Fancier Stats



By now, I’m sure all you hockey stats fanatics are familiar with Schrodinger’s Cat.

The scenario presents a cat that may be both alive and dead, this state being tied to an earlier random event.

Now, we all know that random events are the most likely events to occur in a hockey game…tip ins…deflections…bouncing pucks…broken sticks…bad passes…bad ice…hungover players…injured players…random events.

The problem is…random events cannot be quantified in any meaningful way so those trying to make some mathematical sense of the absolute chaos that is the wonderful game of hockey just ignore them and focus instead on whether the cat is alive or dead with no reference to the random events which make up the vast majority of what actually occurs in a hockey game and actually determine the health of the cat in almost every case.

I say all this on the same evening that the esteemed Bob McKenzie reveals that in his summertime interview with “Vic Ferrari” that the stat he espoused, “Corsi”, was so named because he was impressed with the former goalies moustache on the Buffalo Sabres’ website. That folks is a RANDOM EVENT and, in this case, the cat is alive (and, as we’ll see, dead at the same time).

Now, Jim Corsi had been tracking shots/blocked shots/missed shots for years as a means of determining how busy a goaltender was during a game. Ferrari decided to take those same metrics in an attempt to prove that Shawn Horcoff was a really good hockey player.

When that dream died, Ferrari faded away like Horcoff’s career (now a $5.5M 4th line winger for the Dallas Stars.)

But, in a strange twist of fate, Jim Corsi’s Moustache is now being used as a measure of individual player’s prowess in a team game which, in and of itself, is ridiculous but has been compounded by the use of Relative Corsi which is even more odious than the raw numbers.

All Relative Corsi measures is how much better an individual player (playing with 5 other team mates) is at advancing possession than the players on his team.

Which means a mediocre player on a shitty team might look like a superstar because his team mates are crap and a great player on a championship team might look mediocre. (See Drew Doughty for reference).

Which brings us to the latest edition of “Fancier Stats”.

The Toronto Star…long a publication that was, at best, agnostic on the stats movement in hockey has come out with a study which has tracked over the past 2 non-lockout seasons, what KIND of shots are most successful in the NHL.

Here’s the gist:

Three seasons ago, 892 slapshots went in, compared to 859 last year for roughly a four per cent drop. The slapshot was responsible for 12.8 per cent of goals in 2011-12, 12.2 per cent last season — when only 5.4 per cent of all slapshot attempts led directly to goals.

Scoring via the backhander was also down — 695 last season, compared to 776 in 2011-12 — but the success rate was greater, with 10.5 per cent winding up in the net.

By comparison, the success rate for deflected shots was 20.6 per cent. Others: tip-ins (19.3), snapshots (9.1 per cent), wrist shots (8.6 per cent) and wraparounds (6.7 per cent).


As we can see, the most successful types of shots, by a very wide margin, are deflected shots and tip ins…many of which could be classified as “random events” since very few players would tell you with a straight face that they tipped or deflected a shot perfectly into the upper right corner of the net.
Now, I think we can all agree with what coaches have been preaching for decades….“get the puck on the net” but suggesting there is anything “advanced” or fancy” about that is just poppycock.
Christ, go back and watch Howie Meeker from decades ago on HNIC and he was trumpeting exactly the same thing.
“Remember kids…shoot the puck!” or you’ll never find out if the cat is alive or dead or both.







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