Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers

I can almost pinpoint the day that I first dove headfirst into advanced hockey analytics. It was at the conclusion of the 2009-10 regular season, and I was set to appear on a radio program as part of a panel to discuss our picks for the NHL Awards. With a couple of days notice before my appearance, and knowing who else would be joining the panel, I did some background work to see who my peers would be picking for individual awards. When it came to the Norris Trophy, I discovered that the two other panelists were leaning toward Mike Green of the Washington Capitals. I was all-in on Duncan Keith, the eventual recipient.

Knowing full well that the Mike Green crowd would be pointing to his superior point and +/- totals as reasoning to go with the Capitals defenseman over Keith, I set out to learn more about the analytics that you can find on www.behindthenet.ca. Armed with a few days of research and a slightly more than fundamental understanding of how stats like Corsi, quality of competition, and zone starts are calculated and weighted, I felt like I effectively argued how Keith was a superior defenseman.

Today, advanced stats have become a major part of my daily player analysis routine. Of course, a balance between watching games and analytics is optimal when formulating an opinion on a specific player or team. I wanted to do something important. Like, the most IMPORTANT thing ever. So, I took it upon myself to apply this same analytical approach to the most barbaric aspect of hockey: PUNCH FIGHTS. Anybody can look up a scrap on hockeyfights.com and cast a vote for a winner, but, much like goals don’t tell you the whole story, a knockdown punch or homerific voting system can’t tell you everything about a fight.

So, I’ve spent far too much time over the last three weeks watching hockey fights and counting punches exchanged in an effort to look at who among the NHL’s fighting major leaders controls the battles.

Enter: Punch Corsi

Introduction

A Corsi number can be summarized as the difference in shots attempted by the player’s team and the shots attempted against the player’s team in standard 5v5 situations. The stat is named after its inventor, and Buffalo Sabres goaltending coach, Jim Corsi. Corsi essentially measures puck possession. Although it is particularly useful in measuring possession, Corsi is best understood in context with numerous other advanced analytics and their varied incarnations, such as quality of competition, Fenwick, PDO, zone starts, etc. When used properly, advanced analytics help paint the bigger picture. Both Cam Charron and Daniel Wagner have written some excellent pieces on advanced stats here, and use them effectively in their day-to-day work around the hockey blogosphere.

Punch Corsi, while certainly not telling the whole story, attempts to analyze who controls the fight. Throwing the most punches does not necessarily indicate control, as tossing wild haymakers is bound to leave a brawler vulnerable, but it gives us an indication of punching ability. For instance, the NHL’s fighting major leaders thus far in 2013 are B.J. Crombeen and Jared Boll with ten and nine, respectively. If you’ve watched either of those guys fight, you would know that they usually take more shots than they dish out. Guys like Mike Brown and Jordin Tootoo, though, usually appear to toss more than than they receive. Heading in to this project, I assumed that either Brown or Tootoo would likely boast the highest punch Corsi number.

Methodology

Watch fights, count hands thrown, drink beer. That’s pretty much it. “Jersey jabs” were counted as punches thrown/attempted so as long as a distinct punching motion existed.

Punch Corsi is calculated as follows:

Punch Corsi Number = (Punches on Target For + Missed Punches For + Blocked Punches Against ) – (Punches on Target Against + Missed Punches Against + Blocked Punches For)

For the purpose of this study, only players with a minimum of six fighting majors (as of March 20, 2013) in this current season were included.

Results

Player Fighting Majors Punch Corsi Number
Mike Brown 8 48
Colton Orr 8 36
Frazer McLaren 6 22
Dale Weise 7 12
Jordin Tootoo 7 4
Tom Sestito 6 1
George Parros 6 0
Mark Fraser 7 -4
Rich Clune 7 -7
Zenon Konopka 7 -7
Chris Thorburn 7 -19
Brandon Prust 7 -21
Matt Hendricks 6 -22
Jared Boll 9 -28
B.J. Crombeen 10 -41
Krys Barch 6 -51

Analysis

As I had expected, Mike Brown posted the highest punch Corsi number. This is because Mike Brown’s fighting style is what I like to refer to as “cocaine fists”. Punch now, punch fast, think never. I mean, seriously, look at this animal throw punches:

No surprise here that punch Corsi dictates both Jared Boll and B.J. Crombeen are human punching bags. Krys Barch should probably find another line of work. Maybe it’s a case of naivety on my part, but I was rather surprised by how well Colton Orr rated. I was under the assumption that Orr was more of a power puncher, but his punches thrown/attempted are up over 20 per fight, and his opponents routinely looked like they were doing little more than struggling to hang on. Colton Orr is a bad, bad man. I can’t say for sure, but it would appear that the Toronto Maple Leafs place a lot of value in punching.

Also, body shots are back like it’s a Mexican themed freshman party.

It’s difficult to place a value on punch Corsi in relation to the outcome of a fight, although, in the majority of cases the player who directed the most fists toward his opponent was the victor (as per hockeyfights.com voting system). Perhaps there’s an intimidation factor that could be tied to punches thrown/attempted. I am not qualified to speak to the psychological impact, however, neither are most people.

