ADVANCED STATS: DO THE MATH . . . OR NOT

Robin Brownlee
August 18 2011 11:23PM

Some hockey fans put a lot of weight in advanced statistics. Other people, not so much. The debate about the value of all the numbers out there, or lack of same, and which ones are useful in evaluating players is fodder for countless websites, including this one.

While the discussion between the math-inclined and the I-know-what-I-saw crowd tends to get tedious -- I find many numbers guys a touch strident in pushing their views about the value of advanced stats -- I do find it interesting when somebody who actually makes a living from the game of hockey, particularly at the NHL level, offers his take.

Edmonton Oilers coach Tom Renney certainly qualifies as somebody gainfully employed in the game of hockey, so I listened with interest when he talked about advanced stats on the Jason Gregor Show today.

While Gregor's interview with Renney was far from an in-depth look at the numbers during a wide-ranging interview, Renney did offer his take in a segment you can find here: http://www.jasongregor.com/radio_shows/tom-renney-john-shannon-nhl-research-and-development-camp/show_clips/tom-renney-august-18

The following are excerpts from questions Gregor asked and how Renney answered.

BY THE NUMBERS

GREGOR: How much do you study advanced statistics?

RENNEY: "Quite a bit, you know. I do. I look for trends as much as anything. I think we can't rely only on our gut which, for the most part, is pretty accurate and one of those things you can't gauge.

"That's what's interesting with the whole dynamic now of the way statistics are being taken is that, standing behind the bench and having a gut-feel for something or having your finger on the pulse of the game and the dynamic of it and whether or not so-and-so is available to you because he's got a broken skate blade or a bad shoulder or ill or just having one of those nights. You don't always see that type off thing.

"You know, we've got to be very, very careful of that. At the same time as I say that, yeah, I do, I pay attention to a number of statistics, you know, that help me prepare a team, coach a game and prepare for the next one.

"I think that's important. I think what we have to do is make sure we're measuring the right stuff and not get so bogged down with all kinds of information that we, too, as coaches are removed from sort of that spontaneity of coaching. if you can't play it, you want to coach it. That's the best seat in the house and we can be so consumed by those types of things that we lose the flow and the tempo and the pace of the game ourselves and actually hinder its progress."

WHAT NUMBERS MATTER?

GREGOR: "Tom, is there any specific one or two of those advanced stats that you do look at that maybe carries a bit more weight in your mind?

RENNEY: "Like everybody else, we all pay attention to chances-plus/minus, you know, and the synergy between yourself and a defence partner or the synergy between a line, the synergy between a group of five guys, and what does that chance total look like at the end of the period, the end of a game, the end of a segment?

"Those types of things. I do pay close attention to that and spend a number of hours after each game sort of reviewing the game and looking at chances for and against and try to identify the synergy that might be taking place. That's important to me.

"Others things, obviously, there's things like your face-off percentage and success and, you know, your shot totals are important, yes, but, you know, more so than that your chance totals. Those are key to me.

"Time on ice and deployment of people, you know, is something I pay attention to and recognize that we can overplay some people, we can underplay others that might have it going that particular night.

"Things like that. There's just so many things available to us. There's a catalogue of things that we pay attention to as a coaching staff that we believe are relevant. I've identified a couple of them for you."

GUT-CHECK TIME

GREGOR: "When you look at those stats after the game, do you ever find that your gut-feel of how you felt a player played was a lot different than the stats or are they normally rather similar?"

RENNEY: "They usually line up pretty good. I have to be honest with you, and that's not to take any credit for that. I think that, by and large, NHL coaching staffs will tell you, 'Yeah, that's sort of what I figured,' you know, where we were in that particular instance under that circumstance for that statistic.

"I think the one thing that's very dangerous is to, at the conclusion of a game, and especially after a loss, is to try to evaluate those things still having a huge emotional connection to the game. I think that, often times, you look at the video that night, you're still kind of attached to it.

"Whereas, maybe the next morning after you've had a night to kind of get over it, come back to work and you might see that you actually performed better than you thought might have. Or, maybe you weren't quite as good as you thought you were.

"At the end of the day, as much as statistics are great, you know, pictures don't lie. Again, we can be so consumed by statistics that we kind of lose sight of the feel for the game. I think doing your video work at the appropriate time is probably as important as anything we do."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
August 18 2011, 11:28PM
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I have very small hands.

