Patrick Roy vs. Corsi, Round (we’ve lost count)

 (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy looks at advanced stats as being obvious at best and something to be tossed in the garbage at worst. He’s “not a math guy,” after all.

You really can’t blame the guy for this, seeing as how the advanced analytics crowd predicted the Avalanche couldn’t sustain their success of two years ago (they couldn’t) and that Roy’s team has atrocious possession numbers: Like sitting at 36.3 percent in CorsiClose 5 on 5, the only team under 40 percent in the NHL after the admittedly tiny sample of five games.

(Last season, they were second-to-last with 42.9 percent, just ahead of the carcass of the Buffalo Sabres.)

Roy was asked about the Avalanche’s offense this season on Tuesday, as Colorado has scored 16 goals and given up 16.

“We’ve been looking at all the games. If you’re looking at our Corsi or our Fenway, our numbers aren’t very good,” he said.

(Yes … “Fenway.”)

And then it was time to once against discuss fancy stats:

“And I don’t think it’s because of the number of shots that we’re giving, it’s the number of shots we’re not taking. For instance, if you looking at Corsi … the part I don’t like about the Corsi is that you could shoot from the red line, or you could shoot from a terrible angle, and your Corsi will look good. Puck possession has nothing to do [with it]. Fenway, there’s a bit of puck possession in there, but it’s more like shot attempts. If a guy shoots from the red line, it’s a shot attempt.”

“This is something we don’t do very well, or that we don’t think to do a lot. We need to simplify our offense, putting more pucks at the net, and I think by this same token you force the other teams to defend more. We’re forcing too many plays on our entries.”

“We have to backcheck. Every team is backchecking hard now. If you try plays in the middle, like we are, obviously your Corsi or your Fenway –Fenwick, I should say – won’t look good.”

The teams who lead the league in possession at the end of the season – informally known as “playoff teams” by those who are familiar with them – may in fact shoot from the redline.

They also shoot from bad angles. They also shoot from the circles, and from good angles. They do this because they have the puck and attempt shots. Which Roy admits the Avalanche do not, because their zone entries are too forced and predictable, which leads to them not having the puck. There’s a reason the Avalanche were third from the basement in shot attempts last season with a Corsi-for of 3,116.

This is what drives one batty when they hear Patrick Roy talk puck possession: He’s disparaging the notion that teams take low percentage shots attempts while at the same time saying his team needs to get more pucks at the net, which would naturally mean a higher Corsi.

Well, in theory.

The real issue with Colorado is that they surrendered 4,104 shot attempts last season at even strength, which was again third from the basement. Roy explains this away as a Hall of Fame goalie might:

“The scoring chances is what I’ll always look at, and I think we’re defending pretty well,” he said.

Which is why you get this track on Roy’s NHL coaching career, courtesy of Travis Yost of TSN:

That’s steep.

Finally, here’s an image of Patrick Roy after some reporter made a terrible joke about Corsi and Fenwick playing on Nathan MacKinnon’s line.


s/t Jason Brough