In Conclusion

While it was certainly fun to watch and count punches in over hundred scraps, punch Corsi does not tell us everything we need to know about hockey fights. Hockey fights require more in the way of advanced analytics to be properly contextualized. Early on in the research process, it had dawned on me that punch Corsi is rather useless without some accompanying statistics. Actually, punch Corsi is rather useless altogether, but it was fun as fuck to do this. I’d like to develop and include some new hockey fight analytics in the future, such as fight quality of competition, and another metric minus the blocked punches for and against. I’ll probably name the latter after a commenter at hockeyfights.com, ‘braindog1017′ and ‘chad420′are current favourites for a namesake.

Punch Corsi, fight quality of competition, and several other fight metrics will all be featured on my yet to be opened website tentatively titled BehindTheMitts.ca. This website will come to fruition just as soon as I can convince my mother to lend me her credit card to purchase the URL.

When I present these findings to the New England Journal of Sports Information, I will require a name for punch Corsi that is unique. I hereby nominate ‘Kordic‘ as the proper name for punch Corsi. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the rest of my time on earth not watching hockey fights.

Comments (78)

  1. Kordic was a god! Man died before his time, I fully support this!

  2. I love that fancy stats prove that B.J. Crombeen is a terrible fighter. Watching him drop the gloves in St. Louis and get pummeled on the regular got old after his first 20 fights. For a guy that fights all the time, you’d think he’d be tired of getting his faced punched. Nope.

  3. http://dropyourgloves.com/ does include the punches thrown and landed in it’s fight reviews, so it actually makes it fairly easy to find the Kordic rating for almost any player in any season. For example, I can just look at Derek Dorsett’s 2012-13 fight card here: http://dropyourgloves.com/Fights/FightCard.aspx?Season=2013&League=1&Player=13851, then add up his punches thrown over his 5 fights (49), then subtract the punches thrown against him (23) and see that he has a Kordic rating of+ 26 this season.

    Unfortunately, not every fight has the numbers in it, but most do. This also allows us to nicely compare players from eras past. Bob Probert’s legendary 1987-88 season saw him with a +42 (239 for, 196 against) in 33 fights (although only 21 have punch counts).

  4. Instead of “Kordic”, how about “CompuBox +/-”
    http://compuboxonline.com/wp/plusminus/

    • btw I love the idea of someone (not me) breaking down hockey fights by punches thrown/landed like they do for boxing matches. How has hockeyfights.com not hired an intern to do this already??

  5. Hahahahahaha

    10/10

    Great, great work, good sir.

  6. This is awesome, definitely now my favourite advance stat.

  7. Totally useless undertaking. So many other aspects of the game–which is to say the part where they’re playing hockey–that you could be developing advanced stats for.

  8. nice…..that was fun.

    on another fighting advanced stat idea:

    what i think would be a cool, though time consuming stat to figure, is some kind of metric to the effectiveness of a fighter’s timing for entering into a fight. something along the lines of showing how many goals for or goals against within 5 minutes game play of a fight…..or wins and losses in a game where a player fights.

    some kind of stat to show how effective and useful particular players are at creating that oft-spoken intangible “momentum swing” or “spark” the benches get from their players fighting. i’ve gotta imagine you’d see a trend with a stat like that; showing certain players consistently more effective at timing when to fight for their team.

  9. Krys Barch takes an average of 8 punches per fight, furthermore evidence that he’s terrible at everything he does (except for making drunken rants)

  10. This article is crap. Doesn’t anybody watch fights anymore?

    I dont need any numbers to tell me that Mike Brown is somebody I wouldnt want to run into on the street. He’s out there every night busting his tale off and if you ever played the game youd know what he brings is more than just good numbers. He can skate and kill penalties, and this number doesn’t factor that in.

    Also richard clune man? H’es the hardest working Preadator every night and you’re stupid number rrates him as a minus Do you have a stat for the quality of a punch because Clune throws with the best of them and always sticks up for his teammates oh wait I guess you don’t have a number for that either.

    Dumb article. WHy is this guy even PAYED to write.

  11. So what if you’re a fighter like Joe Kocur or Tony Twist, where you only throw 3 punches per fight, but one of them breaks the other guy’s face? You could call it the Dalgarno factor, since Rob Ray already has a rule named after him.

  12. I came for the stats, I applauded for “Cocaine fists”

  13. I like Punch/Minus as a name more.

  14. Thank you Scott Lewis. You have made my day. Carry on.

  15. Going to rate this one as the best hockey blog post world wide this week.
    Great work

  16. 2 things: 1) bet toronto misses browns kordic stat right now, could be an explanation of their shit streak.. 2) where does mccabe gettin rag dolled count here?

  17. Obligatory Kordic comment – it was a good trade!!!!!

  18. Best thing I read all day. Also, Colton Orr not.only throws often, he throws hard. Gotta be a stat that incorporates both. Colton Orr= Best Fighter In The League.

  19. Can we send this off to the Devils management so they can finally get rid of Krys Barch. I loathe to think what kind of Koridc rating Eric Boulton or Cam Janssen would put up in a full season.

    Appreciating the humor of the article, in all seriousness how can any of the “intimidators” way in the negative be effective? Is anyone really afraid of having to punch Krys Barch repeatedly? Seems like fun if you ask me.

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