EDIT: That is what she said, after she said thank you.

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#2 Matt Henderson
August 19 2011, 07:59AM
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@dawgbone

Someone has their serious pants on this Friday morning.

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#3 Pilgor09
August 19 2011, 03:28AM
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Did you ever wonder if there's more to life than being relly really ridiculously good looking?

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#4 dawgbone
August 19 2011, 07:49AM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

So it turns out that secondary advanced stats really are secondary.

I bet there were more than a few people that were hoping Renney really cared what the square root of Penner's RelCorsi divided by the Zone Start of Tom Gilbert minus Gagner's Fenwick was, converted to the imperial system of course.

That's what you got out of it?

Funny, I'm pretty sure deployment of people falls under things like Zone start and shot totals are what Corsi and Fenwick are based on.

Here's the thing though.

He's got access to hundreds of hours of video, we do not.

They can (and do) track possession time in every zone (which is what Corsi and Fenwick are attempting to measure). That information is not available to us as fans.

To be honest, he uses advanced stats as much as I'd suspect given the access he has to other resources.

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#5 dawgbone
August 19 2011, 10:05AM
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As a slight aside, it's not just the coaching that can/do use statistical analysis, but the guys making the decision at the top.

If you are going to sign a guy, are your pro scouts putting in the same video effort that your coaching staff does? Unlikely.

As an example, no one who views stats analysis as an important part of player evaluation would have signed Khabibulin to that contract. Yet the professional General Manager who is in charge of making these decisions, did.

And reasons were things like "He has a Stanley Cup", "He's a proven winner". It didn't focus on the fact that he had missed games due to injury every year for 4 straight years. It didn't focus on how he was statistically one of the worst goaltenders in the NHL over the previous 4 seasons.

It focused on "He lead his team to the conference finals" instead of "His team had to score almost 4 goals a game to get there".

There's definitely a place for both (seeing and stats analysis), but in the absence of being able to analyze video, the stats do a hell of a job.

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#6 Wanyes bastard child
August 18 2011, 11:28PM
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Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement wrote:

I have very small hands.

EDIT: That is what she said, after she said thank you.

*that what she said ;)

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#7 OiLz
August 18 2011, 11:42PM
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stats is the word of the day...or night. good article.

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#8 knobby
August 19 2011, 12:41AM
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Great post and great insight. With so much emphasis on stats with many posters it's good to read Renney's take on the impact of stats as an NHL coach.

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#9 pelhem grenville
August 19 2011, 04:41AM
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...or not

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#10 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
August 19 2011, 05:51AM
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Is that Brownlee circa 1975 sitting at the Apple IIe with the dot.matrix printer??

*Sorry Robin, I couldn't resist the shot.

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#11 Kent Wilson
August 19 2011, 06:24AM
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That all sounds entirely reasonable. Thanks for sharing and good on Gregor for asking the questions.

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#12 danjo1
August 19 2011, 06:50AM
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@Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

I'm guessing it's Wanye checking up on the ON web server.

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#13 T.C.
August 19 2011, 07:22AM
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Mr.Brownlee: finally got around to listening to your stint on oiler nation radio and just wanted to say i thought you did a bang up job hopefully you get to fill in on a more regular basis

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#14 book¡e
August 19 2011, 07:25AM
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So, am I correct that the answer was basically "Yeah, we kinda sorta use advanced statistics - particularly that scoring chance thingy - but not really much"

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#15 Matt Henderson
August 19 2011, 07:38AM
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So it turns out that secondary advanced stats really are secondary.

I bet there were more than a few people that were hoping Renney really cared what the square root of Penner's RelCorsi divided by the Zone Start of Tom Gilbert minus Gagner's Fenwick was, converted to the imperial system of course.

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#16 Mitch
August 19 2011, 08:03AM
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@Brownlee

The end comment that Renney gives tells me all I need to know... watch the video because you can use all the stats you want, the oilers lose every critical battle have poor positioning on and on and on. When your 30th place dont worry about stats, worry about making the players better 1 shift at a time.

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#17 The Beaker
August 19 2011, 08:15AM
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@dawgbone

"He's got access to hundreds of hours of video, we do not."

Sure we do, it's called the internet. Difference is we don't look at those hours of video. :)

Top of the mornin... I'm going back to sleep for a bit.

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#19 ricky p
August 19 2011, 08:54AM
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Stats are entertaining, but not too accurate. Hemsky should score 82 points this year based on his potential, however, gets injured and score 42. So much for stats.

