by PuckStopsHere on 09/09/12 at 07:41 PM ET
My ideal situation was to begin discussing the 2012/13 season around now but since we could be in for months of labour discussion and a lockout, I will have to turn to plan B, which is a continued discussion of sabermetrics and hockey. There is a lot of work being done in this area and it is nice to get a chance to showcase it.
Today I want to look at "close Fenwick". This is a number some people believe is the best indicator of how good teams are. I have written a bit about Fenwick Numbers in the past. This is an alternative to the Corsi Number which uses only shots on goal and missed shots as events. A +/- rating type stat can be kept for a team or an individual player based on Fenwick events. I tend to support Corsi numbers which also include blocked shots. The debate about whether or not to include blocked shots hinges on the fact that some teams attempt to block shots as a defensive strategy and there is considerable skill in it. It is hard to punish players for blocking shots, although a team that blocks shots necessarily must not have possession of the puck and that is not a good thing. Is there much difference fundamentally between a shot that is blocked and a shot that is not blocked when we are interested in determining puck possession?
The problem with puck possession numbers is they tend to not be an effective gage of how good teams are when the score is not close. When one team has a comfortable lead they often "take their foot off the gas" and play a more defensive system and allow their opponents to control the puck, while attempting to prevent high quality shooting opportunities. When a team is behind in a game they are "playing desperate" in an attempt to tie up the game. They play a much more offensive system where they control the puck and may be susceptible to high quality scoring chances on the counter-attack. Close Fenwick is defined as the Fenwick number when the game is within one goal in the first or second period and tied in the third period and overtime. This number is usually reported as a percentage of Fenwick evens that a particular team gets. Thus an average team has a 50% close Fenwick.
In the future, I will look at these numbers and try to compare them to a more simple team Corsi as that is a number I have reported in the past. I hope to show how different these rankings can be and how meaningful these differences can be.
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