## Advanced Stats: Has hockey achieved it’s E=MC^2 moment?

Posted: 07/21/2013 by bc in Uncategorized
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Imagine success in hockey explained by a number. We do right. It’s called Wins. Naw, we’re not talkin’ after the fact though. Many claim there’s a new way of looking at the game that is so powerful, it’s predictive of future results. Never mind that the claims aren’t supported by facts.

We’re talkin’ Corsi and all its permutations, Corsi/Fenwick, Fenwick Close and something called PDO that is unrepresentative of its meaning. Yeah, an acronym absent any meaning whatsoever. PDO is shooting percentage plus save percentage.

First a little history;

What happened was a guy named Jim Corsi, goalie consultant with the Buffalo Sabres liked to study how much work goalies actually do during a game. So, he began tracking shots, attempted shots, missed and even blocked shots. His very valid theory, is an attempt to measure (quantify) how much work a goalie actually does during a game.

Well, along comes this guy, an engineer named Gabriel Desjardins who looked at Corsi’s work and had an epiphany. Dangerous things epiphanies. Anyway, Desjardins figured that when teams have the puck in ES situations, that they are singularly focused on creating a shot on the opposing goal.

Yeah, yeah, we all know better but, let’s not the facts get in the way of a good theory.

Eureka! Here’s the epiphany part. Desjardins credited the value +1 to the shot taking team and the players on the ice. He also charged a -1 to the team and players who gave up the shots.

In the middle of this, along comes a guy named Fenwick who mused, take out the blocked shots.

Desjardins then concludes that shots indicate possession. Teams that take the most shots, possess the puck most often, ergo these are the teams and players most likely to be successful in the NHL.

Desjardins went on to create a website, behindthenet.com that has achieved cult standing among some reporters and some hockey fans.  The inconvenient truth being that Desjardins needed to hang his notion on the back and work of a pro, hence the name Corsi.

Anybody notice how far removed Desjardin’s Corsi has moved away from the original study of how much work goalies do? Such it is with frauds, charlatans and the merely misguided followers.

If there were any validity to Desjardins’ notion, we’d see PDO reflected in team standings, players stats and salaries.

Yesterday, Matt Fenwick tweeted:

If possession was the be-all-end-all, no one would ever dump the puck in. Or out.

btw, the goal with Corsi & its variants was to establish a proxy for scoring chances, not for possession per se.

(((DOH))) why did Fenwick have to say that? Doesn’t he know how much ego is invested in the Advanced Stat movement? Doesn’t he care that he could be demystified by the legions of charlatans spreading Desjardins’ Advanced Stat gospel?

There are so many erroneous assumptions in Desjardins work. About the only thing he and his proponents prove is that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.

On page one of his website, Desjardins advocates the predictive capacity of his stat analyses and links gambling sites where you can put your money behind his theory.

Now you know what this stuff is really all about. A guy got a theory and monetizes it as a gambling tool all the while supported by legions of wannabe experts in mainstream media, the blogosphere and in the Twitterverse.

Many of these folks claim that Alain Vigneault applies Advanced Stats in his coaching strategy. Coach Vigneault does send out his better scoring lines to take offensive zone faceoffs. Conversely, he uses his checking lines most often to take defensive zone faceoffs. Really? Coach Vigneault needs an Advanced Stat to help him make that decision? That’s laughable.

Fact is, there is no stat to explain or substitute for team chemistry, willingness to sacrifice, play through injury, backchecks, forechecks, saucer passes, creativity, positioning or in short, all of the reasons why we play, study and love this game.

## Sport science shows Bruce Boudreau an impressive innovator

Posted: 01/18/2013 by bc in Uncategorized
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It’s often easy to overlook intelligence. Especially when that mind is housed in a roly- poly rib lover’s body, given to one syllable words and short sentences littered with F-bombs.

The Vancouver Canucks are using science to do what Coach Boudreau does from his experience and intuitive knowledge base. Immersed in advanced stats, Coach Vigneault sends the Sedin Twins over the board to take offensive zone face offs at previously unheard of rates. In an effort that shows less is sometimes more Nucks 3rd and 4th lines often see 15 and 10 minutes of TOI respectively. Get more from your depth lines and your top lines are fresher during the game and longer into the season and playoffs.

I don’t know that our Ducks use compression machines to force lactic acid from tired legs. It’s doubtful that our Ducks brain trust would consult a group like Fatigue Science that studies sleep patterns for the U.S military.

Bruce Boudreau seems to have arrived at many of these same conclusions by the application of common sense and maybe a well-timed F-bomb or two. Coach doesn’t need a PHD in psychology to know that he’s more effective using positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement.

Gabby kinda sorta just figured out that if you roll four lines, get everybody involved in the game, spread out your scoring assets, let your best face off guy take the important face offs, put all of your guys in situations where they’re most likely to succeed by employing your assets effectively, you just might turn a loser into a winner. At least that’s exactly what Coach Boudreau accomplished last season.

The Nucks are throwing gobs of money hiring consultants who apply science to peak performance issues. Who knew that all this time they might have just asked Gabby.

Information found in this article was used extensively to draft this post.