Wild West: Why Zone Starts are More Important Than You Think

Grant Campbell


I've long held the belief that Corsi is a bit of a flawed stat, which has been unfair for players who have offensive zone starts (OZ%) below 40 percent. As of games to November 20th, there were 116 players who had OZ starts below 40 percent. Of those 116 players only 14 players had a CF% over 50. There were 63 players with OZ starts below 35 percent and not one of those players had a CF% above 50. The players with zone starts less than 35 percent were doomed to fail.

In 2021-22 there were 92 players who played at least 26 NHL games and had OZ starts below 40 percent. There were 12 players with a CF% above 50. There were 42 players with OZ starts below 35 percent with five players having a CF% above 50. Those five were David Kampf and Ondrej Kase in Toronto and Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway and Carl Hagelin in Washington. Toronto had a high team CF% of 53.6 but Washington was just at 50.5 so whatever the Capitals did to tilt the ice for Dowd, Hathaway and Hagelin, they should have bottled it and sold it.

Last season, Mika Zibanejad (47.9) was the only player in the top 30 scoring leaders with less than 50 percent of starts in the OZ. The average was 58.6 percent for the top 30. You want players with high OZ starts on your fantasy teams.

Calgary leads the NHL as a team right now with 60.6 percent of their 5on5 starts being in the OZ while Arizona is last at 39.6 percent. How can we measure an individual stat, when it is influenced so heavily by the team you play on? We've had this long held belief that a player with a CF% above 50 is ok, but a player below is struggling.

Dobber's Frozen Tools has a Player Usage Chart under the Advanced Stats tab when looking at the individual players, which is a much better indicator of where players are at, but I'd love to see an adjusted Corsi number take some of what is mentioned here into account.

Expected goals for (xGF) and expected goals against (xGA) produce an expected goals for percentage and it is a little better than Corsi in my opinion but still an unfair statistic overall as players who start in the DZ are more likely to give up a chance against than a player who starts in the OZ or neutral zone. There are players with a 46 or 47 CF% who are doing just fine and there are players with a 52 or 53 CF% who are struggling on the better teams. We need to