Tyler Dellow recently made an excellent and brief explanation of why Corsi matters – success that defies possession metrics is very likely to be unsustainable over a large span of time. Corsi is predictive; although any given season will have outliers, a team that prospers despite bleeding shot attempts is expected to drop off as the bounces stop going their way. Over the long term, a team will be about as strong as their possession numbers indicate, and good teams have started realizing this.
I’ve written about why the Avalanche have been outperforming expectations, but there’s still plenty of evidence that the team is built on ridiculous goaltending and winning an unsustainable percentage of close games. Avalanche fans tend to cite shot quality as a counterpoint (and I’ll delve deeper into this in a future article) but a look at shot location indicates that this is more likely to be a weakness than anything else.
The reason I’m dredging these same ideas up again is because Justin Bourne recently posted a contentiously titled article – Why the Colorado Avalanche are going to get smoked by Chicago in playoffs. He makes mention of their poor Corsi numbers (particularly head-to-head against the Blackhawks), the underlying puck luck behind buoying their record, and of course the injury to Matt Duchene that will almost certainly sideline him until the end of the series.
The Blackhawks, of course, are a possession juggernaut coming off a Stanley Cup Championship and not exactly pretenders to the throne. While their superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are currently injured, both are expected to return for the playoffs. Even if Colorado has a decisive advantage in the season series, they’ve been consistently outplayed and the conclusion that Chicago is a much stronger team doesn’t seem an unreasonable one to make.
Naturally, Avalanche fans has reacted poorly as they are wont to do. Some issue has been taken with the tone of what he’s written, which confuses me because people prognosticate hockey all the time without an asterisk asserting that nothing is a sure thing and no prediction is made with 100% certainty. This is generally left unspoken because it ought to be plainly obvious that these are not legitimate claims of clairvoyance, but our fandom’s zeitgeist seems to be a massive inferiority complex and woe betide anybody who triggers it.