Embracing Advanced Stats

I must be feeling quite masochistic today, because I've decided that I would like to start a large-scale Hockey Wilderness discussion about the blog possibly incorporating advanced statistics into posts this season from time to time. Put your dukes up, Wilderness, it's time for an argument.


(A picture of a leprechaun fighting Bono, because Ireland)

Before I start things off, I must clarify, I've read the editorial stance on advanced stats and I completely understand it.

I've only been a hockey fan for around 18 months, and for the most part I've been aware of advanced stats without really understanding them. I would see in-depth posts about them on other blogs around SBNation, which, if I attempted to read, just caused my eyes to glaze over and my brain to start screaming.

But lately I've come to realise that one of the reasons I've recently fallen out of love with the mainstream sports over here (soccer, rugby, GAA) and fallen in-love with NHL and NFL is because North American sports use so much statistical analysis which makes them much more interesting and gives fans so much more stuff to chew over and discuss.

I don't feel that advanced stats are the be all and end all of an argument, nor do I think they have great value in predicting the future. What they can do is give another perspective for discussion on something. For example, I can say that I think Zach Parise is an excellent forward because when I watch him play I see him doing everything really well on the ice....but then I can also go and look at in-depth stats about how he plays to see how well what I see translates onto the stat sheet. Neither way is right or wrong, just two ways to analyse a player, and two things for us to discuss and debate. I feel like if we choose to ignore advanced stats then we're missing out on a whole pile of subject matter for discussion throughout the season.

One thing that seems to turn people off (particularly in this community) advanced statistical analysis is the whole area of "stat-boys", these guys who's opinions on hockey live and die by what the stat sheet says and who feel personally insulted when someone doesn't see things the way they do because they are so heavily "into" advanced stats. I don't agree with the way they analyse and discuss hockey, and they deserve the ill-feelings that everyone harbors for them, but I think it's wrong to dismiss the use of advanced stats just because of those annoying assholes.


(Stats nerds, like all the time, probably)

I read back over a couple of FanPosts from a few months ago which touched on the area of advanced stats (This one by Justin from "Matchsticks & Gasoline ......and this one by our own Hagendas"), and the comment sections showed that there are quite a few members of this community who seem to be open to the idea of having more stats-based content, which is good to hear.

Today, while browsing around, I came across this FanShot, so I followed the link and decided that I would do my best to try and understand the article and learn something about advanced stats. I found it quite easy to follow and very interesting, particularly because it comes from a Wild perspective. I ended up reading a bunch of other stuff on that site and, now that i'm starting to understand it, I would like to see more of that kind of thing in our own community for us all to discuss.

I'm not trying to be a trouble-making asshole here (well, not entirely anyway), I just want this community to be as inclusive, interesting and discussion-y as possible. The more stuff we have to talk about, the better...right?

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Feel free to give your own opinion in the comment section as i'm curious to see how the rest of you feel about this....and if you want to hurl some abuse my way, then have at it...I can take it.

Over and out, Wilderness.


P.S. Hey Bryan! It would be awesome if you would put this on the front page so that as many readers as possible get involved in this discussion. I'll buy you a bottle of whiskey or something.

The opinions posted here are not those of Hockey Wilderness

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