Earlier this afternoon at Senators practice, Paul MacLean unveiled his latest line combinations. The following trios were used: Greening-Speza-Alfredsson; Foligno-Turris-Condra; Smith-Regin-Neil; and Daugavins-Konopka-Winchester. None of the beat reporters that cover the Senators made mention of where Bobby Butler was, so I’ll just assume that he was in one of thahhh cohhhnahhs* sobbing. (Note: * the last sentence fragment should be read with a New England accent.)
Looking at the Foligno, Turris and Condra trio on paper, it doesn’t appear to be too sexy. In their respective careers, Foligno’s career high in points is 34 and Condra put up 11 points in 26 games last season. This season, both players are poised to set career highs: Foligno has 10 goals and 20 points in 33 games while Condra has four goals and 10 points in one less game.
Although these are modest production levels, the one thing that has me intrigued is the fact that these three players have posted some relatively good Corsi metric numbers. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Corsi, Arctic Ice Hockey describes it as:
The Corsi Number is the shot differential while a player was on the ice. This includes not just goals and shots on goal, but also shots that miss the net, and in some formulations, blocked shots. In other words, it’s the differential in the total number of shots directed at the net.
This metric was presumably adopted by the Sabres because it’s a better indicator of a team’s play than goals for and against, which are highly-driven by factors outside of a team’s control. Shot volume is much more a function of a team’s ability, and a much better predictor of future performance than goal-scoring metrics – in other words, there is basically no such thing as a team that shoots efficiently, just teams that get a lot of shots on goal…or not. Tyler Dellow has much more on this subject here. And Vic Ferrari discusses the “consistency” that underlies goal scoring, scoring chances and the Corsi Number.
When looking at the Senators team this season, it’s easy to notice that Erik Condra has the fourth highest relative Corsi rating (8.1) amongst forwards on the team and Foligno’s not too far behind him either (3.4). Turris’ sample size of six games this season is too small to draw anything from but he did have the second highest relative Corsi (9.9) amongst Coyotes forwards last season.
While watching Turris’ debut tomorrow night, keep an eye on this line’s ability to generate and maintain puck possession. Hopefully we’ll see a number of examples of Foligno and Condra doing their dirty work along the boards to feed Turris and take advantage of his release.