I find reality and current circumstances are the best indicators about what will probably happen. Sorry stats guys. 7 out of 6 of us will probably agree or disagree with this.

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#20 Matt Henderson
August 19 2011, 09:17AM
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@Robin Brownlee

That's exactly what I thought was going on. It's really interesting to see the hockeymetrics stats crowd put a disproportionate amount of stock into some of these numbers that actual NHL coaches dont even consider.

I get their position though, as dawgbone noted while completely missing what was obviously jest, the average fan doesnt have access to all of the resources of an NHL coach, so stats become more important. And some of the advanced stats really do an ok job of quantifying scoring chances, which at the end of the day is what an NHL coach is trying to generate going one way and prevent going the other.

I'm a bit of a tweener I guess. I'm open to some advanced stats, but I'm not a statistical determinist. I wont pine over the loss of Sean Couturier because we took the unanimous #1 pick RNH instead. And I'm fine with saying that Gilbert isnt physical enough even if he does face tough opposition.

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#21 Jon
August 19 2011, 09:24AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

In the NHL, advanced stats aren't even secondary in assessing what happened -- who did what and why -- on an ongoing basis.

Video is, far and away, the tool coaches use most often to back-up what they've seen in live game action and how they track what they've done and what other teams do.

While some advanced stats are useful in charting results over seasons or segments of seasons, there is far more emphasis put on them by people outside the game than inside it on a day-to-day basis.

Agree with you and dawgbone.

You're essentially saying the same thing, a lot of these advanced stats are just trying to measure what coaches pour over hours of video looking for. What dawgbone says is very accurate, why calculate Corsi (which I believe attempts to measure if a player is moving the puck the right way), when you can watch video and record puck posesssion and time in zones to the exact second. The only reason is a lack of resources and motivation (ie salary), which is not a problem for NHL coaches.

So what you say is very right, there's more emphasis put on them by people outside the game (ie the fans), and rightly so. And like you say, it would come into use for coaches when charting results over seasons...something that would be too time consuming even for paid staff especially when you start talking about players beyond your team.

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#22 Pajamah
August 19 2011, 09:35AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

In the NHL, advanced stats aren't even secondary in assessing what happened -- who did what and why -- on an ongoing basis.

Video is, far and away, the tool coaches use most often to back-up what they've seen in live game action and how they track what they've done and what other teams do.

While some advanced stats are useful in charting results over seasons or segments of seasons, there is far more emphasis put on them by people outside the game than inside it on a day-to-day basis.

I obviously do not know anything beyond being a fan of the game (and blogosphere), but i would think from coaching staff to coaching staff, there may be a substantial difference in the dissection/relevence of secondary statistics.

Now I am not a numbers guy, and s*&t on Willis in numerous articles, but certain coaches like Roger Neilsen (sp?) in his day seemed to have broken everything down to statistics.

I do agree with your last statement though, fans and purveyors of the game definitely put more stock in the Corsi/Fenwick/Zone start numbers than even the most numbers obsessed pros.

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#23 namflashback
August 19 2011, 09:51AM
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It's a little funny what interpretations people are getting from what they read.

From the interview snippet I would paraphrase the following from Renney:

- we don't just go by gut feel, we look at stats and video - the stat we look at is chances for and against (Roger Nielsen numbers) -- and we use it to confirm if what we thought we saw is backed up in the numbers. we use it to confirm chemistry on a FW line or a D pair. - we don't weigh stats or video higher in our evaluation than specific details we know (player hurt or sick) - video is our best coaching analysis tool. evaluation of video is best done the morning after - when we are not emotional about it

I'm pretty sure he did not say . . . stats all bad, or stats all good.

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#24 dawgbone
August 19 2011, 09:55AM
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Mitch wrote:

@Brownlee

The end comment that Renney gives tells me all I need to know... watch the video because you can use all the stats you want, the oilers lose every critical battle have poor positioning on and on and on. When your 30th place dont worry about stats, worry about making the players better 1 shift at a time.

Or you worry about getting better players, replacing the bad ones with better ones.

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#25 Ribs
August 19 2011, 09:57AM
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Stats are entertaining, but not too accurate. Hemsky should score 82 points this year based on his potential, however, gets injured and score 42. So much for stats.

