The main stat we're using here is Corsi On, which is directly defining the number of shots created versus shots against.
A statistic originally invented by Jim Corsi, who was the goaltender coach for the Buffalo Sabres. Corsi is essentially a plus-minus statistic that measures shot attempts. A player receives a plus for any shot attempt (on net, missed, or blocked) that his team directs at the opponent's net, and a minus for any shot attempt against his own net. A proxy for possession. - as defined by hockeyprospectus.com
- numbers calculated at Behindthenet.ca
So what do these possession numbers tell us about the team so far? Corsi doesn't necessarily do a great job, because it doesn't factor in goals. Rostislav Olesz is at the top of that list, but he doesn't have a goal, but Damien Brunner has three goals and is ranked twelfth.
What the Corsi rating DOES do well is show how much more production their is in the offensive end, versus how many shots are being given up at the other end. Basically, for all of the shots that an offensive player is helping to create, are they backchecking enough to limit opportunities the other way.
Take for example this number. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who are currently in first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 7-2 record have only seven players with a double digit CorsiOn rating, whereas the Devils have eleven players in double digits.
So what does this all mean?
These numbers actually point out that the Devils are in some ways dominating play. They have quite a few players who are generating more shots for than against when they are on the ice. Usually, that would be a good indication that they are scoring goals.
The Devils have scored 18 goals in nine games, which of course works out to an even 2 goals for, per game. That number is the fourth lowest in the league as of October 23rd.
It's quite interesting that Olesz is leading the team in Corsi. He has been good via a simple eye test, but the numbers show that the team is creating a lot mores shots for than against when he is on the ice. To put it in perspective, Sidney Crosby's CorsiOn is 27.26, not that big of a gap.
A few other points:
- Marek Zidlicky has been creating a lot of offense this season and it shows. He, Andy Greene and Anton Volchenkov all have a strong number, which certainly points to their defensive play, as well. Peter Harrold, for as shaky as he's been at times, is actually fourth on the team. This rating would actually suggest that Harrold is playing very well.
- The numbers of Bryce Salvador, Adam Larsson and Mark Fayne are quite low as well. Corsi probably does a better job at pointing out defensive play than it does even with offense, because shots for doesn't necessarily mean anything positive, but shots against is a clear indication of defensive play.
- Something to point out though is that these numbers are at 5 on 5 only. They'd be drastically different if the power play and penalty kill were involved.
- Young players such as Brunner, Andrei Loktionov and Mattias Tedenby all have lower numbers too. Tedenby's is by far the worst on the team at a -24.00, so perhaps all of the issues that have plagued him in his career are still there. With a number that low, not only is he not creating offense when he's on the ice, but he's giving up a large number of shots as well.
So what do these numbers REALLY tell us? As much as it is a strong metric to determine possession and shots, the eye test can't just be thrown out. The fact that the 2012 Carter-Gionta-Bernier line all had a negative Corsi rating says a lot.
What we have learned is that there are certain players on this team who are producing far more attempts for than against. Whether it's due to shots for, or just good backchecking/defense, there is a clear divide between who is usually backchecking and who is not.