Philosophy of hockey Sabremetrics: Can hockey accurately be measured?
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07-28-2012, 08:41 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Washington, DC.
Originally Posted by
Then it's a good thing it is improving. People are constantly finding new ways to quantify a player/team. Traditional hockey analysis (good 'ol Tranna boy, not some gutless yuropeen *slams hands on desk*) is static. It doesn't change. It's out of date and doesn't reflect the reality of the game.
That's not traditional hockey analysis. That's Don Cherry- scouts aren't that stupid. Good, insightful analysis from a scout is very different, and might look something like this:
X defenseman has good gap control, and is highly skilled at angling forwards to low percentage areas. His stickwork is weak, and he's overly prone to trying for pokechecks, though he shows remarkable recovery ability when those attempts fail. Good at blocking shots low, but often puts himself out of position when trying to block shots further away from the net. Has good poise with the puck, and passes, while uncreative and somewhat predictable, are usually executed well. Decent skating with an average top speed, above average mobility and acceleration. Strong, but not a great hitter. Proficient at pinning opposing players to the board, allowing teammates to recover pucks, but takes more holding penalties than he should for doing it. On offense, capable but not spectacular with passes, and possessing an average, but accurate shot that usually stays low. Occasionally has difficulty holding pucks on his right side in the zone, though far above average on his stick side. Pinches, while infrequent, never seem to be inappropriate, and he rarely ranges past the top of the circles.
Note that I'm not a professional scout and that's modeled after no particular player, just a generic higher end 2nd pairing defenseman.
But you get a pretty good picture of the player, and his strengths and weaknesses from that kind of report, and you get a lot of details that stats wouldn't give you, which allows you to determine if the player would be a good fit. The player I describe doesn't have the strongest transition game, so if your team focuses on that, maybe you don't trade for him. If, on the other hand, you like a defense that reads plays well and minimizes high risk shots, he'd be an excellent fit. If you like a physical, shutdown defense that gives up very few shots and hits really well, again, not a good fit. If you like a defense that engages in the offensive zone, again, maybe not a player you like so much. If you like your D to be more responsible even if it costs you a few offensive chances, the fact that he doesn't go low and is really smart about pinches is a big plus.
Stats, even advanced stats, don't tell you stuff like that. They may be interesting when negotiating a contract and comparing a player's effectiveness league wide, but they don't tell you how any given player fits the role you want him to play, or how he'll mesh with your coach's style or his linemates. But a scout can tell you all of those things. It's not either or, but there's a lot more to think about than just if the player has a good zone start ratio or a bad one.
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