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Old
04-03-2012, 12:28 PM
  #76
Lafleurs Guy
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Originally Posted by MathMan View Post
Admittedly, analytics are only concerned about things that help win games, not things that make the players or the fans feel better (unless the players feeling better also leads to winning more games, which is measurable).

On the other hand, if player X has "intangibles" that help win hockey games, then the effects of the intangibles will be measured, if not the intangibles themselves.
You keep saying this but you I don't see any convincing arguments as to why you believe this.
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Analytics are not terribly concerned about style; they are concerned about effects. Whether Chara achieves defense via physicality or positioning is not relevant; what is relevant is that defense is achieved and defense is measurable (and that is certainly not "intangible").
First, style might actually matter. Analytics wouldn't pick this up. Again, if Chara hammers somebody into the boards harder than Deharnais does, you call this 'style'... I'd say there's more going on here than your numbers are able to capture.

Second, you say defense is measurable. Well, I've heard of defensive rating before but you throw it out there like it's unassailable. When I asked you to show me the Corsi leaders long ago and saw that Tanguay was up above guys like Crosby it made me wonder about the value of CORSI being a predictor of offensive prowess to begin with. I get that somebody has developed a stat for 'defensive rating' but that doesn't mean that it's without flaws.
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I repeat myself, but this is important and it is actually unrelated to analytics: "intangibles" that do not actually have an impact on winning games that is significant enough to be noticeable might as well not exist. And intangibles that do have an impact will be measured as part of that player's performance.
And I'm saying that you can't possibly know this. If you're colour blind you won't know the colour red unless somebody else tells you that you that it's there.
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It's also significant that there seems to be a fair bit of waffle about the definition of "intangible". Is it merely stuff like "leadership" and "good in the room", or are we including stuff that does not fall under that traditional heading such as "Chara hits harder than Desharnais", which really have more to do with playing style than intangibles?
All of it. Leadership, physicality, backing your players up on the ice and off... those are things that are hard to measure. But if you've got a teammate who's belittling his mates he's going to be less valuable than one who will stand up for them won't he? You don't think that players feel a little safer knowing that they've got Chara there to back them up if things get rough? You don't think they may play a little more aggressively if he's there? How do you measure this kind of stuff? That stuff matters. Billy Beane learned that the hard way with idiots like Jeremy Giambi on his roster.

It shows up in the win column but there are so many variables it's hard to show HOW it happened. Chris Pronger for example is a guy who I'd say is more valuable than his microstats. His success is not a fluke and three straight runs to the cup prove it.
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This is measurable by examining shots positions. To my knowledge however, the Bruins did not have an inordinate percentage of perimeter shots relative to "dangerous" shots.
And right there... it's subjective. Who determines this?

Moreover, it STILL wouldn't show you if a player might have gone to the net more if Chara wasn't there. Maybe he still goes to the net but doesn't go to the net as hard. Maybe he doesn't go at the goalie as hard. You're never going to be able to capture everything on a spreadsheet. I'm not saying those numbers aren't useful, but there's more to the game than just those stats.

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04-03-2012, 12:36 PM
  #77
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If Gauthier had had any notion of this, he wouldn't have traded for Kaberle, he wouldn't have fired Martin, he wouldn't have traded Cammalleri for a dud like Bourque, and the Habs would probably be in the playoffs right now.
Thing is you've been consistently wrong on this team. Year in and year out I've told you we're a bubble team. And yet year in and year out you say I'm crazy.

I told you when we made those moves three years ago it would lead us nowhere. I told you that we weren't going to be able to score goals and would struggle if Price faltered. It's three years later and all of this stuff has continued to happen. Our CORSI is apparently great and yet JM has only managed to average 90 points over an 82 game schedule for three years. If our microstats were so good, then why have we been so mediocre?

Do you think it might have something to do with our core forward group being smurfs? I mean, doesn't our lack of success open you to the possibility that maybe there are other things to consider when building a team?

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04-03-2012, 12:52 PM
  #78
Kjell Dahlin
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Originally Posted by MathMan View Post

(...)

On the other hand, if player X has "intangibles" that help win hockey games, then the effects of the intangibles will be measured, if not the intangibles themselves.

(...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lafleurs Guy View Post
You keep saying this but you I don't see any convincing arguments as to why you believe this.

First, style might actually matter. Analytics wouldn't pick this up. Again, if Chara hammers somebody into the boards harder than Deharnais does, you call this 'style'... I'd say there's more going on here than your numbers are able to capture.

(...)
I am not totally disagreeing with you here Lafleurs Guy (especially with post #75) - analytics, modelizations… are decision making tools *1 designed to help the decison makers. They are not a substitute for the decisions makers! - but just to keep the discussion going forwards... Mathletic already provided an interesting answer to your objection:

Quote: "... Whatever ratings will basically work from top down if I can put it this way ... whether it's a win shares system, point contribution, WAR, adjusted +/- and so on ... They will calculate how much of an impact a player had, say defensively, on his team compared to a replacement player. That is, how much better is Chara defensively compared to a border line AHL/NHL d-man for example.

Ratings, in general, don't compute that a guy made 65 hits so he gets that much credit for defense plus 105 blocked shots, so he gets that many more credits and so on.

So, in general, a defensive rating will implicitly include intimidation for example or whatever intangible you may think of. Since, if Chara actually scares player to the point that they won't drive the net as much than if player X was on the ice ... who's borderline AHL/NHL ... instead of Chara then it will reflect in his defensive stats whether rates of shots/against, goals/against, adjusted +/- or whatever system you use
..." (end quote) - Ref.: post #66


*1 In French: outils d'aide à la décision.


