Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/21/14 at 07:11 AM ET
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
On the night I first began to question advanced statistics in hockey, the stats man who sits a few seats down from me in the press box began regurgitating the game in numbers.
Mikhail Grabovski, he said, was the best Leaf that night. According to the numbers, Jay McClement was the worst.
About an hour earlier, when a colleague asked for advice on who to pick as his three stars for the next day’s newspaper, we both bypassed Grabovski, neither of us liking his rather singular game that night, and talked about the value of McClement, who had been particularly strong both defensively and killing penalties.
When I asked the stats man about the discrepancy between what we’d seen and what the numbers showed, he answered: “Sample size.”
That always seems to be the answer when the numbers don’t match what a discerning eye can see....
The statistics indicate Crosby had a fine playoffs. Crosby, himself, would disagree with the numbers. The stats people will tell you the game must adjust to the statistics but, really, the stats need to adjust to the game.
The game hasn’t changed all that much, other than speed and length of shift. The voices of analytics haven’t invented a new game, only a new way to look at it.
There is a place for what they do — just not a defining one. The game, through these eyes, is too free-flow, too incidental and accidental, too promiscuous to be naturally or easily analyzed with math.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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