Welcome back to the Making RMNB Last essay series. This time our prompt comes from Joe K., who I think did a wonderful job articulating, so I’ll just hand it over to him.
“You all put together wonderful statistical analyses which tell us way more than the standard NHL-provided goals/assists/+/-, etc and really help us look at players more insightfully than ever before (tho without CapGeek, maybe we’re all back to square 2). The only issue I have is how the analyses are typically constrained by even strength/5v5 TOI, and more importantly, that this is a not insignificant portion of overall TOI for a lot of players, or in some cases a very significant portion. Seems it could also be presumed that the more non-5v5 TOI a player has a game, the less likely their even strength stats tell the story of what their value might be to the team.
I’d like to see something that assessed, what, if any, stats are out their which might enhance the lens thru which we look at these players’ advanced stats and help flag which players’ 5v5 SA%/G% #’s might be more/less meaningful.
Finally, I realize the above might be the subject of a Doctoral dissertation and know that can’t happen, but even weaving the issue into these discussions more is something I see as a potentially avenue to drive analyses in that direction and appropriately couch bigger picture judgment on players. Don’t worry about writing a specific article on this, just would find it interesting to see something alluding to this concept and informing the discussion at some point along the way. Thanks for the ear and opportunity to offer the thoughts. By all means if I just haven’t been reading you all enough and this path has been beaten, by all means accept my apologies and offer a link. Keep up the great work; you all do amazing content, and, whether or not anyone will ever recognize it, contribute so much to the Caps and NHL generally by offering anyone who follows the game so many different ways to look at/unpack what is the most exciting sport out there.”
Thank you, Joe. That’s a wonderful question, and you framed like a thousand times better than Ian, who tries to troll me with this topic every few months.
Why do so many statistics uses exclude everything but 5v5 even strength, and is that a flaw? Well, it is and it isn’t. A lot of our goof-ups regarding statistics occur when we ask them to do things they weren’t built for or when we fail to consider the context that informs objective measurements. To paraphrase Rob Vollman, stats should be the beginning of the conversation, not the end.