Adjusted Plus-Minus: Measuring Defensive Effectiveness

money puck
October 20 2014 12:45PM

#468441193 / gettyimages.com

Alex Edler: actually pretty good at preventing quality shots

Most people in the stats community dislike plus-minus, but my feelings are much stronger than that. I loathe plus-minus. It’s personal. The draft for my keeper league hockey pool was about to start and I was considering taking a flyer on a young Erik Karlsson. He was coming off his 2nd season in the NHL, where he posted an impressive 45 points. However, at minus 30 I figured he must be in for a significant drop in playing time considering he was obviously such a huge defensive liability to his team. Karlsson ended up finding himself on the roster of my arch nemesis, scored an insane 78 points, and hilarity ensued. I hate plus-minus.

In theory, plus-minus should be an immensely useful stat. The team who scores the most goals in a game wins, so by extension it seems to make sense that better defensive players would be on the ice for more goals for than goals against. Unfortunately, because this statistic is so greatly affected by goaltending and team’s on-ice shooting percentage, amongst other factors, the usefulness of plus-minus is negligible and it has been largely abandoned by the stats community.

This got me thinking: while we know plus-minus itself is a useless statistic, is there a way we could more accurately calculate the impact a player has on their terms scoring differential? Or put more simply, can we create a better plus-minus? Read past the jump to find out.

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THE NATION MINUTE

Nation World HQ
October 20 2014 11:45AM

The Nation Network brings you the Nation Minute, a rapid fire look at stats and news around the network or NHL. On tap this week: The Canucks offense, Jonas Hiller, Ben Scrivens, Mark Fayne and more.

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Drance Numbers - Fun with Small Samples

Thomas Drance
October 20 2014 10:44AM

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It's early in the season, the Canucks are 3-1-0 mostly on the backs of beating woeful Alberta-based teams, and there's still an awful lot of noise present in the underlying data. 

While we can infer some things about the club based on the roster, the eye-test, and the past performances of some of the club's personnel, the truth is, it's too early still. The data at this point isn't mature enough to allow us to draw conclusions about the quality of this new-look Canucks club with any confidence.

We'll still proceed and see what we can see, but keep the relative softness of the Canucks schedule and the volatility of miniscule samples in mind. At this point in the season, this is guesswork mostly.

Read past the jump.

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How the Vancouver Canucks Can Learn from the Seattle Mariners

Matthew Henderson
October 19 2014 06:28PM

marinerscanucks

Now, I know. It’s hard to compare sports, especially hockey and baseball. But the parallels that can be drawn between the two can show that the Canucks can learn from their Pacific Northwest counterparts success, and downfalls. 

More after the jump.




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Utica Comets Scouting Report - October 12th, 2014

Josh W
October 19 2014 02:00PM

14_1012-@-TOR

Courtesy of UticaComets.com

On Sunday, October 12th, I was in Toronto and was able to be granted Media Access to the Toronto Marlies game where I was able to scout the Comets play their second regular season game (Quick shout out to the Marlies for being very east to work with!).  I was joined by a number of other people from Hockey Twitter including Jeff Veillette from the Leafs Nation, Timo Seppa and Ryan Wagman of Hockey Prospectus, and Gus Katsaros from McKeen’s hockey.

I was able to get a bit of scouting coaching from Gus Katsaros who taught me a few things to look out for.

I also learned a few of his opinions on Canuck’s prospects which include:

  • Frank Corrado: a very intelligent player who is always working on things in the warm up, primarily his skating technique, stop/starts, quick cuts and directional changes, shows he knows to use his limited ice time to work on deficiencies.
  • Hunter Shinkaruk: Seemed very keen on this player, has skills that translate well to the NHL, with solid footwork and pace.
  • Nicklas Jensen: has lots of good attributes, particularly skating and solid footwork, but needs to work on his stick handling and some puck skills where his hands catch up with his feet
  • Brendan Gaunce: likely to be a utility player in the NHL.

Here’s what I took away from this game:

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