When you open a hockey season deeply focused on a single team, the rest of the league becomes a subject of rumour and innuendo and likely misleading standings points. The real context to measure the one team against is missing.

The whole league is a mass of random events taking prominence in providing goals and therefore standings points at this point, so for this early season nose around, I'm going to stick closer to home. Just the Atlantic and ignoring win/loss record almost entirely. I have an ulterior motive that I'll get to later. First the teams.

Boston Bruins

With six games played, the Bruins are sixth in CF% and xG% (All values are at even strength unless otherwise noted. Clan Corsi numbers are from Evolving Hockey.) Their Expected Goals For is very good, second in the league, and their against is good enough at 12th.

I'm going to introduce another number here to consider as we go along. The Zone Time numbers from NHL Edge show the percentage of time the puck spends in each of the three zones. I'm going to take the OZ and DZ numbers and calculate a single % just from those. I'll call this OD% for brevity. The obvious point here is to see how it lines up with the Clan Corsi percentages that are shot based. Boston's is 51.05%

The Boston PP is not very good, with an Expected Goals For rate 24th in the NHL and less than half of what the top team (the Penguins) are producing.

Of note, HockeyViz agrees the PP is horrible, but has the offence good and the defence outstanding. So that's two xG models that seem to conflict. HockeyViz aligns to the zone time percentages more closely. Part of this effect is that no one has outstanding unsustainable offence, but a lot of teams are good at similar values, while the other end of the spectrum has some truly horrible performances to date. Since HV shows relative to league average, no one is very far above that line offensively.

Also of note the Bruins' even-strength Save % is .958 and is second in the NHL.

Conclusion: They're dominating in shotshare, and winning by limiting goals against. Their goalies are their stars and they need to fix their PP.

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres are 17th in CF% at 51.1 and 25th in xG% at 46.5. Their OD% is 48.69. Their Expected Goals For rate is 26th and the Against is about league average at 18th. Their For rate on the PP is 21st. Their even-strength Save % is also very bad – 25th in the NHL.

HockeyViz has them very good defensively, and so bad offensively, the first part doesn't matter with a desperately bad PP.

Conclusion: They don't have the puck much, they don't shoot much and their goalies are making it worse.

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings are 27th in CF% at 45.6, 21st in xG% at 48.7, and their OD% is 49. Their Expected Goals For is league average at 15th, and their Against is a small amount below that at 23rd. The difference between 13th and 23rd is fairly small in xGA. Their PP xG pace is good, at 9th. Their even-strength Save% is just below average at 20th, with .912.

HockeyViz has them almost identical to the Sabres, good defensively, hopeless offensively, but with a gently good PP.

Conclusion: They don't have the puck much, they don't shoot much, and their goalies are getting results just good enough to make them a team that can get wins on defence and some shooting skill.

Would you rather be lucky or good? How about both?

Florida Panthers

The Panthers are 10th in CF% with 53.5, 11th in xG% with 53, and their OD% is 52.5. Their Expected Goals For is 21st and well below average, while their Against is fourth best in the league at a likely unsustainably low number. Their PP xG rate if fourth at a number that seems plausible. Their even-strength Save% is sixth at a lovely .942.

HockeyViz has them Sabres/Red Wings like offensively with a defence that is almost perfect. No one shoots from the slot against the Panthers.

Conclusion: They win on their team defensive systems. They really are the team that keeps the shots to the outside, and they also control the puck a lot, get a lot of zone time and do very little with it. If they start generating even average levels of offence, they will challenge for the top of the division.

Montréal Canadiens

The Canadiens are 22nd in CF% with 48, 24th in xG% with 48, and their OD% is 46.7. Their Expected Goals For is good, at a bit above league average for 11th place, and their Against is 29th and right in with Chicago, San Jose and a shockingly placed Tampa Bay. Their PP xG rate is bad at 27th. Their even-strength Save% is tops in the NHL at .961.

HockeyViz has them with a gently good defensive value and a bad offence. This is a wildly different from EH as with Boston. HV agrees the PP is dreadful, though.

Conclusion: Their goalies are stealing games and it's not going to last.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators are 14th in CF% with 51.7, 22nd in xG with 48.5 and their OD% is 51. Their Expected Goals For is 24th and their against is 14th. Their PP xG rate is 16th or just okay. Their even-strength Save% is terrible at .893, worst in the division and 27th in the NHL.

HockeyViz has them good defensively and offensively bad, but not as bad as some others above. They agree the PP is meh.

Conclusion: Ottawa doesn't have a lot of shooting skill so they need systems that are solid, and they're just too dull offensively. Their goalies will not continue to give away games like they have been, but this is not a playoff team.

Tampa Bay

The Lightning have been terrible, and no one seems to notice. They are 25th in CF% with 45.7, 31st in xG% with 39.7 and their OD% is 49. Their Expected Goals For rate is 31st, the same ranking as their Against. Their PP is still normal at 5th in xG rate, and their even-strength Save% is 22nd at .905. That's a shockingly good result considering who their goalies are right now.

Hockey Viz has them spectacularly bad offensively. Their shoots from the slot look like they play the Panthers every night. Their defence is just ordinary bad.

Conclusion: How have they won a single game? Nikita Kucherov, I guess. But a hot shooter can only take you so far.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs are meh at CF% with 50.5 at 18th place. The xG% is 53.7 at 9th place and the OD% is 52.3. This has been a thing lately, that the Leafs are capable of around average or a little above in gross shotshare but have better quality for and against. Their Expected Goals For rate is 5th and the Against is 15th. Their PP xG rate is 12th – okay, but not inspiring. The even-strength Save% is 23rd and .905.

HockeyViz has them at meh offence and good defence in a league where most good teams are spectacular defensively right now. They have the PP as eh, not bad.

Conclusion: The goalies have been bad (yes, I know it's that one guy) and the PP is underperforming. I think the offence is fine in rate but could stand to penetrate the slot more (yes, I know, phrasing). Any defensive problems are coverage breakdowns, not overall impact of defensive systems.

Zone Time vs Corsi

The obvious ulterior motive was to compare the Edge zone time to CF%.

Team OD% CF% xG%
Tampa Bay 49 45.7 39.7
Buffalo 48.69 51.1 46.5
Montréal 46.7 48 48
Ottawa 51 51.7 48.5
Detroit 49 45.6 48.7
Florida 52.5 53.5 53
Toronto 52.3 50.5 53.7
Boston 51.05 54.7 55

It sort of lines up, and sometimes doesn't.

I would be fascinated to see a robust analysis of team zone time numbers. To get them, you'd need either a level of dedication to hand collection of information I don't have or the desire to build a complex scraper that can run a session and click on boxes to get to the desired numbers. I'll leave that to someone else (read the TOS first.)

But surely some curious and industrious person wants to know how this measure matches up with Corsi over a season, and if it shows the same level of correlation to winning. This is an opportunity to do some original research on new data. If you want a place to publish it, let me know.