Advanced Statistics: Get educated.

Jack Johnson - the biggest fraud in the NHL? Image courtesy of stickswordsandsticks.blogspot.com.

Jack Johnson – the biggest fraud in the NHL? Image courtesy of stickswordsandsticks.blogspot.com.

For those of you who are interested in learning about advanced statistics, or have seen mentions of things like Corsi and PDO on this blog and wondered “what the hell is that about, geek”, this article about the origins of the most common advanced stat (Corsi)  from Jesse Spector at Sporting News is very interesting reading.  A lot of people tend to brush off advanced statistics as unnecessary and not applicable to a free-flowing sport like hockey, but this piece will really help you realise how the application of these statistics is very informative about the performance of a particular player or team.

Furthermore, these statistics are gleaned ultimately not from pouring over spreadsheets filled with data, but in actual fact from someone meticulously watching the games to track all the on-ice actions (shots, zone-entries etc.).  This runs counter to the popular opinion that people should “just watch the game”; statisticians are watching the games, they are simply watching it at a more microcosmic level.  This article by the brilliant Jonathan Willis, “Statistics Are Dumb”, is also a fantastic defence of the way stats are obtained and used.

This is not to say that what you see on the ice in the course of just regularly watching a game isn’t without merit – it is – just as one shouldn’t solely rely on statistics to judge performance.  They are best used in conjunction with each other, and more often than not will be in agreement with each other.

And you will be able to see why Jack Johnson really, really sucks.

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