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04-03-2012, 12:55 PM
  #79
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I'm skeptical of statistical minutiae when applied to hockey, which after all is a team game. It helps your scoring if you're on a line with a great playmaker and a great puck retriever. Baseball stats, even those in fielding, depend largely on the individual. If a position player flubs a grounder or a fly ball there's no one to cover for him. There's no Dman behind him, there's no goaltender. Woe-ber could mess up a dozen times at the point on the PP without it's registering on the scoreboard if Price stops the breakaway. An outfielder who lets a ball scoor between his legs with the bases loaded could be responsible for three or four runs. If a slugger on a lousy team is at bat the manager of the opposing team might elect to walk him intentionally. There's no comparable option in hockey.

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04-03-2012, 12:59 PM
  #80
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On "point totals matter": This very much reminds me of the baseball arguments that "RBIs matter". We also see "wins matter" both for goalies and pitchers (I don't really follow baseball except in the most cursory manner, but I do remember the ruckus about Hernandez's Cy Young and his 13-12 record, even in this day and age!)

This is a pet peeve of mine actually: people dimissing "microstats" by bringing up "macrostats" such as point totals. Often, this goes so far as arguing statistics don't matter... by bringing up different statistics!

We're no longer discussing "some things aren't measurable" here. We're making the implicit assumption that points total is a superior measure than others, purely because it is traditional, because it has been introduced earlier. That's not a good enough reason to favor it.

It's not that point totals don't matter, it's that the amount of information they contain is suprisingly low, despite often being the only metric players are judged by, consciously or subconsciously. Less informative metrics do not matter even if they have been commonly used in the past (and still are) and if there is some sentimental attachment to them.

On counting discrepancies: there are ways to compensate for counting biases. However, virtually nobody seriously uses takeaways, giveaways, and hits however, which have issues that go way beyond counting biases.

On color-blindness: a color-blind person could easily use a digital camera and computer software to detect and measure color. We use instruments to get around the limitations of our senses all the time. The inability to directly perceive something does not mean it is not otherwise perceptible or measurable, even if it is only by its effects.

Of course, if you ask someone who hates red "is there too much red in this picture?", he's liable to say "yes" to any amount. So it is with stuff like the work ethic of disliked players, or more formally, on the appearance of work ethic. I personally don't care one whit if a million guys tell me the Designated Scapegoat doesn't work hard enough. He's the Designated Scapegoat, he'll never work hard enough -- this has been true for Gomez, Cammalleri, Ryder, Kostitsyn, Kovalev, etc, etc. IMO, such opinions are invariably mostly observer biases and as a result hold no value whatsoever.

The aesthetics of a player, team, or style cannot be measured and are a matter of opinion, true. Analytics are only concerned with processes and results. The appearance of hard work is an aesthetic. I recognize that this is controversial, possibly because traditional hockey values are very blue collar and place a high value on dogged hard work while skill is viewed with some suspiscion.

Aesthetics are personal, and I'm not going to argue those. If anyone wants to argue on that, their opinion is their opinion and I wouldn't expect analytics to convince them otherwise. But me, I don't care how the player looks. What I want to know is if he is effective at helping my team win hockey games.

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04-03-2012, 01:07 PM
  #81
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Originally Posted by Lafleurs Guy View Post
You keep saying this but you I don't see any convincing arguments as to why you believe this.
Because it should be blindingly obvious. Intangibles that don't affect the game, well, they don't affect the game. Analytics only concern themselves with things that affect the game.

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Originally Posted by Lafleurs Guy View Post
First, style might actually matter. Analytics wouldn't pick this up.
Yes, they would. If it affects the game in a significant manner, they would pick it up.

In all honesty, I think think you know what analytics are and how they work, but you really don't and I don't think you're interested in updating your view.

Frankly, it makes the entire argument rather frustrating. It ends up with you questioning the blindingly obvious.

For example: defense isn't necessarily measurable? Seriously? It should be obvious that it is, in goals against if nothing else, but there are many different ways to do this and they all provide different information.

And on an even more basic, more obvious level: if defense weren't measurable, then there would be no way to be sure that Gorges is better than Kaberle defensively, now, would there be?


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04-03-2012, 01:08 PM
  #82
Kjell Dahlin
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Originally Posted by Teufelsdreck View Post
I'm skeptical of statistical minutiae when applied to hockey, which after all is a team game. It helps your scoring if you're on a line with a great playmaker and a great puck retriever. Baseball stats, even those in fielding, depend largely on the individual. If a position player flubs a grounder or a fly ball there's no one to cover for him. There's no Dman behind him, there's no goaltender. Woe-ber could mess up a dozen times at the point on the PP without it's registering on the scoreboard if Price stops the breakaway. An outfielder who lets a ball scoor between his legs with the bases loaded could be responsible for three or four runs. If a slugger on a lousy team is at bat the manager of the opposing team might elect to walk him intentionally. There's no comparable option in hockey.
I don't want to derail the thread but I need to ask you this: Woe-ber eh?

Are you the creator of this new nickname?

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04-03-2012, 01:17 PM
  #83
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God, I wish there were a few GMs in the league who had your faith in this pseudo science: maybe our new GM could unload Gomez & Kaberle to them and get something worthwhile in return.
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I can understand using microstats for broad strokes, for another point of view and I would leave it at that. Microstats are simply a way of putting a scientific facade on intuition.
intuition:
Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot necessarily justify. wiki

That is more in line with "pseudo science" then to apply statistical theories to a sport.
It's obvious you have 0 knowledge of the field, so why don't you sit back and enjoy the discussion between people who seem to have a clue of what is being talked here?

