NHL Advanced Statistics: New Frontier or Expulsion Island


Many fans love the sport of hockey for many different reasons. It seems like an understatement considering the individual points of view on so many different aspects of the game. Some fans love the physicality and the fighting. Some fans like the pretty passing and highlight reel goals. Some fans like certain players because he plays a distinct style and some fans like teams because they have a strong recognizable team culture. Most of these things are subjective though and anyone is entitled to their own opinion about a certain team or player, but, statistics play a key role in how some fans, analysts, and management assess a player.

No longer do the days in which knowing the bare minimum of traditional statistics is acceptable. Given recent developments in technology and media, statistics are at everyone’s grasp and one must study every statistic possible just to try to keep up with the new gold standard. While advanced statistics open a realm of new objective analysis to maybe a new group of fans, it can alienate fans that are not interested in those things.

Corsi? What the fenwick are you talking about? Corsi and Fenwick are statistics that have recently been more and more discussed in color analysis all the way to hockey chat rooms and message boards. And as you can imagine, there is a wide array of opinions on the subject in all forms of medium. Corsi is shot attempts that are equal to shots plus missed shots plus blocked shots and Fenwick is shots plus missed shots. Those are the two big advanced statistics mentioned by most. There is also PDO. PDO can be looked at in a couple different ways, but, ultimately means the most amount of “luck” with a little bit of variance. PDO is the shooting percentage plus save percentage while on the ice. One team’s possession compared to the opposing team’s possession and a little bit of luck.

From there, there is an entire glossary provided by numerous sites that give their own way(s) of explaining these statistics. Individual player to entire team analysis and comparisons provided given many advanced scenarios. To the point where the NHL has now indoctrinated a whole new system on their website as enhanced stats, but, referring to some under different names. A study was performed at the University of Ottawa to see whether or not these advanced stats could determine success in the league using a Neural Network. That will be the day when writers start predicting outcomes in professional sports competitions. Oh, well, some still do anyways.

There are a couple of glaring issues with the use of advanced statistics: 1) There are intangibles that cannot be measured; and 2) this can ostracize a certain demographic of NHL fans. The former includes effort, emotion, and leadership. The ladder is a more controversial point to make. Advanced statistics are a new frontier and all those who falter will be left behind, right? Asking other fans for insight as to whether they like the introduction of advanced statistics, some fans say they simply stop reading articles or skip chunks of important points that are trying to be made (WriterCorsi=full reads+skipped-through reads+glances).

Personally, I am a fan of advanced statistics just like I am a fan of a lot of genres of music. I can appreciate a beautiful Vivaldi composition just as I can listen to and appreciate an entire NOFX album. Different approaches to harmonious arrangements can ultimately yield the same results. A fan does not need to submerse him/herself in advanced statistics to follow the game they love closely. Hell, Los Angeles Kings defenseman, Drew Doughty thinks “that Corsi is a bunch of crap.” Some appreciate it as a new standard and some can appreciate it from a distance, either way it is nice to know that the NHL is followed so closely.


About Author

From Los Angeles, California, Cole R. Querry grew up in a hotbed of sports entertainment. The bright lights and warm weather had drawn him towards loving hockey. Having played through college, Cole is ready to logically analyze and bring a fresh perspective on all things hockey. Cole R. Querry still resides in Southern California with his beautiful family and will forever follow the sport he loves so much.