INTRODUCING KORAB Grit Numbers – Kings-Sharks Game 1

Well, how depressing.

Game 1 of the Kings-Sharks series did not go the way the Kings had hoped. Instead of the return of the bruising, grinding, puck-possessing style of play synonymous with the Sutter-led Cup-era Kings, we saw a turnover-fest and the pulling of starting goalie Jonathan Quick.

So what happened?

Let’s look at the numbers.

Sure, we’ve all heard of analytics, commonly known as fancy stats. These advanced metrics like Corsi and Fenwick attempt to display the true value of a player by removing the seemingly arbitrary indicators that can be the cause of chance or manipulated by the level effectiveness of teammates. These stats attempt to remove coincidence, giving scientific validity to a players reliability.

But, like most uses of statistical analysis, advanced stats have their share of problems.






The obvious problem is that these stats do not measure what it means to be a hockey player. The character guys, the grit, the INTANGIBLES. Playing on a broken leg, bleeding from the head, loosing a bunch of teeth and not missing a shift. The team guys. Advanced stats do not measure the 20 guys that put on the sweater each night and what happens in the dressing room. Fancy stats cannot explain Ryan Reaves playing on an NHL roster.  We all joke about Brian Burke’s philosophy on team construction, but just look at the Broad Street Bullies, the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils, and more recently the hard-nosed 2012 Kings.

Well, you are in luck, because today we here at the The Royal Half introduce a new metric that will attempt to quantify a player’s grit, measure the intangibles, and get to the bottom of what it truly means to be a “team guy.” More importantly, it will gauge why the Kings struggled and why the Sharks excelled in last night’s game. As a result, you will be able to point the finger at the player or players that should be traded or released in the offseason (spoiler: Robyn Regehr, amiritefolks?!?!).

But first, let’s look at the past incarnations of these attempts to explain the importance of the “character” guys. Recently, SportsNet gave us the GRIT CHART to catalog the struggles of the Calgary Flames (as cataloged by Book of Loob).

As a result, lacking in a majority of the grit categories equals an ineffectiveness of the TEAM, and vice versa.

So, how do we know this is a somewhat effective chart in quantifying a team’s ability? Two major reasons:

1. SportsNet uses it

2. Calgary is bad in most GRIT categories, and Calgary is bad.

In theory, we should be able to apply this same information to individuals and find a similar result. Individuals who show poor grit numbers when compared to their peers over a large enough sample size are ineffective, not gritty, and do not have the intangibles needed on a hockey team.

So, let’s use last night’s Kings-Sharks game as an example:

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 1.09.13 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 1.09.28 PM

Of course, one game is not a fair example, but it gives a baseline of what to expect from this series. As you can see, Doughty appears all over the stat sheet while Williams was absent, and thus less effective. On the Sharks side, Demers, Sheppard, and Brown dominated team play, wearing down the opposition. Meanwhile, Torres played an intimidating game and was rewarded with a goal. Overall, the Kings did have more hits, but skill players like Brown, Kopitar, and Toffoli should not have to take on the lion’s share of the hits and still be expected to drive the game offensively. Martinez, Muzzin, and Nolan, on the other hand, performed poorly in this category. On the flip side, when the Kings did take a shot, the Sharks were blocking most of these opportunities, Boyle being the shining example for young players like Vlasic.

What this metric fails to show us is a full list of intangibles in a nice, compact number like Corsi or Fenwick. Sure Mike Richards had four hits, but he was silent on the rest of the grit chart. Does this make him ineffective?

Introducing the advanced statistic known as KORAB.


KORAB is named after Jerry Korab, former Kings, Blackhawks, Sabres, and Canucks defensemen known for his physical style of play in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Nicknamed “King Kong,” Korab spent sixteen seasons in the WHL and NHL, amassing 1,629 penalty minutes in 975 NHL games. Here is a taste of what you got when you messed with King Kong:

Also, look at this sweet ‘stache.



A five time NHL double-digit goal scorer, Korab, perhaps, embodies all that it means to be a gritty team player.


This metric measures all of the statistics available to quantify compete level. Basically, what we look at is those grit qualities commonly referred to as intangibles. Thus, we can truly determine a player’s motor and what it means to his team before looking at external factors like style of coaching, opponent ability, and teammate effectiveness.