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Lol crazy I see this thread after just seeing Moneyball.
I watched Moneyball yesterday too because of this thread (thought it would be another Baseball movie until someone mentioned what it was really about). It's only natural that it will have huge influence over hockey and all pro sports that can afford to properly apply statistical theories to find what they need.

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04-03-2012, 01:26 PM
  #84
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Originally Posted by MathMan View Post
On "point totals matter": This very much reminds me of the baseball arguments that "RBIs matter". We also see "wins matter" both for goalies and pitchers (I don't really follow baseball except in the most cursory manner, but I do remember the ruckus about Hernandez's Cy Young and his 13-12 record, even in this day and age!)

This is a pet peeve of mine actually: people dimissing "microstats" by bringing up "macrostats" such as point totals. Often, this goes so far as arguing statistics don't matter... by bringing up different statistics!

We're no longer discussing "some things aren't measurable" here. We're making the implicit assumption that points total is a superior measure than others, purely because it is traditional, because it has been introduced earlier. That's not a good enough reason to favor it.

It's not that point totals don't matter, it's that the amount of information they contain is suprisingly low, despite often being the only metric players are judged by, consciously or subconsciously. Less informative metrics do not matter even if they have been commonly used in the past (and still are) and if there is some sentimental attachment to them.
The starting point for the SABR people is that hits don't win games... runs do. It matters how many times you score.

In hockey it's the same principle. Scoring is all that matters. Points in hockey aren't the equivalent to RBIs in baseball. Points would be the equavalent to RUNs which is what you're trying to look for when you build a baseball team... how good is the player at generating runs?

I don't think anyone is dismissing SABR in hockey here but you seem to be dismissing totals and I think that's a problem. We've seen Crosby's CORSI lower than Gomez and Tanguay's and yet he's ten times the players they are. How do we know this? Because he scores points (the objective of hockey is to score more than your opponents) at a much higher rate.

Those microstats (at least the CORSI ones you've shown me and where players rank) do not do a good job of predicting how effective a scorer a player will be. In fact, I've seen the opposite from Gomez. And that's problematic because if it's not effective in projecting at least the offensive effectiveness of a player, then their value is greatly diminished. And I know you point to luck, but no matter how you slice it Gomez is not Crosby and yet his CORSI numbers were actually better.
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On counting discrepancies: there are ways to compensate for counting biases. However, virtually nobody seriously uses takeaways, giveaways, and hits however, which have issues that go way beyond counting biases.
Statiticians can do what they can but I think it's an uphill battle on some of this stuff. And if they're not tracking giveaways/takeaways aren't they missing a big part of the picture? I mean it's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't proposition there. Either they're doing it but subjectively or they're not doing it at all and missing out on vital information.
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On color-blindness: a color-blind person could easily use a digital camera and computer software to detect and measure color. We use instruments to get around the limitations of our senses all the time. The inability to directly perceive something does not mean it is not otherwise perceptible or measurable, even if it is only by its effects.
A colour blind person wouldn't know to look for red to begin with. He'd have to be told by somebody else that 'red' actually existed in the first place.

Moreover, you STILL won't know what it looks like digital camera or not. And couldn't it be argued here that the 'digital camera' here would be looking outside of analytics at the intangibles? Isn't that the only way to see red here?
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Of course, if you ask someone who hates red "is there too much red in this picture?", he's liable to say "yes" to any amount. So it is with stuff like the work ethic of disliked players, or more formally, on the appearance of work ethic. I personally don't care one whit if a million guys tell me the Designated Scapegoat doesn't work hard enough. He's the Designated Scapegoat, he'll never work hard enough -- this has been true for Gomez, Cammalleri, Ryder, Kostitsyn, Kovalev, etc, etc. IMO, such opinions are invariably mostly observer biases and as a result hold no value whatsoever.
Maybe he's the designated scapegoat for good reason. Maybe he doesn't hustle to get back into plays or just flat out doesn't care if he helps the team win. Maybe he can't score a goal to save his life. Maybe he's out there smoking weed before games and partying in Vegas like Giambi did. THAT matters doesn't it?
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The aesthetics of a player, team, or style cannot be measured and are a matter of opinion, true. Analytics are only concerned with processes and results. The appearance of hard work is an aesthetic. I recognize that this is controversial, possibly because traditional hockey values are very blue collar and place a high value on dogged hard work while skill is viewed with some suspiscion.
Getting hit by Chara is worse than getting hit by Desharnais. We may not be able to measure it but we know it because God has given us the gift of common sense.

As for the 'hard work' argument being controversial... pure numbers were put into practice by Billy Beane and it was a howling failure. You have to take this stuff into consideration when building your team or you're going to flame out big time.
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Aesthetics are personal, and I'm not going to argue those. If anyone wants to argue on that, their opinion is their opinion and I wouldn't expect analytics to convince them otherwise. But me, I don't care how the player looks. What I want to know is if he is effective at helping my team win hockey games.
It's not about 'looks' though. Nobody has brought up 'looks'... But there are things that can't be measured and they seem to show up in the win column. If you want to win games, maybe you should open your mind to what's out there outside the spreadsheet.

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04-03-2012, 01:44 PM
  #85
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Hey I'm all for it, but know its limitations as others have mentioned, when it comes to a game like hockey. But the real issue here is that the Habs should not have to use a "Billy Beane" style of management, the Habs are one of the richest franchises in the league and have ample money to burn. However when our management burned the money they burned it on players like Gomez, Cammalari, Kaberle. players who were not only overpaid, but had already proved in another uniform that their salary was way too much for what they produce. If Billy Beane had of been given the GM job over Gainey going back 7-8years ago I believe we would be a playoff team hands down. Despite his lack of hockey knowledge.

