Oilers start is an important reminder that statistics don’t tell the full story

Statistics are a mainstay in sports. After first being used to analyze players in baseball, statistical analysis has also found its way into many sports, most notably hockey, football and basketball.  In fact, #fancystats are now so common in the hockey world that you will rarely read a hockey article that neglects to mention them.

Analyzing hockey players without statistics is like only using one eye.  You can still see, but you don’t get the full picture.  

This can go both ways.  Analyzing a player just with statistics is like only using your other eye.

However, I don’t weight traditional and statistical analysis equally.  I believe that statistics should be used to formulate about 60-70% of one’s opinion of a certain player, leaving 30-40% for traditional analysis.

Not all people share this view with me, which has led to a quite unfortunate view that some people hold, where statistics are weighted at 100%, and are used independently.  Statistics can be an incredible resource, but the should not be used without the company of the “eye test”, or traditional analysis.  Only looking at the statistical aspect can lead to misleading conclusions, such as the conclusion that the Matthews is not the best player on the Toronto Maple Leafs team, which I wrote about in a previous post, which can be found here, or that the Oilers are playing well so far in the 2017-18 season, the subject of this post.

Shot based statistics such as Corsi and Fenwick show that the Oilers are dominating, as they have 59% of all Corsi events and 60% of Fenwick events.  

These statistics tell a completely different story than anybody that has watched the games will tell.  The Oilers have looked disorganized and just plain bad so far, a view that many others share.

Jason Gregor, Oilersnation: “The Oilers aren’t losing due to a lack of talent.  They have enough skill to compete, but not enoug talent to overcome the hideous mistakes they’ve been making.

Bad reads
Ill-advised pinching
A porous penalty kill
Sub-par goaltending
Inability to score from in close.”
(Article)

Jason Gregor is a smart man, and this excerpt sums things up well.  There is a simple message in the pair of paragraphs; the Oilers are making too many costly mistakes. It’s as simple as that.  It doesn’t matter if they are vastly out shooting their opponents, if they can’t cut down on these mistakes, they will not even come close to making the playoffs.

There is no statistic that measures costly mistakes, which is exactly why statistics should not be the only factor taken into account when analyzing a player.  

If statistics cannot account for something that can have such a huge impact on a game as a mistake that leads to a goal, statistics should not be used exclusively to analyze a player.

A common and perfectly valid belief in the #fancystats community is that it is foolish to judge a player solely based on what you see.  This would be perfectly fine, but many statistical analysts exclusively use statistics to evaluate performance, which, in my opinion, is just as bad.

Both allow you to formulate valid opinions about a player’s skill and performance, but when combined, that opinion becomes more informed and more powerful than before.

You would never use just one eye to view something.  Do the same with this.

Remember:

Statistical Analysis = valid opinion

Traditional Analysis = valid opinion

Statistical Analysis + Traditional Analysis = Powerful, informed opinion

Don’t limit yourself to just one eye.

Use both.

Three NHL Teams That Will Make A Serious Run For The STANLEY Cup in 2017/18

With NHL training camps underway this week hockey fans can start to make their predictions. Last year the Penguins skated, to their second straight Stanley Cup .A seven game hard fought series over Nashville. The Predators were one , of the most surprising teams in the NHL last season.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The start of training camp means every team gets a fresh new start. During the summer teams retooled and got ready for the upcoming season. Three teams to keep an eye on are Edmonton, Dallas, and Boston. Dallas and Edmonton  were very active this past off season.For the Bruins they were fairly quiet. Boston was busy negotiating a long term deal for David Pastrnak. Still no deal has yet to be announced.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Dallas was the busiest team this off season. The Stars added veteran goalie Ben Bishop. Bishop. Bishop was traded to LA at the trade deadline,but ended up signing with Dallas this summer. The Stars will have great depth at goaltending ,as Bishop and KariLehtonen will split the time. The biggest move was signing long time NHL coal Ken Hitchcock to a contract. Hitchcock’s experience will greatly help Dallas.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With captain Jamie Benn,and Tyler Sguin the Stars should be much better than their 34-37 and 70 point record. Hitchcock has the experience  to mold the Stars into a playoff team. Along with Bishop , Dallas acquired defenseman center Martin Hanzal,and forward Tyler Pitlick.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Edmonton is another team to keep an eye  on. The Oilers rewarded star center Connor Mc David to an eight year 100 million dollar deal. Mc David was was one of the leagues best players last year. The Oilers selected McDavid number one overall in 2015 Mc David and teammate Leon Draisaitl  together make the Oilers a very scary team.                                                                                                                                                                                                   General manager Peter Chairelli has got the Oilers back to respectability in just three years.If the Oilers can play solid defense in front of goalie Cam Talbot they will be a team to challenge the Penguins in the playoffs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Boston under first year head coach Bruce Cassidy is another team that will surprise a lot of fans. Currently the Bruins are in negotiations with star forward David Pastrnak. If the Bruins can sign Padtrnak theycould be one of the biggest stories in hockey. The Bruins have a strong goaltender in Tukka Rask. The Bruins also have one of the youngest teams in the league.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After losing in the opening round last year to Ottawa gained valuable playoff experience. The Bruins are led by number one pick Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy joins a host of young talent such as Brandon Carlo, Jakub Zboril Austin Czarnik, Sean Kuraly, Rob O’Gara, Noel Accari , Frank Vatrano. If Cassidy can mold the veterans, with the young players the Bruins could be serious contenders in 2017/18.