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Measuring Puck Possession - vs Boston - 30/11/11 & 03/12/2011

The latest installment of my puck possession series here at Pension Plan Puppets looks at the two games the Toronto Maple Leafs played against the Boston Bruins this week. The Leafs fared pretty well in the first game, before getting completely dominated in the second game. I'll be taking a look at each of the games separately here.

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If you're not familiar with how this works, what I'm doing is measuring how long each team has control of the puck in the offensive zone over the course of the game. I mark the beginning of a possession as the time at which the attacking team first gains clear control of the puck in the offensive zone, and I mark the end of a possession as either the time when the puck leaves the zone, or when a defender gains clear control of the puck and is not under significant forechecking pressure. I call the resulting statistic Time On Attack (TOA). After looking for insights in the numbers themselves, I compare them to other statistics like Corsi to see how well they line up.

I've made one change this time around, which is to switch the ratios I've used in the past to percentages here, which I think might make some of the data a bit easier to follow. Follow me after the jump to see how the numbers shake out.

First off, here are the raw TOA numbers for the game played on Wednesday:


Toronto Boston
1st Period 02:39 04:35
2nd Period 04:11 03:25
3rd Period 05:08 02:57
Total 11:58 10:57

Toronto comes off looking reasonably good here. It was a game they were well within range of winning until the last 5 minutes or so of the game, and the numbers here reflect that. Boston may have played in a bit of a shell in the 3rd period, but on the whole it was a close, exciting game to watch and the numbers here bear that out.

Let's take a look at how the Time On Attack numbers compare to some other statistics:

TOA 52.2%
Corsi 49.5%
Fenwick 49.4%

The numbers here aren't as close as they have been in some of the other games, but they're still pretty close; a difference of under 3% like we're seeing here is only a handful of shot attempts worth of difference. All three stats say that the game was pretty tightly contested, which I think most people who watched the game would agree with.

Taking a look at the second game, things start to get pretty ugly:


Toronto Boston
1st Period 03:15 04:18
2nd Period 02:42 04:04
3rd Period 01:47 09:51
Total 07:44 18:13

The Leafs were never really in this one from a puck possession standpoint. Not only that, but things actually get worse as the game goes on. By the third frame, the Bruins were getting 85% of all Time On Attack, roughly 5 seconds in the Leafs' zone for every 1 second the Leafs had in the Bruins' zone. Looking at my individual shift count paints a pretty grim picture - in the final 14:38 of the game, the Leafs had just two shifts in the Bruins' zone that lasted longer than 6 seconds; of those 2 shifts, one was the final 8 seconds of the game. In fact, the period was so bad for the Leafs that the Bruins had just one attacking zone shift, at 1:42, that virtually equalled the Leafs' entire TOA for the entire period.

The Corsi and Fenwick data have a pretty big divergence from the TOA data here:

TOA 29.8%
Corsi 42.4%
Fenwick 41.0%

The Corsi and Fenwick data looks pretty bad, but not nearly as bad as the TOA data. If anything, the Leafs were lucky that they didn't get beat by a wider margin than the one they actually lost by. The Bruins only out-shot the Leafs 11-4 in the final frame, surprisingly. Whether that could be attributed to the Leafs doing a good job of keeping the Bruins away from good scoring areas or whether the Bruins just decided to hold on to the puck as long as possible, I couldn't say

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

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