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04-03-2012, 01:50 PM
  #86
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If you want to win games, maybe you should open your mind to what's out there outside the spreadsheet.
I think this is big misconception of the utility of statistics in general. One knows the limits of a statistical model. To advance in it, you try and find and define those "unknown" datas. Anything and everything can be measured, depends for what and how.

It's outside the spreadsheet, because we have yet to bring it in.
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Hey I'm all for it, but know its limitations as others have mentioned, when it comes to a game like hockey. But the real issue here is that the Habs should not have to use a "Billy Beane" style of management, the Habs are one of the richest franchises in the league and have ample money to burn. However when our management burned the money they burned it on players like Gomez, Cammalari, Kaberle. players who were not only overpaid, but had already proved in another uniform that their salary was way too much for what they produce. If Billy Beane had of been given the GM job over Gainey going back 7-8years ago I believe we would be a playoff team hands down. Despite his lack of hockey knowledge.
Billy beane only had the statistical tools, he didn't have the players. I rather go the boston way, and have both

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04-03-2012, 01:52 PM
  #87
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I am not totally disagreeing with you here Lafleurs Guy (especially with post #75) - analytics, modelizations… are decision making tools *1 designed to help the decison makers. They are not a substitute for the decisions makers! - but just to keep the discussion going forwards... Mathletic already provided an interesting answer to your objection:

Quote: "... Whatever ratings will basically work from top down if I can put it this way ... whether it's a win shares system, point contribution, WAR, adjusted +/- and so on ... They will calculate how much of an impact a player had, say defensively, on his team compared to a replacement player. That is, how much better is Chara defensively compared to a border line AHL/NHL d-man for example.

Ratings, in general, don't compute that a guy made 65 hits so he gets that much credit for defense plus 105 blocked shots, so he gets that many more credits and so on.

So, in general, a defensive rating will implicitly include intimidation for example or whatever intangible you may think of. Since, if Chara actually scares player to the point that they won't drive the net as much than if player X was on the ice ... who's borderline AHL/NHL ... instead of Chara then it will reflect in his defensive stats whether rates of shots/against, goals/against, adjusted +/- or whatever system you use
..." (end quote) - Ref.: post #66

*1 In French: outils d'aide à la décision.
I get this in principle. I get what this is supposed to do... but how accurate is it? I've seen WARP and VORP stat applied in Sabremetrics for baseball and it's problematic there too. First you need to define what an average replacement player looks like. Second, in hockey it would be harder to capture because there's a goalie on the ice stopping pucks. How many of those pucks are stopped because Thomas is awesome vs. Chara helping to prevent the goals? It's a symbiotic relationship right?

I understand the intention here and I applaud the attempt but it's abstract in baseball. WARP is one of my least favourite stats there due to the problems I mentioned above. Apply it to hockey? Man...

However, let's take a look.

Who are the top ten at each position in WARP? Who are the top ten in defensive rating among defensemen? Let's take a look.
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Originally Posted by uiCk View Post
I think this is big misconception of the utility of statistics in general. One knows the limits of a statistical model. To advance in it, you try and find and define those "unknown" datas. Anything and everything can be measured, depends for what and how.

It's outside the spreadsheet, because we have yet to bring it in.

Billy beane only had the statistical tools, he didn't have the players. I rather go the boston way, and have both
That's another thing that I've mentioned here. Hockey is at the dawn of SABR. I think that it will improve as more statiticians develop more stats. Right now though? It's interesting, has value but I don't think it's at the stage where you can build a team solely with SABR.

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04-03-2012, 01:59 PM
  #88
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I told you when we made those moves three years ago it would lead us nowhere. I told you that we weren't going to be able to score goals and would struggle if Price faltered. It's three years later and all of this stuff has continued to happen. Our CORSI is apparently great and yet JM has only managed to average 90 points over an 82 game schedule for three years. If our microstats were so good, then why have we been so mediocre?
We're derailing the thread and I should know better than to get into this argument with you again, but I think it bears pointing out that your recollection of the events may be a bit... off. And you may be misrepresenting what I say as a result, so for the record:

Montreal's microstats were horrible in 09-10. Ghastly, godawful, bottom-5-in-NHL awful. Maybe you weren't paying attention, maybe you just forgot, but I spent much of that year whining about it. They ended up riding absurd goaltending and a strong PP to the playoffs in a weak conference, despite a 5-on-5 game best described as abysmal. We had a lot of fun in the playoffs, but the run was no different than the regular season: constantly outplayed and surviving on goaltending.

They were terrible. I personally blamed Martin which, in hindsight, was either wrong or premature, because he completely turned it around the very next year (he had much better personnel to work with).

Montreal's microstats in 10-11 were very good. Unfortunately, they couldn't buy a goal, which is a "luck" thing, but there's no denying the club was far superior 5-on-5 despite this and it was, again, buoyed by strong special teams. The Habs were five wins better than the previous season (a significant amount). They slightly outplayed the Bruins the playoffs, but Tim Thomas Halaked them.

Montreal's microstats in 11-12 started out excellent, despite a punishing injury situation. And the 5-on-5 goals for/against numbers matched that, showing another leap of improvement. Despite all the injuries, Montreal had excellent 5-on-5 and excellent PK. The PP was not generating goals, but it was generating shots, so this was bound to turn around. The Habs had trouble with narrowly losing games, often after dominating play. This happens and it's generally not a bad sign because teams that lose this way tend to win in the long run. It was an extremely promising season despite the record and the injuries. Then Gauthier panicked, Cunneyworth happened, and Montreal's microstats, goals, and record went entirely to pot.