Yep. So much for stats. *facepalm*

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#26 Ned Braden
August 19 2011, 09:58AM
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I appreciate some of the advance statistics information but am not a big fan of the advance statistics crowd and think their blind faith in them is baffling. To me it seems like they are the biggest "Monday morning quaterbacks" out there. They stand behind their stats and believe that they could coach/GM an NHL team better than men who have spent their lives in hockey because they can work an Excel spreadsheet.

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#27 dawgbone
August 19 2011, 10:07AM
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Ned Braden wrote:

I appreciate some of the advance statistics information but am not a big fan of the advance statistics crowd and think their blind faith in them is baffling. To me it seems like they are the biggest "Monday morning quaterbacks" out there. They stand behind their stats and believe that they could coach/GM an NHL team better than men who have spent their lives in hockey because they can work an Excel spreadsheet.

Ned, how hard is it to assemble what has become the statistically worst team in the NHL since 06-07?

Let's be honest, it couldn't be much worse.

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#28 Ned Braden
August 19 2011, 10:20AM
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@ dawgbone

I agree with you it wouldn't be hard to assemble the worst team in the NHL. I by no means am a big Tambi supported and hope that isn't what my post was coming across as.

There are lots of bad GM's and coaches and I have no problem critizing them for their mistakes. My point is that IMO it seems like the advanced stats crowd stand up on a soap box and proclaim their superior intelligence in an industry that none of them have worked in.

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#29 Dan the Man
August 19 2011, 10:20AM
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This was a really good interview. I'd be curious to hear what other coaches and GM's around the league think of advanced stats. i.e Which teams use them more than others and how successful are they?

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#30 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 19 2011, 10:20AM
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ricky p wrote:

Stats are entertaining, but not too accurate. Hemsky should score 82 points this year based on his potential, however, gets injured and score 42. So much for stats.

I find reality and current circumstances are the best indicators about what will probably happen. Sorry stats guys. 7 out of 6 of us will probably agree or disagree with this.

Briliant

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#31 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 19 2011, 10:25AM
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If anything this sheds light that pro teams do in fact use advanced stats... which is contrary to what a fraction of the "I watch'ems" were pushing.

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#32 Butters
August 19 2011, 10:43AM
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RB, a little off topic, but I would like to say that I really enjoyed the 53 + 5 article. I must have read the article and the comments a dozen times. I would have commented earlier but we just welcomed our second son on Aug 15(1 day short of sharing a b-day with the Brownlee boys)

Just curious, have you ever thought about writing an article on the Mrs? Assuming she would be Ok with that.

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#34 Butters
August 19 2011, 11:01AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Congratulations. Your second son has the same birthday as Craig MacTavish.

As for Analyn, I'd be quite happy to write a 10-part series on her, starting with a chapter titled World's Most Tolerant Woman, but I have my doubts she'd be thrilled with that.

Thanks for the congrats. He also shares the same birthday as Napolean. ~Oh, there's the poor house, I guess that's my stop~

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#35 SumOil
August 19 2011, 11:05AM
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Ned Braden wrote:

@ dawgbone

I agree with you it wouldn't be hard to assemble the worst team in the NHL. I by no means am a big Tambi supported and hope that isn't what my post was coming across as.

There are lots of bad GM's and coaches and I have no problem critizing them for their mistakes. My point is that IMO it seems like the advanced stats crowd stand up on a soap box and proclaim their superior intelligence in an industry that none of them have worked in.

To the contrary, I find people who rely only on 'saw em good' part are arrogant and closed to realm of statisitcs. Most of 'saw em good' crowd watches the Oilers only on the game night and its really hard to gauge everything when things are being played at such a fast pace. Even the coaching staff goes through hours of video review to accuratelty judge previous nights' game.

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#36 loosemoose
August 19 2011, 11:39AM
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8 out of 10 Oiler fans believe in H.O.P.E., but 5 out of 10 don't think they'll make the playoffs...what gives??? *looks up and shakes fist while yelling at the hockey stats gods*

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#37 Death Metal Nightmare
August 19 2011, 11:51AM
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one of the best posts ever put up on here "hockey related". huge chunk of humble pie to the geeks who want to turn hockey into baseball.

we could only wish hockey was as boring and static - with a sick 37 calorie burn per game (while offsetting it with treats and garbage sports drinks) from the non-pitchers/catchers.

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#38 spOILer
August 19 2011, 12:07PM
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Really Robin, because I don't see that at all.

