Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Scoring isn’t down, Corsi isn’t dead

Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Scoring isn’t down, Corsi isn’t dead

[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.] 

7. “Scoring is down boo hoo hoo”

The NHL's league leader in points this season had 87 points and this is apparently the worst thing that ever happened to anyone in league history.

Look, the average number of goals scored in NHL games this season was 5.46, which is obviously only about 2.73 per team per game. And that's not a lot. But what it is, is it's in line with the levels seen in each of the last four seasons (2.74 per team per game, 2.72, 2.73). So why all the grumbling this year? Well, obviously the fact that Benn won the scoring title without breaking 90 points. It was the lowest total for a non-lockout season since 1967-68, when Stan Mikita led the league with 87, but they only played 72 back then.

So this was, you can safely say, the worst season for individual scoring in league history. But you have to look at a lot of factors beyond just screaming “EIGHTY-SEVEN POINTS” to a cold, dead world. This is actually a case of stars scoring less, and non-stars scoring more. Because again, the league average goals per game is essentially unchanged, but this year's leader in points per game (Sidney Crosby at 1.091) would have only finished fifth in that category last season. Tyler Seguin was second in the league, at 1.085 points per game. Benn was third, Patrick Kane fourth, John Tavares fifth. And what do most of those players have in common? They missed time. Crosby sat out five games, Seguin 11, Kane 21. Add those guys back into the mix and there's a lot more apparent scoring at the top of the league.

There's also the fact that the number of penalties being called league-wide has been on a slow but steady decline for years now, but this year's was precipitous.

Scoring
Scoring

See if you can guess which year was the post-lockout season, when there was such an emphasis on calling penalties that the games took seven hours to complete and every game finished 6-5 in a shootout. Was the league good then? More exciting? Better? Or was everyone just complaining about too many calls affecting outcomes?

I don't know what a good number of goals in a game is. I don't know an ideal minimum number of points for the Art Ross winner to have. I do know that hockey is still good to watch unless this is the kind of thing irrelevant dinosaurs cry about as they write another article about reducing goalie pad size and making the nets bigger.

6. Barricading Darryl Sutter out of the dressing room

Oh sure, that figures. The players decide to lock someone out and all of a sudden it's a bunch of B.S. We're not allowed to talk about.

5. “Corsi is dead!!!!”

So the Kings and Bruins missed the playoffs, which offers another chance for the people who like to talk about how corsi numbers aren't “predictive” to weigh in with their easily disproven, years-old arguments. You're right, the Kings are the first team to lead the league in corsi and not make the playoffs since the implementation of the shootout, and the Flames are the worst team in that same time to get in. It totally disproves all the other years where that didn't happen.

Here's a list of every team in the league sorted by corsi percentage for this season. The blue line denotes the top 16 teams in the league.

Corsi
Corsi

Boy there's a lot of green check marks above that blue line, and a lot of red X's below it. I wonder if those things are in any way related. And indeed, two of the green checks at the bottom were still above water in terms of driving play, which is noteworthy. Two more got amazing season-long goaltending performances, and the other two were Vancouver and Calgary, playing in a pathetic division and getting a lot of bounces to go their way.

In fact, do you want to guess the average PDO of the teams below it that made the playoffs, versus the teams above that didn't? It's 100.9 (average rank of 8.8) to  99.3 (with an average league rank of 21.5).

So no, not luck or anything. Clearly evidence that corsi is bad and wrong.

(And look, as unsustainable as the success most teams below that line had — cough Calgary cough — they at least made it through the whole season and got into the playoffs, improbable as it might have been. Congrats I guess. The lesson, though, is not to count on this kind of thing happening again going forward.)

4. Conspiracy theories

The Draft Lottery is on Saturday night and it's going to be a kind of mega-ultra-monstrous big deal.

The Sabres are guaranteed to get the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick, but after that nothing is guaranteed. And already we're starting to see stuff about “The Kings missed the playoffs so the lottery is going to be rigged for them” (because what a two-time Cup winner needs is Connor McDavid), or “The Bruins missed the playoffs and the league will thank Jeremy Jacobs for the lockouts with a lottery win” (because they need the help).

There's not going to be a frozen envelope or a heated ping pong ball. The odds are pretty good that, like, Arizona or Buffalo is going to win. And even if they don't, it's not going to be Ballghazi or Lottergate, it's going to be random chance that led to the team that finished 23rd cashing in on its 6 percent chance.

Take it easy, folks.

3. Firing everyone

Dave Nonis and Co. in Toronto was an untenable situation for many reasons, not including all the losing that would have led to an inevitable firing even if there was agreement on organizational philosophy and approach, which there was very much not.

But this was, as we all know, a long time coming. The second Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter and the analytics department, you knew that the clock was ticking. All Brendan Shanahan needed was a year to get his ducks in a row and an excuse, and that excuse was the complete and utter debacle of a season the Maple Leafs just went through.

The Salute Incident, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf going in on the media, Joffrey Lupul never being too injured to complain about something, Nazem Kadri getting suspended for being 15 minutes late to practice. And so on. It's a long list of stuff for which any one instance should have been embarrassing for an organization to suffer. Let alone all nine-dozen.

The coaching staff had to go because it was comprised of an interim guy and a bunch of assistants who don't know what corsi is. The amateur scouts had to be let go because, well...

Toronto was an organization set back immeasurably by Nonis and the long-gone Randy Carlyle, and now the process of actually building a good and effective organization can begin in earnest.

But at least Nonis will always have that Clarkson trade. (Because Columbus came up with the idea. And because he signed the awful deal in the first place.)

2. Another year of Jagr

Jaromir Jagr is amazing. I love that he wants to play until he's 50. And here's the thing: It might be possible. Look at the averages for the 100 closest comparables — via War on Ice — for the season he put up at 42 and 43 years old. He's playing like a man almost 15 years his junior.

NHL
NHL


Which means he just might have another seven or eight more years in him. He's in amazing shape, and his game is predicated on getting the puck and sticking his big ol' butt out and using his wingspan to keep it away from everyone else. Vision doesn't deteriorate in this league, hands and feet do. He's well past the point where that's going to matter. He might put up fewer goals, but the assists numbers and possession are always going to be there.

Long live Jagr.

1. This comic

Molly Brooks really killed it with this one, a history of the Stanley Cup.

(Not ranked this week: Making playoff predictions.

They're stupid in years that aren't this hard to call. This season they're really stupid. Don't get mad about them because nobody should care. Great. Thanks.)

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