So yeah, lumping the three years together will paint a picture and that picture will be muddied and inaccurate. We're not talking hypothetical intangibles that may or may not affect the game. These were significant differences between the three seasons in the way the team played and the results they got. Analytics help us see and understand these changes but really, they ought to be obvious if one simply paid attention to more than the boxscores.

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04-03-2012, 02:03 PM
  #89
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Because it should be blindingly obvious. Intangibles that don't affect the game, well, they don't affect the game. Analytics only concern themselves with things that affect the game.
I've thrown an objection at you that I think is an interesting one. Can stats measure the difference between a hit from Chara vs. one from Desharnais? And the fact is that we really can't measure it.

Just because it's not able to be measured though... doesn't mean that it isn't affecting the outcome of the game.
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Yes, they would. If it affects the game in a significant manner, they would pick it up.

In all honesty, I think think you know what analytics are and how they work, but you really don't and I don't think you're interested in updating your view.

Frankly, it makes the entire argument rather frustrating. It ends up with you questioning the blindingly obvious.

For example: defense isn't necessarily measurable? Seriously? It should be obvious that it is, in goals against if nothing else, but there are many different ways to do this and they all provide different information.

And on an even more basic, more obvious level: if defense weren't measurable, then there would be no way to be sure that Gorges is better than Kaberle defensively, now, would there be?
Okay, I'll rephrase it... defense isn't ENTIRELY measurable. SABR will give you an idea, a snapshot of a defender but there are limitations to what it can show.

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04-03-2012, 02:05 PM
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I think this is big misconception of the utility of statistics in general. One knows the limits of a statistical model. To advance in it, you try and find and define those "unknown" datas. Anything and everything can be measured, depends for what and how.

It's outside the spreadsheet, because we have yet to bring it in.

(...)
"... It's outside the spreadsheet, because we have yet to bring it in..."



That's 1984 terrifying!

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04-03-2012, 02:19 PM
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The starting point for the SABR people is that hits don't win games... runs do. It matters how many times you score.

In hockey it's the same principle. Scoring is all that matters.
Incorrect. In hockey, outscoring matters. Unlike baseball, players do both offense and defense at the same time, and at any time a play can turn with one to the other. A goal prevented has exactly the same value as a goal scored.

What analytics do is work on what generates outscoring, what is in a player's control, and what isn't and is more a matter of circumstance and chance.

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Points in hockey aren't the equivalent to RBIs in baseball.
Actually, if we're discussing bad cross-sport analogies, assists would be like RBIs. Goals would be runs scored. Shot-based metrics would be things like OBP and slugging percentages.

And really, the fact is that baseball just doesn't have the combined offense and defense makes those analogies godawful, but that's at least illustrative.

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We've seen Crosby's CORSI lower than Gomez and Tanguay's and yet he's ten times the players they are. How do we know this? Because he scores points (the objective of hockey is to score more than your opponents) at a much higher rate.
Heh. I'll let you guess who leads the league in Corsi right now.

Incidentally, Corsi on its own only tells you part of the story. It's important to consider context such as strength of opposition and teammates as well as where the player starts his shifts. Current score is also a factor.

Corsi, and this is important, Corsi does not purport to predict who is a good scorer. Corsi is a measure of puck possession, and it is about measuring the main factor that drives outscoring. It also restricts itself to even-strength, so it has no predictive power on special teams. There is more to analytics than Corsi.

Total points lump goals, assists, special teams, even strength together and makes exactly zero provision for defense which is half the game. As a measure of player ability, it is very deficient, regardless of what one might think of other metrics.

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A colour blind person wouldn't know to look for red to begin with. He'd have to be told by somebody else that 'red' actually existed in the first place.
I'll make sure to tell physicists that they can't possibly have discovered infrared and ultraviolet light, since we're all blind to those.

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Maybe he's the designated scapegoat for good reason. Maybe he doesn't hustle to get back into plays or just flat out doesn't care if he helps the team win. Maybe he can't score a goal to save his life.
Maybe, but in my experience, it's because someone has to be the designated scapegoat and whoever doesn't score as much as people think they should will end up being it. From then on, they're either a lazy bum or hopelessly immature, regardless of actual performance or anything they might actually do.

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It's not about 'looks' though. Nobody has brought up 'looks'...
That is the ONLY way anyone has ever brought up work ethic. By saying, implicitly or explicitly, that the player looks like he's not working.

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04-03-2012, 02:23 PM
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I've thrown an objection at you that I think is an interesting one. Can stats measure the difference between a hit from Chara vs. one from Desharnais? And the fact is that we really can't measure it.
Is the difference significant for anything except their impact on the play of the game?

Measuring the difference between the strength of the hits doesn't particularly matter. What matters is that Chara is a strong defensive player and hitting is part and parcel of this. A guy who achieves similar defensive results without hitting as hard will obviously be stronger in other areas of the game (Lidstrom, say), but for analytics what really matters is "how good is the player defensively".

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Okay, I'll rephrase it... defense isn't ENTIRELY measurable. SABR will give you an idea, a snapshot of a defender but there are limitations to what it can show.
I don't think anyone claimed there wasn't going to be a margin of error. A probabilistic model pretty much presupposes it.

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04-03-2012, 02:44 PM
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I've thrown an objection at you that I think is an interesting one. Can stats measure the difference between a hit from Chara vs. one from Desharnais? And the fact is that we really can't measure it.

Just because it's not able to be measured though... doesn't mean that it isn't affecting the outcome of the game.
I'll ask the question - does it matter? Does it matter that Chara hits like a truck and Desharnais is a lightweight? They both throw a hit and get the same "stats". They both (presumably) accomplish the same thing, which is to knock the puck carrier off the puck.