People using advanced stats are acutely aware that they are not applicable on a shift, period, or game basis. They are used byto evaluate play over time. Except of course for the ones he mentioned: chances and TOI.

From that pov, the interview and the article miss the point.

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#39 The Other John
August 19 2011, 12:20PM
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I am not an aficionado of advanced stats but think are a huge tool that can be used by a progressive organization to gain an incremental advantage over opponents. Knowing that player X starts in the other teams offensive zone and disproportionally ends up n his own zone, is information that can be used to grade how effective that person (in combination with his linemates) is at playing their opponents.

Put simply it is information that should be used.

Same thing was done 30 years ago in baseball by Bill James and his accolytes and their research is now done (and considered mainstream info) by all 30 MLB teams.

Put another way if yiou are not using it and your opponenets are, you are going to end u[p 30th overall..... wait a minute

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#40 RexLibris
August 19 2011, 01:00PM
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I just finished reading a book that has a direct relation to this article, Proofiness by Charles Seife. The author is a mathematician and the book is, essentially, about the misuse and misinterpretation of statistics and math in politics, war, government policy, elections, etc. While the author doesn't use any references to sports there are some points he makes that are notably relevant to the stats vs gut debate among fans. The first being that our brains are wired to look for patterns and connections where often none exist ("If I turn off the tv during the 2nd period, Brule usually scores or gets an assist"). I find this particularly relevant to the argument about how a player is trending. Don't get me wrong, I like having the added information and had we been looking this hard at prospects 20 years ago we could have avoided some mistakes *coughBonsignorecough*. But I don't think either side of the argument outright wins. On paper Nik Zherdev could look awesome, but watch him for half a dozen games and you'll be ranting about lies, damn lies, and statitics.

That's just my 2 cents.

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#41 toni_rajalapeno
August 19 2011, 01:04PM
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Hey I took that photo, great choice Rubes.

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#42 Quicksilver ballet
August 19 2011, 01:08PM
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Should be interesting to see what/if Steve gets an extension at some point this year.

Does Daryl Katz let him walk without an extension after this season, or does he get the usual parting of the ways deal for GM's by signing a 3 yr extension to secure a 2 yr'ish severance package.

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#43 FastOil
August 19 2011, 01:40PM
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People seem to have a natural inclination to polarize things, and overstate their positions.

Of course, the truth lies in the middle somewhere. Yes, pro sports teams accumulate numbers to gain an edge, but a good hockey person should know the same information just by watching. That's really what scouts do.

The thing that irks me with some stats loving folks is that they seem to want to completely discount any opinion that doesn't have some number attached to it. Most people just watch the games without math and can still be very knowledgable.

Some stats lovers and writers also overstate their certainty of having done a correct analysis. They demand rigorous verification of every thing others state, and heaven forbid you have an opinion like Whitney and Hemsky will be injured again unless you are an orthopedic surgeon.

At the same time, stats are enormously complex, even for statisticians, and I don't think very many writers and commentors are sporting a degree in them. This strikes me as a bit hypocritical.

Like Renney said, if you understand what is happening on the ice, the impression you take is very close to what the numbers say. The numbers are usefull to verify that you are taking the right impression.

I don't need Corsi to know the Oilers get curb stomped by most teams if they bother to show up. On the other hand, I like looking at Corsi, and appreciate the efforts of those that spend a lot of time looking at numbers, and coming up with ideas to give us insights into our favourite team and it's players (especially when they aren't cliquish and rude to their commentors).

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#44 dawgbone
August 19 2011, 01:48PM
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Ned Braden wrote:

@ dawgbone

I agree with you it wouldn't be hard to assemble the worst team in the NHL. I by no means am a big Tambi supported and hope that isn't what my post was coming across as.

There are lots of bad GM's and coaches and I have no problem critizing them for their mistakes. My point is that IMO it seems like the advanced stats crowd stand up on a soap box and proclaim their superior intelligence in an industry that none of them have worked in.

Here's the thing.

A lot of people who work in NHL management have virtually no qualifications to do so.

For instance, what are Kevin Lowe's qualifications?

He had a very good career as a player, a season as an assistant coach, one as a head coach and then he was a General Manager.

What qualifications does he have to manage a multi million dollar business?

Is there an industry other than pro sports that does this?

How many CEO's were assembly line workers for 15 years before making the jump?

