Monday, January 12, 2009


The Bod

Puck Daddy sez:
Plus/minus is a garbage stat, but there's really no logical reason for Carolina Hurricanes center Rod Brind'Amour to be at minus-27, is there?

That's probably a rhetorical question, but here's the deal...

**For starters, at 'true' even strength, he's -18. The other 9 are some combination of:
  1. SH goals scored while Rod is on the PP,
  2. 6-on-5 goals scored by the opposition with their goalie pulled, and
  3. EN goals scored by the opposition while Carolina has their goalie pulled
This is my biggest beef with the +/- stat as it is presently kept. Tracking those 3 kinds of minuses may well be interesting, but they shouldn't be mixed in with the regular kind. Yeah, Brett Hull was a lousy defensive player, but his career +/- is probably 100 lower than it should be simply because he played a lot of powerplay time (where the odd shorthanded goal is inevitable) and very little PK time (where the odd shorthanded goal is inevitable). And this business of pretending a 6-on-5 goal is actually an EV goal is ridiculous, though not quite as ridiculous as handing out pluses and minuses on empty-net goals.

Anyway, where were we? Oh, right. Rod Brind'Amour.

**Carolina, on average, keeps the ice tilted slightly towards the far end. They've had 55 more offensive zone draws at EV than D-zone. A few players have been on for 24 or more O-zone draws than D-zone (Staal, Ruutu, Samsonov, Corvo, Pitkanen). Only one guy has been on for significantly more (37) D-zone draws than O-zone -- one guess who that is.

**Carolina's team EV SV% this season is 0.923. The on-ice EV SV% for every regular player on the team is at least 0.906, except for one guy. One guess who that is.

**Carolina's team EV Shoot% this season is 7.1%. The on-ice EV Shoot% for Justin Williams (missed the first 25 games of the season) is 4.5%; next worst forward at 5.7% is Guess!

Last season, the EV on-ice SV% and Shoot% for Brind'Amour were 0.921 and 8.5% respectively, both slightly better than Carolina's team numbers. He is getting older and is surely slipping a bit, but it's pretty unlikely that he's personally having such a deleterious influence on the quality of shots against: .890 is a lot less than .923. He's being outshot only barely, most of which is attributable to the extra own-zone draws.

I don't really have any grand point here, I just wanted to suggest that there's a 3rd reaction to Bd'A's -27 beyond "He sucks now" and "Plus/minus sucks". The object of this grand game of ours is to outscore the other guy, so the ultimate theoretical player stat is some variation of plus/minus, adjusted for eleventeen factors. Many of which are working against the Bod this season.


Nice stuff, Matt. I think this is pretty well understood by the types that frequent and IOF and probably here too, but it's a very good example.

I would add that some of those mitigating factors might not be all that different for Rod this year. The d-zone draws are the first one that comes to mind and probably one he's probably maintained over the last few years.

Although I think Rod won a Selke, so that year could be the exception. I always get the impression that award tends to go to reputations who aren't real go-to forwards for the year in question.

Plus/minus is a team stat. Brind'Amour is just one of five guys on the ice when that -19 or whatever it is occurs. How responsible was he for those goals against? Or for the goals for?

His team plus/minus rating does not tell us. It tells us only who is on the bus, not who is driving it (and with other team stats, to lesser and great extents, when applied to individual players).

This is the issue I have with traditional plus/minus.

There. I said it. For the millionth time. ;)

P.S. Nice work, Matt, as usual.

My problem is articles like this that chalk it up to Brind'Amour getting worked by top opposition, which he frankly isn't even playing against. Staal has been getting the tough assignments for... three years?

Rod has won two Selkes, back to back, and at least in the second year, he didn't deserve it at all but won for winning a lot of faceoffs.

I'm pretty sure that faceoffs are the only reason that Jarret Stoll get a vote that one year.

Well done, Matt. Of course, I'm just going to ignore this specific lesson because I hate Brind'Amour, but for other skaters I'll definitely start paying attention.


No. 3 is the craziest way to collect a minus. There's no goalie, for cryin' out loud. Why does a skater get tagged for that?


Props on the Nash pimping for Selke last season. Struck me as a bit silly at the time, but Jonathon's numbers are here.

You can get his explanation at coppernblue.blogspot.

His stuff is for the AHL, but his thinking seemed to mirror what I suspect the Wild are doing, granted in a poorer, but completely objective, way. And they have probably been doing for a decade.

You should look at these mostly on a team by team basis, and guys who haven't played much should be ignored with this measure.

A puckdaddy interview with Chris Snow inexplicably linked to a while ago. And I think I know the metric Minny use, and why Miettinen looks so good with the jonathon metric and so poor with the Desjardins qualcomp measure.

All interesting stuff, and hugely important if you are building a team. And that Minny team has improved at evens this year, by the underlying numbers, Gaborik's missed time considered. Luck caught up with them though. Still, good off season moves.

I'm kicking myself for not engaging Dennis on this back when he watched a whack of non-Oiler NHL games. You don't need to be a genius, but you need one or more who have watched a lot of games and DON'T play in hockey fantasy leagues and DON'T play hockey video games. Sailed ships and all that.

Your audience is not going to dig the heavy stuff though. Have you considered also posting those topics it on mc79hockey, or the sites of one of the other Boys From Brazil. If you don't ... well most people who would appreciate it aren't going to see it.


The link above is for Willis qualcomp numbers for the NHL in 07/08.

Ans as an aside, does anyone have any links to Don Zimmer interviews? I remember hearing Dan Patrick interview Don a few years ago espn radio. A bit like a conversation with a cloud, no doubt, but he had some thoughts on clutch hitting that really resonated with me. And I don't even care for baseball. I doubt I'll ever be moved to post on baseball, but I've been reading some stuff lately that's made me wonder id Joe Torre really was the brilliant bench manager that I suspected he was, or if he was just listening to Zimmer. Either way, nobody should be able to hear the music through the noise like that.

No. 3 is the craziest way to collect a minus. There's no goalie, for cryin' out loud. Why does a skater get tagged for that?

No way, dude. With the goalie absent, who else would you blame with the minus than the skater? It seems to me, that minuses should only be handed out in empty net situations, when the skaters don't have a heavily padded goalie to save their asses every time they give the puck away. ;-o

Any chance you could do this for Bertuzzi?

At the end of the day, Brindy is having a terrible season even if you ignore the +/- stat. While he's still winning faceoffs per usual, he's not scoring goals or winning any battles or creating traffic out front or getting his hands dirty in any way. I don't think he's even broken a sweat.

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