Desharnais goes into the corner, gives someone a light bump but enough to get him off the puck, then turns around and fires a pass off somewhere. 1 hit for Desharnais.

Chara flattens a winger coming down the boards who proceeds to fall down and lose the puck. 1 hit for Chara.

Does it matter to the outcome of a hockey game that Chara's hit was more powerful?

It's been said many times, but if there really is a difference, it will show up in measurable stats - Boston will have great defensive numbers becuase the other team is too intimidated and terrified to even try to take shots at the net, or the guy on the receiving end will be injured and the rest of the team will play with a shortened bench and less talent, meaning Boston should improve their defensive numbers. And so on.

What if it's not Chara, what if it's Phaneuf? We assume the "big hit" is a positive, but what if it's Phaneuf who goes 30 feet out of position to run a guy who has already passed the puck? The "big hit" is apparently more meaningful than a light Desharnais bump, but it cost the Leafs a goal as Phaneuf is lost, setting up a 2-on-1 on an AHL calibre goaltender. In that case, the "big hit" is actually a negative. So in theory, you should be measuring a hit's effectiveness, it's ability to give your team puck possession. How hard the hit was matters far less.

Measure the result, not a qualitative opinion of the action itself.

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04-03-2012, 03:00 PM
  #94
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I've thrown an objection at you that I think is an interesting one. Can stats measure the difference between a hit from Chara vs. one from Desharnais? And the fact is that we really can't measure it.

Just because it's not able to be measured though... doesn't mean that it isn't affecting the outcome of the game.

Okay, I'll rephrase it... defense isn't ENTIRELY measurable. SABR will give you an idea, a snapshot of a defender but there are limitations to what it can show.

Show me one person here who gives a fig about hit counts and you might have an argument here.


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I understand the philosophy... I do. But there are still limitations in what it shows.

Not sure if there are any philosophy students but I'll give an example of Immanuel Kant's 'veil of perception' here.

In a nutshell Kant argues that our senses (sight, touch, sound, taste, smell) allow us to perceive the world. Those senses are a gift in the sense that it allows the perceiver to process information out there outside of ourselves in the world. However, we are LIMITED to perceiving the world only via these senses. We can never know the 'thing in itself' beyond those five senses. Just as our senses give us the ability to perceive things in the real world, they limit us to only perceiving things within those parameters.

Imagine a person who is completely colour blind. This person would never know that an object was red or green... He wouldn't even know colours existed except that he's told by others that they do.

That's kind of what analytics is like. It gives you the ability to measure some things and draw conclusions from the data. But it's limited. It doesn't capture everything.

Moreover, there's the problem of 'counting things' themselves. There is subjectivity involved in what constitutes a takeaway or giveaway... one person may count it one way and for another person it's a completely different value set. That's why you see discrepencies from arena to arena. Those discrepencies can have a fairly significant effect on the data depending on who wide the discrepencies are. In some arenas almost everything is a takeaway, in others... they are barely counted at all. Who decides the standards here?

Relying solely on analytics is like being colour blind. You close yourself off from what's happening on the ice when you're only studying a spreadsheet. Mathman has argued that different people may argue over whether a certain player is effective or not and stats are what tell the story. Well... it depends on what stats you are looking at. Scott Gomez apparently has great puck possession skills. Well, I'd agree that he takes the puck and gains the opposing zone like a champ. But then nothing happens. I know this because I've WATCHED him. Apparently Gomez had a good defense rating too... well, I've seen him completely quit on plays as well. You could argue that the number of times where he's been defensively responsible is far more than the number of times that he wasn't effective... but he's QUIT on the play. I know this as well because I've seen it happen.

Someone above said it was a pet peeve of his when people said 'you can make stats say anything you want'... well, in some ways you can. Numbers are just that... raw data. But there's a whole slew of numbers you can look at. If Gomez isn't putting up points then I'd say that his CORSI doesn't matter to me a whole lot. At the end of the day, you have to produce. Totals DO matter. I get the whole 'luck' argument, but come on... at some point those totals matter. And Gomez is no longer a benefit to our club. That's why everyone can't wait to get rid of him.
Also show me someone here that cares about giveaway/takeaways. I think you're building strawmen to knock down.

Your being awfully specious here.

You've gone on record previously for caring a lot whether Montreal has things like top 10 in the league point scorers and 30 goal men. The epistomoligical basis for these things mattering is probably weaker then the newer measurements. Point totals suffer from the same problems a corsi rating have and add a number of other ones when making evaluations. People starting caring about these things after a somewhat scientific process of observation, hypothesis and testing.


You claim that goals and points are the equivalent of runs in baseball. Claiming this ironically misses the point of hockey being a more complex game. Hockey is played on both offense and defense simultaneously and that is something that must be accounted for. Its a game of differentials not absolute numbers which is the big flaw of looking at points in a vacuum.

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04-03-2012, 03:27 PM
  #95
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Incorrect. In hockey, outscoring matters. Unlike baseball, players do both offense and defense at the same time, and at any time a play can turn with one to the other. A goal prevented has exactly the same value as a goal scored.

What analytics do is work on what generates outscoring, what is in a player's control, and what isn't and is more a matter of circumstance and chance.



Actually, if we're discussing bad cross-sport analogies, assists would be like RBIs. Goals would be runs scored. Shot-based metrics would be things like OBP and slugging percentages.

And really, the fact is that baseball just doesn't have the combined offense and defense makes those analogies godawful, but that's at least illustrative.
It does have this. It's called WARP. For offense only it's called VORP.

