Statistical analysis in sports always seems to be met with a lot of intrigue or backlash depending on who you ask. There are some who embrace a more analytical approach to the game while others find this stuff to be hogwash and a waste of time. Some of the detractors go as far to say that they have no place in sports and no one cares about them.
While stats are likely an afterthought to most players, they do have their place in the game and they have come a long way over the last decade or so. Hockey is still behind the curve compared to baseball, basketball, soccer and football, but it's not completley irrelevant. There are some teams & coaches who use analytics when making decisions, so this isn't something that only appeals to nerds in their parent's basements.
Still, I feel that statistics in sports are very polarizing because there is a belief that it's impossible to quantify everything that happens in a hockey game. It's true that the game moves very fast and it's difficult to catch every event, but it's silly to disregard analytics simply because of that. I've always thought that statistics are a way to enhance one's analysis of the game because relying on the eye-test alone can be just as deceiving. The human mind is very selective and one is more likely to remember the noteworthy events of a game rather than everything that happened.
For instance, a defenseman might create a brutal turnover that leads to a goal against and this might cause a lot of spectators to believe that this player is terrible and cringe every time he has the puck in the future. They might forget that he also made a lot of good plays to exit the zone, deny a scoring chance or keep a puck in at the blue line to help set up a scoring chance or a goal for his team. Stuff like that is typically missed by the casual fan and taking a closer look at the game through analytics can help catch events such as this. It may not be everyone's cup of tea and that's fine, but they are worth taking into consideration.
However, as helpful as analytics can be, they can also be really overwhelming to someone who is completely new to them. That's mostly because there is a lot to sports analytics and it definitely takes some practice and a lot of understanding for those to use them correctly. Stats are often misused and misinterpreted because of this and it seems to be growing now with more people discovering sites like Behind the Net & Hockey Analysis. It's great that this is catching on, but I still think a lot of people make a lot of assumptions about certain hockey statistics and don't put a lot of thought into them other than what they are at face value.
As someone who uses analytics in basically every blog post, I've been planning on writing a guide/overview of hockey stats and how to use them for quite some time now. Unfortunately, time constraints has prevented me from doing so and a lot of other great bloggers have written their own guides on this subject. Each of those are well-done and worth reading, so I won't bother copying them. Instead, what I'm going to do is give newcomers a few tips on how to use these "advanced stats" to make the learning process somewhat easier. Stats only mean so much at face value, but how you interpret and utilize them can really mean a lot.no comments