Friday, September 2, 2011

A Voracek and Nash Follow Up

Once again I find myself writing an article on the Flyers. I'm not, as Jackets Cannon somewhat offensively suggests, a Philly Blogger. In fact, the Flyers sit just above the Iceland Junior Goodwill team in the as-yet-unpublished hockey teams JaredL likes rankings. When I started looking into Voracek's stats for Chase's series on the Flyers offseason self destruction moves (part 1, part 2), I was quite surprised, especially at how his numbers compared to the much more famous Rick Nash. After I posted my initial article, the not only literate but astute readers at broadstreet (I kid, I kid) raised some valid points: I didn't consider teammate and zone-start effects. I will address those here.


With teammates, we have the same pattern over and over. Every forward that played at least 60 minutes with each of Voracek and Nash, excluding time spent with both of them together, did better with Voracek than Nash. Typically Nash faced much tougher competition, but it seems that the gap is large enough that we can say that Voracek did better. For defensemen, the pattern is pretty much the same, with Tyutin as the exception.

Here are two charts with the results. The first column gives the teammate in question, the second whether the row corresponds to Voracek or Nash being on the ice, the third is the overall Corsi and the fourth how many minutes the player and Voracek/Nash were on the ice together. You should focus on the fifth, giving the Corsi rate. The last column is provided to give some extra context. It gives the average Corsi quality of competition, according to BTN.


PlayerWithCorsiTimeRateCorsi QoC
None of AboveVoracek871.36.7321.09
None of AboveNash-1439-21.5380.515


PlayerWithCorsiTimeRateCorsi QoC


For zone-start analysis, the obvious first place to look is at balanced Corsi by the Philly bloggers over at broadstreet. Here are their balanced corsis from each of the last two seasons, the total and average, weighted by 5-on-5 TOI:

Weighted Avg.-2.109-1.882

This might lead one to conclude that zone starts completely make up this difference. There is, however, a problem. While I really like balanced Corsi as a metric, a drawback is that players with different starts are compared to different players. They had very similar zone starts in 2010-2011, which makes sense because they were often linemates. In 2009-2010, Voracek had an Ozone% of 54.5% compared to 49.8% for Nash. It's always very difficult to say because getting more offensive-zone starts leads to better numbers, but I suspect Voracek's group of comparable players to be better than Nash's.

I'll take a different approach from the Broadstreet guys and Bettman's Nightmare and Gabe from arcticicehockey. Instead of doing something more complicated, I'll just look at how each did when the most recent faceoff was in the offensive zone, neutral zone and defensive zone. I'll be introducing a fancy new metric based on this idea in the next few days, so consider this a sneak peek. This metric isn't perfect, but I think it's a solid indicator of how good a guy is in each zone.

Almost every player in the league has a negative Corsi when they are on the ice during or following a defensive-zone faceoff. Cutting your losses is the name of the game. Here is a chart with the Jackets' Corsi stats with both Voracek and Nash on the ice, one of them and neither when the most recent faceoff was in their defensive zone.

Defensive ZoneCorsiTimeRateCorsi QoC

You can see that Voracek appears to be substantially better than Nash in his own end. Given that the difference is so large, it seems likely that Columbus could have improved by giving Voracek more defensive-zone starts.

Here's how they did following neutral-zone starts:

Neutral ZoneCorsiTimeRateCorsi QoC

This comes very close to matching the overall numbers. We have Voracek nearly 4 Corsi shots better per 60 minutes, but not facing as tough competition.

Here is the attacking end:

Offensive ZoneCorsiTimeRateCorsi QoC

The gap here is much smaller. Actually, given the other numbers I suspect that if we looked only at offensive-zone play then Nash's numbers would be better despite facing tougher competition. Remember that the above includes time well after a faceoff. If he's better than Nash in the other two zones then Voracek will put up better Corsi figures when they jump on the ice after an offensive-zone faceoff but with the puck elsewhere.

To that end, here is a table giving their Corsi stats within a minute of an offensive-zone faceoff:

Recent Offensive ZoneCorsiTimeRateCorsi QoC

I didn't include the same for the defensive zone because it is very similar to the overall. To be honest, that Columbus did best when neither were on the ice according to this measure makes me uneasy. I think a lot of that may be due to faceoffs; cutting it to within a minute of the faceoff means it's tough to get something positive to count if you lose the faceoff or even win it but not cleanly. As I said, this is all a work in progress.


If I've done my job at all with the writing, a picture has emerged. Voracek appears to be more than capable of carrying the load, particularly in the defensive and neutral zones. His offensive numbers are not as strong. For further evidence of that, his points percentage is not very good. This indicates that he's mainly relying on teammates to convert possession in the offensive zone into goals. The Flyers would do well to put him with a scorer like Giroux or Briere.

In the next few days I'll post a full list of performance after each type of faceoff for every player in the league last year.


  1. Good stuff, Jared. Where did you get the data from? Just curious about those QoC numbers, because to me that seems like the elephant in the room.

  2. Thanks, Sunny. We've missed you on 2+2.

    The data I ripped from Play-by-play and roster reports from For QoC, I don't have it automated as of yet so I use the average 5-on-5 Corsi for each player on the ice from the other team, according to BTN. This isn't perfect because I'm using all ES for my analysis and there are some very small differences in our numbers - I believe this is mostly due to interpretation of the few errors in the NHL sheets and things like a shot just as a penalty is expiring. Should be close enough, though.

    I agree that QoC is the elephant in the room. With it and zone starts we've seen the same pattern over and over. A > B, but B has faced tougher situations. Among others, you have this and Kane's numbers looking much better than Hossa's but with much easier ice time. I'm working on figuring out a good way to adjust, but it's not all that easy because ice time isn't random - tough players tend to play other tough players making the effect tough to measure.