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Heh. I'll let you guess who leads the league in Corsi right now.
Is it Grabovski? Because he apparently led the league last year. Clarke MacArthur was 3rd. Pavel Dastsyuk is 78th.

So... ?????
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Incidentally, Corsi on its own only tells you part of the story. It's important to consider context such as strength of opposition and teammates as well as where the player starts his shifts. Current score is also a factor.

Corsi, and this is important, Corsi does not purport to predict who is a good scorer. Corsi is a measure of puck possession, and it is about measuring the main factor that drives outscoring. It also restricts itself to even-strength, so it has no predictive power on special teams. There is more to analytics than Corsi.

Total points lump goals, assists, special teams, even strength together and makes exactly zero provision for defense which is half the game. As a measure of player ability, it is very deficient, regardless of what one might think of other metrics.
We know it measures puck possession. However, it seems to be misused on this board as the be all and end all of stats. Gomez isn't producing? It's okay, his CORSI is amazing, he's doing great!

As for totals... if a player scores on a consistent basis no matter where he plays, then it's an indicator that the guy can put the puck in the net. If the microstats don't jive with this then it's the microstats that are problematic not the other way around. The purpose of microstats is to help you win games and you need to score to win. Yes, you need to keep the puck out of your own end too but at the end of the day if you're always bottom 3rd in goals for (as we always seem to be) then it's going to be a lot harder. And if the microstats don't jive with say... Brett Hull, then I'd say there's something wrong with them. Goals Vs Threshold is the equivalent of WARP (problematic in itself.) Maybe that stat will pick it up if CORSI doens't. But if the numbers don't jive together (as we've seen CORSI doesn't in some cases) then I'd say that the stat doesn't have the use that you're purporting that it does.
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I'll make sure to tell physicists that they can't possibly have discovered infrared and ultraviolet light, since we're all blind to those.
You keep dismissing this but you should take it more seriously.

If nobody knows that red exists... they won't try to look for it. Moreover, if you do know it's there you still won't be able to 'SEE' it's true nature... what it LOOKS like. As uick said... it may not have been looked at yet. And there's no doubt that the analytics will improve as it progresses but as it stands I don't see analytics as warranting the importance that you give it.
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Maybe, but in my experience, it's because someone has to be the designated scapegoat and whoever doesn't score as much as people think they should will end up being it. From then on, they're either a lazy bum or hopelessly immature, regardless of actual performance or anything they might actually do.
Players turn it around with good performances. Price did this two years ago. The papers were sharpening their blades but he actually played good hockey. Gomez wasn't either capable or willing to do it. That's why he gets slammed.
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That is the ONLY way anyone has ever brought up work ethic. By saying, implicitly or explicitly, that the player looks like he's not working.
Or maybe he actually ISN'T working. Maybe he's under the influence of something (not saying Gomez is.) Many players out there have seen their play deteriorate because of outside factors. Sometimes players do actually quit or give up. Gomez doesn't always give up but sometimes he does and that's part of the reason why the fans can't stand him. And it was the same with Jeremy Giambi.

No GM even in baseball would just look at a spreadsheet and build a team the way you're suggesting. It's been tried before and was a howling failure. With some adjustment though it was a grand success. SABR is a valuable tool in baseball and it drives a lot of decision making. But you can't just let it wag the dog. And hockey isn't nearly as stat friendly.

There's more to building a team than just stats. That's why teams interview kids before drafting them. That's why Brian Fogarty slipped to 9th instead of going top 3 in the 1987 draft. You need to do more homework that just look at a spreadsheet man.


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04-03-2012, 03:42 PM
  #96
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We know it measures puck possession. However, it seems to be misused on this board as the be all and end all of stats. Gomez isn't producing? It's okay, his CORSI is amazing, he's doing great!
The point was always that Gomez's production would turn around because his puck possession hadn't changed, his shot generation hadn't changed, his chance generation hadn't changed only the shooting percentage had changed and that had been shown to regress to the mean. Of course, that implied "all other things being equal". Which didn't turn out to be the case: notably, he's on his fourth significant injury this year.

His on-ice shooting percentage, however, regressed right to the mean as predicted.

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As for totals... if a player scores on a consistent basis no matter where he plays, then it's an indicator that the guy can put the puck in the net. If the microstats don't jive with this then it's the microstats that are problematic not the other way around.
Again, the implicit, unsupported assumption that points total is more significant than microstats.

This is tantamount to saying "microstats don't agree with me and therefore are valueless".

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You keep dismissing this but you should take it more seriously.
I'm taking this as seriously as it deserves. It's a terrible example and I'm not sure what you're trying to illustrate with it. We've discovered any number of things we didn't know existed 100, 50, 20, 10 years ago. Notably infrared and ultraviolet light, which are explicitly ranges of color that are not perceived by the human eye. Nobody knew that existed yet they went looking for it and they found it.

And do we know what the "true nature" of ultraviolet light is? I think we have a pretty damned good idea, yes.

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No GM even in baseball would just look at a spreadsheet and build a team the way you're suggesting. It's been tried before and was a howling failure.
I'm avoiding most of the baseball arguments (Giambi, especially) because I'm not familiar with them, but I'm curious about this: which "howling failure" are you referring to here?

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04-03-2012, 03:43 PM
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Is the difference significant for anything except their impact on the play of the game?
Impossible to quantify. It's like the colour red for a colour blind person. I suspect that it does because guys like Pronger keep going back to the Stanley Cup finals on bad teams. But I guess there's no direct way to show it right?

