sort of pulling out of their dive - wait you didn't know they were in a dive? Well they were playing really bad but getting really lucky with their shooting% early on, which disguised their poor play. Since November, they've essentially been middle of the pack at driving possession, which is why they've jumped the Islanders on this chart. They're still not a top team, and are likely to be in the 6th-10th place spot in the East Standings by the end of the year.

Speaking of - Getting Incredibly lucky and thus having an extremely misleading place in the standings - say hello to your LAST PLACE Minnesota Wild. Yes, last place. The Wild are a really bad team people. They're in first place solely because they've shot decently well and because they have an insane .951 EV SV% with the score close. With the EXACT SAME GOALIES last year, the Wild had an EV SV% of .918. This is a gap of basically half a goal per game. They've allowed only 20 goals so far this year when the score is close....they should have allowed 32! (They've scored 28, so we're talking going from +8 to -4. Kind of big). The Wild are extremely likely to collapse - they might make the playoffs simply due to their head start, but they won't be contenders in it.

Oh and remember how last month I talked about how you should FEAR THE RED WINGS? Well keep FEARING. That is one scary team.

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