Granted there are the guys who went and got an education to come back and take these jobs (most of them ended up becoming lawyers). But a lot of these guys only major qualification were that they played the game at a high level and made some good connections.

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#45 dawgbone
August 19 2011, 01:56PM
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RexLibris wrote:

I just finished reading a book that has a direct relation to this article, Proofiness by Charles Seife. The author is a mathematician and the book is, essentially, about the misuse and misinterpretation of statistics and math in politics, war, government policy, elections, etc. While the author doesn't use any references to sports there are some points he makes that are notably relevant to the stats vs gut debate among fans. The first being that our brains are wired to look for patterns and connections where often none exist ("If I turn off the tv during the 2nd period, Brule usually scores or gets an assist"). I find this particularly relevant to the argument about how a player is trending. Don't get me wrong, I like having the added information and had we been looking this hard at prospects 20 years ago we could have avoided some mistakes *coughBonsignorecough*. But I don't think either side of the argument outright wins. On paper Nik Zherdev could look awesome, but watch him for half a dozen games and you'll be ranting about lies, damn lies, and statitics.

That's just my 2 cents.

Except turning off your TV has no affect on the game.

Constantly being a lousy hockey and player and being on the ice a lot does.

There are certain things that don't mean much... like when the puck drops to start the game between 7:06 and 7:09 PM the Oilers have a winning record.

On the flip side, a guy scores 18 goals and gets lauded as the next great thing, except he did it on the back of a sh% that's 10% higher than his career average.

Hockey is a pretty simple game, score more than the other team. The easiest way to do that is to keep the puck out of your end and in theirs. That's essentially what all these numbers look at.

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#47 Oilcan
August 19 2011, 05:47PM
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Renney uses advanced stats and the Oilers finished last hmmm...

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#48 Oilcan
August 19 2011, 05:54PM
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In reality I find advanced stats interesting but I believe some people put way too much emphasis on them. They are a useful tool but not the only one or the best one, I feel that watching a player/game provides better value to abilities/overall game then advanced stats do.

Granted sometimes there is luck involved in the game (Jones getting 18 goals) but its still 18 goals for the Oilers so who cares what the advanced stats say. I think a whole organization of hockey people know more than what advanced stats show (Copper and Blue doesn't seem to think so sometimes, which maybe is true but I would rather see a guy play and make an opinion then look at the advanced stats and make the call.

Also maybe its just me but since when is plus/minus an "advanced stat"? or maybe a mis-read what Renney said.

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#49 striatic
August 19 2011, 06:37PM
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i know the link to the radio clip in the post here isn't properly formed and doesn't work when you click it, and that actually listening to the interview puts the quotes into better perspective.

advanced stats are as serious a business there is in a game that's about sliding around on ice and shooting rubber discs into metal nets using wooden sticks with crooks on the end.

but ..

Tom Renney is a Coach. Tom Renney is not a GM. if he were the GM, his focus on video as opposed to advanced stats would trouble me, but his job is not so much to look at the statistical results, but improve player performance by looking at specific mistakes and come up with specific solutions.

here's a clip from NHL 24/7 which shows the pittsburgh coaching staff doing what i think coaches should do. it's not about stats, but it IS analytical, and it is fascinating to listen to the Pen's assistant coach describe how going over the video allowed him to revisit and change his 'gut' feeling from the night before - which is very much how Renney describes his use of stats and video - to keep his subjectivity in check .. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3569L0-eSI

in the coaching environment, it is quite possible that an overemphasis on stats might obscure other forms of evaluation that are more pertinent to the coach's job. that's exactly how Renney describes it and it don't bother me a bit.

but ..

if Steve Tambellini had the same attitude to statistics as Renney and talked about going with his guts and stats sometimes getting in the way and whatnot, then i'd probably want to reach through the aether and throttle the guy.

i believe that as a GM he should be leaning on every statistical tool available to evaluate players. Tambellini is supposed to play the long game and anything that offers insight into player performance over large sample sizes should be of intense interest to him. i worry that his level of interest is not on the leading edge in this area.

i'm much more interested to see Tambellini's responses to these types of questions than Renney's. Renney's attitude seems fine to me, and similar to that of successful NHL coaches.

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#50 Saytalk
August 19 2011, 07:38PM
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If Renney tracks plus/minus and faceoff percentage (as his responses indicate), then he should take a look at wuss Gagner's numbers (-17 and 43.8%).

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