Kukla's Korner

Plus/Minus stat is more minus than plus

Plus/Minus is getting quite the rundown today as a junk hockey stat.  First, Dave Staples of the Edmonton Journal got us started:

The NHL’s official plus/minus stat is one of the most discussed individual stats in hockey, but it’s also one of the most flawed, misleading and misunderstood.

James Mirtle then picked up the chorus, giving a plug to Behind the Net’s metrics…


Reading Staples’s piece, at first I couldn’t help but think that this was an overdone argument, one we’ve heard so many times the past few years that there really isn’t a lot new to add. Yet, if you think about it, plus-minus is still pretty much as prevalent as it ever has been. Players like Thomas Vanek and Viktor Kozlov are getting Selke votes because of it, and articles crow about Nick Lidstrom’s value to the Red Wings on the basis of what is largely a junk stat.

Finally, we have Dave Johnson from HockeyAnalysis.com, who proposes his own solution:

A year or so ago I worked on developing my own ratings system which admitidly [sic] is far more complicated than +/- or Behind the Net’s ratio system and while still far from perfect I am confident is much more revealing.

Coming up with a good way to describe defensive performance, separated from the impact of teammates and opponents, is the Holy Grail of statistical analysis in the NHL.  For the moment, I’m partial to Alan Ryder’s Player Contribution work, which breaks down the game into a number of various components.  In terms of pure defensive contribution, his top three skaters last season were San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, and Columbus’ Jan Hejda.

Filed in: NHL Statistical Analysis, | On the Forecheck | Permalink


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