Do I Hate Hockey Stats? 'Corsi' Do. by @ChicksDigHockey - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Do I Hate Hockey Stats? 'Corsi' Do. by @ChicksDigHockey

Brian Blystone

I hate statistics. They are an attempt to put things in order through confusion. The men in my TL have suddenly become infatuated by seemingly meaningless comparisons and strings of numbers peppered with percentages.  Sports dudes love to throw a percentage or two in their discussion, in order to make their arguments more bullet proof. So, we love the results, that more often, we do not care to understand properly, and we hate the method that shows us that we are shallow.

I think statistics are uninteresting because they don’t prove anything with certainty. They force the decision making process through a set of tools that doesn’t tell you what is true, only what is unlikely. Wading through them is the equivalent of wearing high heels in gravel. 

Brian Burke, famed curmudgeon, was once quoted as saying, “There has not been a statistical breakthrough in hockey yet,’’ said Burke. “Baseball was made for this . . . In hockey, stats are like a lamp post to a drunk - they’re useful for support, but not for illumination.’’

Stats people are so smug. They are the math geeks from high school all grown up with a little coin to spare. Such geek revelations are often right because they define the outcome before stating the fact. It’s like saying Jussi Jokinen scores a goal every time I stand in my underwear in the kitchen and drink coffee the morning of the game. You gotta be in awe of whoever figured that out (I think it was the guy in the apartment across the street).

Now we don’t just have stats; we have advanced stats. Advanced stats, metrics and analytics, or “fancy stats” as many have come to lovingly/mockingly refer to them, are really just the initial stages of a movement to bring hockey analysis to the forefront of boring. Why make a simple game difficult?

I love ‘Plus/Minus’. Do I need to learn Corsi and Fenwick? Corsi  = shots on goal + missed shots + blocked shots while Fenwick = shots on goal + missed shots. So what? All you need to know is what Evgeni Malkin said, “Sid puck me, I’m score.” Why doesn’t some genius come up with a ‘Geno number’?

Then, there is the demand to be logical. The stats geeks must analyze hockey until it’s about as pleasurable as sitting through a third grade piano recital. Why does every Twitter GM have to watch the game with calculator in hand and fire stats at those of us who watch for fun in order to make us feel inferior?

There's more to hockey than shots for and against. Drink beer! Curse the officials. Yell, “Shoot the Puck”….CF% be damned.


  1. That was an amazing article, the charts especially were glorious. I agree with Burke, the numbers are good for supporting what your eyes tell you, you can look back at the numbers and get an idea of who has been playing well and who has struggled. But far too often amateur prognosticators try to use the data to predict future trends and say one player is better than another because he shoots more or happens to be on the ice at the same time as other players who shoot more. I think that is where the illumination part comes in, as the fancystats can't actually tell us the things many claim they do, and by themselves are completely meaningless without the additional support of actual goal scoring and the unquantifiable aspects that can only be seen by actually watching a player play.

  2. This is an awesome article. I've been through 3rd grade piano recitals!! lol. I propose a fan statistical chart... the number of penalties taken by your fav team + number of scoring chances by their competition is directly proportional to the amount of cheese curls I down!!

  3. This was tremendous. I do think that stats serve a purpose but only to a certain extent. For every statistic there is a way to also refute it with other ones. One stat like corsi certainly doesn't tell the entire story. Also, this post was satire, as someone that checks advanced stats I was not offended by it. You don't like advanced stats, that doesn't hurt me at all.


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