The formula:

Hits + penalties taken + penalties drawn + blocked shots + eliminator + own blood
Even strength time on ice + shorthanded time + penalty minutes

Hits: this is an obvious inclusion. How much the player is willing to give up his body for the team.

Penalties taken: an odd stat on the surface, but attempts to measure the damage a player attempts to inflict on a teammate. The theory is that this overt breach of the rules lessens the effectiveness of the opponent by causing discomfort for the remainder of the game (i.e. a slashing penalty to the wrist will weaken the stick handling strength of that player).

Penalties drawn: how willing the player is to take on damage for the reward of a powerplay.

Blocked shots: giving up the body for the team.

Eliminator: a new stat, attempts to show aggressiveness. Causing an injury , or drawing blood to the opponent, means the opposing team loses one of their players and improves your team’s matchups.

Own blood: times the player bleeds. Toughness.

Shorthanded time: shows the willingness of the player to compete at a disadvantage.

Penalty minutes: included due to the same reasons of the penalties taken stat.


You remember how much of a monster Dustin Brown was during the 2012 Cup run? Let’s use him as an example.

In twenty games during the 2012 playoffs, Brown recorded 93 hits, 13 penalties taken, 16 penalties drawn, 18 blocked shots, 1 eliminator, and 0 own blood, which equals 141. He played 310.5 even strength minutes, 34.75 shorthanded minutes, and 34 penalty minutes in 20 games. That’s an average of 18.96.

Divide those two totals, and Brown has a KORAB number of 7.44.

Since this is a new metric, we will use this as a statistically significant baseline of a high KORAB number, and useful sample size.

Results of  Kings-Sharks Game One

So, who had the best and worst KORAB numbers for the Kings-Sharks? Let’s start with the statistical high points.

Pavelski had six hits and one blocked shot for a total of 7, which is a fairly rounded game.

12.4 even strength minutes, 2.5 shorthanded, and no penalty gives him a total of 14.9 for 1 game.

Pavelski KORAB: 7 ÷ 14.9 = 0.47

In contrast, Mike Richards had a poor performance on the grit chart. 4 hits, divided by 9.5 EV minutes and 0.8 SH min.

Richards KORAB: 4 ÷ 10.3 = 0.39

Thus, one game, statistically is not enough to measure the significance of the statistic. But, we can see Pavelski played a grittier game overall.

On the other hand, Raffi Torres, who scored a goal, had a much better KORAB game.

Torres KORAB: 1.03

Here are the individual player totals:

korab k





Williams provided no goals, and no KORAB, thus could have spent the night better off  by resting up.  And perhaps that’s what he did in Game 1.  Opponents of this stat will crap on the fact Joe Thornton has such a low KORAB, but let’s put one game in perspective: others like Burns and Torres drove the KORAB for this game for the Sharks.  Torres so much so that he compensated for the slow-motored Braun.

Meanwhile, Kopitar and Brown drove the game for the Kings, but Muzzin and Martinez are certainly not 2012’s version of Matt Greene and Rob Scuderi.  Even Willie Mitchell struggled to get up for this game.

In the interest of team average KORAB, it’s no surprise to those who have watched the Kings this year that they are a much grittier, harder-nosed, with more players willing to get to the dirty areas  and throw their body around.  And if you think the Kings got spanked in effort just by watching the game, remember they did dominate the third period, a time when the Sharks quit playing, a terrible quality among many of today’s hockey players.

Despite a terrible performance, there is little to be concerned about moving forward. The Kings are still the stronger, more determined team, but a cursory look at the numbers tells us that the Kings will need more effort out of their bottom lines for a full game in order to compete moving forward.

Numbers collected from ExtraSkater and NHL Stats

Flubber McGee is TRH's resident Kansas City correspondent, and has survived as a Kings fan long before the dawn of Internet streaming sites. He has seen the Kings win exactly zero non-exhibition games in person. Have you ever achieved enlightenment? Flubber has, because he once witnessed Kevin and Brett Westgarth fight in, and get kicked out of, the same game (they didn't fight each other, unfortunately). In addition to being a part of TRH, Flubber runs a Kansas City hockey blog. It's exactly what you think it is. You can follow Flubber McGee on Twitter @FlubberMcGee.