Continuing what I started with the Toronto - Phoenix game on Tuesday night, last night I tracked puck possession in the Toronto - Nashville game. There are two goals behind this, the first of which is to see if any interesting information can be gleaned from the possession data itself, and the second of which is to see how closely the possession data matches up with Corsi and Fenwick data. The idea behind using Corsi is that, in the absence of puck possession numbers, shots are a decent proxy for possession. I'm trying to test that theory out.
A brief description of what exactly I'm doing, in case you missed it the first time around: I'm measuring the start of a possession as the point at which the attacking team clearly gains control of the puck in the offensive zone. I'm measuring the end of a possession as the point at which either the puck leaves the zone, or the defending team is in clear control of the puck without significant forechecking pressure being placed on the defender with the puck. I add up all instances of these possessions each period, and then combine them for the full-game total. This data is only for even strength situations (not including time with the goalie pulled), and I call it Time On Attack (TOA). I'm separately measuring powerplay possession time as well.
Here are the results for last night's game:
For the second straight night, Toronto won the TOA battle in all three periods. The second period was basically the same for each team, but Toronto won the first and third periods by a margin of roughly 2:1. Toronto's TOA was about a minute and a half less than they had against Phoenix, but they also reduced their time defending by a minute and a half as well. I don't think this is an accident either. Nashville has low possession numbers because they play a very safe game, where forwards dump and chase on almost every attacking shift. This reduces their TOA because they can't always recover the puck, but it also reduces their time defending because their forwards are typically in good position to backcheck. The Leafs, on the other hand, almost never dump and chase, preferring to skate the puck into the zone, giving them more TOA. It's possible that I'm reading too much into one game, but I think each team's strategy is reflected in their numbers here.
Now let's take a look at how this information lines up with our other statistics:
Here we have a bit of a reversal from what we saw against Phoenix. The TOA and Fenwick ratios are virtually identical, off by less than one percent. The Corsi ratio is a bit further off, but it's still only a 2% difference. To give you some idea of how close that is, to bring the Corsi and TOA ratios together, you only need to add about 2.5 shot attempts to the Predators' total. The difference we're talking about here is very minor.
To finish things off, here's the powerplay data: the Leafs had puck possession in the offensive zone for 1:56. Incredibly, the Leafs spent 87% of their available powerplay time in the attacking zone, double their result from the previous game. The Predators spent 2:28 on attack on the powerplay, just 50% of the available time. This result is pretty similar to the percent of PP time the Leafs allowed the Panthers in Tuesday's game.