An Outsiders Inside view of the NHL Stats Revolution - Part 2

Kent Wilson
September 03 2014 12:00PM

road-ahead


(In part 1 I discussed the current state of advanced stats in the NHL with a view to defining an "ideal state" for NHL clubs in their efforts to establish modern analytics departments. In part 2, we look at where this form of analysis came from and where it may be headed in the future)

“I’ve never said, never thought, that it was better to be an outsider than it was to be an insider, that my view of the game was better than anyone else’s. It’s different; better in some ways, worse in some ways. What I have said is, since we are outsiders…let us use our position as outsiders to what advantage we can. Let us back off from the trees, look at the forest as a whole, and see what we can learn from that.”

- Bill James

Having been an early adopter and advocate of possession-based analysis, perhaps the most common complaint I encountered over the years was how, if corsi was so valuable, it was not actively employed by those who make their living inside the game. If the virtues of this analysis are so clear, why didn't the experts come up with it? How could a bunch of no-name amateurs create something that could be of value to experienced, lifelong hockey men? 

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An Outsiders Inside view of the NHL Stats Revolution - Part 1

Kent Wilson
September 02 2014 12:00PM

road-ahead


I began writing about hockey in 2005. Through a combination of timing and proximity, I have had the fortune of a ringside view of the genesis, dissemination and popularization of hockey's so-called advanced stats. Over this two part series, I will share some of the insights engendered by this somewhat unique perspective. My focus will be on what's currently happening in the league now as teams flock to build analytic departments around possession theory, as well as why the movement grew outside of the league's front offices and where we may expect this sort of analysis to go in the future.

The off-season of 2014 may well be remembered as the summer of stats, although corsi numbers and their various accoutrements made their way into popular discourse earlier in the year when they began popping up in national broadcasts and game day discussions. No doubt the new numbers began to spread in part due to the spectacular failure of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a club that had been deemed as a bellwether for possession-based theory at the onset of the season. Their subsequent 84-point, 12th place finish in the face of expanded expectations and executive confidence was the metaphorical canary in the coal mine as it were.

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The NHL Advanced Stats Cheat Sheet

Nation World HQ
September 01 2014 12:00PM

Cheating


This guide is an overview for the media and newcomers to the NHL's advanced (or "fancy") stats. It includes definitions of the key advanced stats concepts, plus an FAQ to clarify some of the typical inquiries about these measures. It is not to meant to be completely comprehensive; only a useful introduction to possession-based analysis.

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THE ROUNDUP

Nation World HQ
August 29 2014 08:05AM

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NHL reportedly looking at expansion, the changing world of sports journalism, Flames expectations, comparing Justin Schultz to PK Subban and more in this weeks Roundup

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The Log Off Podcast, Ep.8: with Corey Sznajder

Dimitri Filipovic
August 28 2014 10:53AM

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With the tracking project he has had his face buried in for months now finally starting to get the widespread attention that it deserves, we had Corey Sznajder join the show this week. We discussed which players - like Valtteri Filppula for example, who's pictured above - have particularly caught his eye in the games he has tracked thus far. 

We also looked into whether their strong zone entry data is something that those holding out hope that the Colorado Avalanche won't fold like a deck of cards this coming season can find solace in, and whether the unseemly zone exit numbers for the Canucks will be righted now that John Tortorella and his system are out of the picture.

There's also a Severin Blindenbacher reference somewhere in there, too.

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