The Vancouver Canucks and Henrik Sedin stirred up the Corsi-pot a bit on Wednesday afternoon, just one day after falling behind 3-1 in their first-round series against Calgary.
"Corsi doesn't win you games," he said. "We know that."
To me, the quote is interesting from a couple of different perspectives. Firstly, he's right - simply winning the shot-attempt battle doesn't guarantee success. Goaltending and special teams, for example, are hugely important in the postseason. Two, there's a bit of irony in the quote. Let me expand.
Sedin, like many others I'm sure, is frustrated with the fact that Vancouver's territorial advantage has only left them with a series deficit. Consider both the shot attempts and scoring chances for each team in the series through the first four games, adjusted for score effects:
|TEAM||SHOT ATTEMPT%||SCORING CHANCE%|
There's obviously a gap between Vancouver's possession game and their ability to out-chance their opponents, but by either metric, Vancouver still comes out ahead. However, like alluded to earlier, Calgary's getting the better end of the other elements of the game - their goaltending's been better, and they're ahead in special teams goal differential, too.
But, let's jump back to those possession and scoring chance numbers for a minute - mostly because I think they're a touch misleading. Heading into the playoffs, I thought that Calgary's best chance at knocking off Vancouver was by (a) bottling up the Sedins as much as possible; and (b) feasting on the Canucks when the Sedins came off of the ice.
So, how are items (a) and (b) playing out? Let's take a look.
The disparities are shocking, truly. Look, even the best of players have trouble going head-to-head with the Sedin line, and Calgary shouldn't be an exception. For the most part, when the twins have been playing at five-on-five, the Flames have been beaten up pretty convincingly. And, just in case you are curious about whether or not the above has translated to goals - well, Calgary hasn't scored yet with the Sedins on the ice.
That said, the right part of the graph is just as telling. The Flames, who have rarely out-shot or out-chanced teams this year and have relied heavily on strong goaltending and their counterattacking style, are winning the possession battle against Vancouver's second through fourth lines. For as great as the Sedins have expectedly been, their depth has been comparatively brutal. Players like David Jones, Michael Ferland, Matt Stajan, and Josh Jooris have fantastic underlying numbers from every aspect, and not surprisingly, have seen very little of the Sedins in this series.
So, is Calgary playing better than we anticipated, or was Vancouver just the perfect first-round draw for Bob Hartley's team? Perhaps a little bit of both. It's hard to deny that Calgary's depth is just overwhelming Vancouver's, but it's also hard to ignore the fact that Vancouver - no hindsight needed - looked like one of the weakest teams to reach the postseason.
As for the Canucks, it's another reminder of a window that continues to close on a team that ran roughshod through the Western Conference for years. Don't blame the Sedins, though - even at the age of 34, they're a pretty unstoppable force. They just no longer have the requisite help filling out the roster to get them through against tougher competition.
In the playoffs, that's a death sentence for even the greatest of talents.