That doesn't mean that the effect does not exist.
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Measuring the difference between the strength of the hits doesn't particularly matter. What matters is that Chara is a strong defensive player and hitting is part and parcel of this. A guy who achieves similar defensive results without hitting as hard will obviously be stronger in other areas of the game (Lidstrom, say), but for analytics what really matters is "how good is the player defensively".
Well, Lidstrom has been on much better teams that Pronger has. Would Lidstrom have taken Edmonton to the finals? I don't know but Pronger was able to do this. And it's not a fluke either. Edmonton was destined to miss the postseason altogether that year but Pronger returns and they turn into the hottest team in the league and make the finals.

Chara joins the Bruins and Thomas who's been a journeyman goalie all his life becomes a Vezina winner. Maybe it's coincidence but maybe there's more going on here than can be quantified. I know as a scout though I'd be taking these facts into consideration.

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04-03-2012, 03:44 PM
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I'll ask the question - does it matter? Does it matter that Chara hits like a truck and Desharnais is a lightweight? They both throw a hit and get the same "stats". They both (presumably) accomplish the same thing, which is to knock the puck carrier off the puck.

Desharnais goes into the corner, gives someone a light bump but enough to get him off the puck, then turns around and fires a pass off somewhere. 1 hit for Desharnais.

Chara flattens a winger coming down the boards who proceeds to fall down and lose the puck. 1 hit for Chara.

Does it matter to the outcome of a hockey game that Chara's hit was more powerful?

It's been said many times, but if there really is a difference, it will show up in measurable stats - Boston will have great defensive numbers becuase the other team is too intimidated and terrified to even try to take shots at the net, or the guy on the receiving end will be injured and the rest of the team will play with a shortened bench and less talent, meaning Boston should improve their defensive numbers. And so on.

What if it's not Chara, what if it's Phaneuf? We assume the "big hit" is a positive, but what if it's Phaneuf who goes 30 feet out of position to run a guy who has already passed the puck? The "big hit" is apparently more meaningful than a light Desharnais bump, but it cost the Leafs a goal as Phaneuf is lost, setting up a 2-on-1 on an AHL calibre goaltender. In that case, the "big hit" is actually a negative. So in theory, you should be measuring a hit's effectiveness, it's ability to give your team puck possession. How hard the hit was matters far less.

Measure the result, not a qualitative opinion of the action itself.
The result may be in the win column. It's just hard to show the direct link because hockey is a fluid game with lots of variables. But those hits in the corner have an effect. We just can't measure it. It's just a limitation that currently exists. It doesn't mean that the effect isn't there or isn't important... we just don't know how important it is.

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04-03-2012, 03:52 PM
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Show me one person here who gives a fig about hit counts and you might have an argument here.

Also show me someone here that cares about giveaway/takeaways. I think you're building strawmen to knock down.

Your being awfully specious here.
I'm pointing out the weakness in the 'counting' methodology using a stark example of stats that are actually counted by the NHL itself. That's not the same thing as building a straw man argument. It's illustrative to showing you that the very foundation of SABR in hockey (counting) can be problematic in itself.
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You've gone on record previously for caring a lot whether Montreal has things like top 10 in the league point scorers and 30 goal men. The epistomoligical basis for these things mattering is probably weaker then the newer measurements. Point totals suffer from the same problems a corsi rating have and add a number of other ones when making evaluations. People starting caring about these things after a somewhat scientific process of observation, hypothesis and testing.
I do care if Montreal has those kinds of players. I think that they give you a big advantage in trying to win cups. It can be done without them as we've seen but it's awfully tough to win cups without at least some kind of superstar on it. Maybe it's a goalie or maybe a blueliner but I do absoluletly believe that having a top scorer on your team makes things a lot easier.

Go count the cup winners and how many HOFers are on them. Every cup winning team up until 2000 has at least one on it. Most have several. And most have top scorers too. Why wouldn't we want this?
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You claim that goals and points are the equivalent of runs in baseball. Claiming this ironically misses the point of hockey being a more complex game. Hockey is played on both offense and defense simultaneously and that is something that must be accounted for. Its a game of differentials not absolute numbers which is the big flaw of looking at points in a vacuum.
I was going to post this in my above response to Mathman... I had written an additional paragraph in my post that got deleted where I talked about outscoring the opponent. Doesn't matter anyway... you're right the RUNs to Points relation isn't a good analogy. I was just trying to point out that in James' philosophy he's focusing on RUNs and production vs hits. You're right hockey is a fluid game and it was a bad point on that.

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04-03-2012, 03:53 PM
  #100
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Impossible to quantify.
Cop-out.

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Well, Lidstrom has been on much better teams that Pronger has. Would Lidstrom have taken Edmonton to the finals? I don't know but Pronger was able to do this.
Are you seriously saying that you honestly believe that a single player can singlehandedly make a Cup contender of an otherwise non-playoff team? Do you have any idea how much such a player would be worth?

Was Halak such a player, or was that a fluke but Pronger wasn't?

Seriously, you do realize that the playoffs are a small sample and that a player or team can get hot on small samples, right? Pronger is a very good player, but he's not that intrinsic to his team's success. If he were, the Flyers would have crashed by now. Pronger isn't why Pisani scored 14 goals in 24 games, or why Roloson goaled at .927 (and if he were why were, why wasn't he able to do the same thing for Markkanen)?

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Chara joins the Bruins and Thomas who's been a journeyman goalie all his life becomes a Vezina winner. Maybe it's coincidence but maybe there's more going on here than can be quantified. I know as a scout though I'd be taking these facts into consideration.
If it were me, I'd wonder why the Sens were so infamously plagued by bad goaltending during all the years they had Chara in.

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