Not-So-Advanced Stats: An Introduction To “Fancystats” For Wild Fans

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 -Useful Tools-

A problem I often find with these “stats-primer” articles is that they explain how the metrics work, but they don’t really show the reader how to adapt and use the stats in their day-to-day interaction with hockey.

So, with that in mind, I’m gonna preview a couple of websites that have really made interacting with stats very simple for me and that I hope will do the same for you.

Player Usage Charts

I would say I reference Player Usage Charts more frequently than any other type of statistic. They are a simple, visual, informative way to get some quick information players or a team. I use Player Usage Charts from two different sites; SomeKindOfNinja and Hockey Abstract.

In these charts, the Y-Axis is for “Quality Of Competition” and the X-Axis is “Percentage Of Shifts Starting In The Offensive Zone”.

On SomeKindOfNinja’s charts, the format for the charts is:

-Blue Bubble=Positive Corsi

-Red Bubble=Negative Corsi

-Bubble Size=Corsi Number

Hold your cursor over the bubble to get the exact numbers.

(Click to Enlarge)

You can change the settings on the site to show different numbers and different configurations of players. You can change the “minimum games played”, you can look at different seasons, you can choose one player and look at his entire career, you can look at Corsi Rel or Corsi On. There is so much data to be found on this website, but it is extremely easy to use.

On Hockey Abstract, the format for the charts is:

-Bubble size indicates “Total TOI” (this can be changed to “Average TOI/Game”.

-Bubble Colour indicates whether Corsi is positive or negative, and the Corsi number, which is colour-coded, with brown being the extreme negative, and deep blue being the extreme positive.

(Click To Enlarge)

Once again, you can change the settings to look at a bunch of different configurations. What I find useful about this site is that you can select certain players from a drop-down list, which is useful when comparing several players from different teams all at once.

What do these charts tell me?

The things you’re looking at in these charts are:

-How was a player deployed during the season.

-What kind of role did he play.

-How did he perform?

By the “Offensive Zone Start %” you can see if a coach generally used a player in goal-scoring situations, or was he used in a defensive role. By the “Quality Of Competition” you can see if a player faced the best players the other team had, or if he was “sheltered” and faced-off against the other team’s weaker players.

Players in the top-left of the graph played very tough minutes. Players in the bottom-right played very soft minutes. The Corsi On/Corsi Rel number tells you whether they succeeded or failed in their role. A player might have a slightly negative Corsi, but if he played tough minutes, then this needs to be taken into account in your evaluation of him.

Click on both of these sites and mess around with the settings until you feel like it starts makes sense. These are really simple, but informative tools and worth getting to grips with.

This website is an absolute game-changer in terms of watching and analysing hockey. I make it a habit to always begin a game night by opening this in a tab on my computer. It gives you instant links to every stat or piece of information you could possibly want to access while before, during and after a game.

What it allows you to do is select a team and the game you are about to watch, and then it gives you a series of links, which are divided between ‘Season Links’ and ‘Game Links’.

As you can see, there are a whole bunch of different areas of information you can access, all neatly stored in one place. It’s got links to all the regular and advanced stats sites you could want.

All this is very useful, but the real game-changer for me is the “TimeOnIce” section under ‘Game Links’. You can access shift charts, head-to-head data to see who players are getting matched-up against, exact player-by-player zone start stats and, most importantly, detailed Corsi and Fenwick numbers.

I highly recommend, before every game, open the “Corsi/Fenwick” chart in a new tab on your computer (if you have it near you) and refresh the page whenever there’s a stoppage in play. The chart automatically updates and gives you up-to-the-minute shot attempt numbers that are easy to understand and extremely helpful in analysing what is happening on the ice. Corsi/Fenwick chart from the Game 3 of the playoffs, the Wild’s OT win vs Chicago:

The format of the chart is:

“Game No.Team NamePlayer No./Pos/NameGoals For While On IceGoals Against While On IceSaved Shots For While On IceSaved Shots Against While On IceMissed Shots For While On IceMissed Shots Against While On IcePlayer’s Fenwick No. (A total of all the goals, missed and saved shots for and against while that player has been on the ice) – Blocked Shots For While On IceBlocked Shots Against While On IceCorsi No. (Player’s Fenwick, plus Blocked Shots For, minus Blocked Shots Against).”

Pretty simple, right?

From the chart above, you can see that Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Jason Zucker performed very well and managed to drive possession all through the game. It’s no coincidence that Zucker scored the game-winner in OT that night.

Also, you can see that Brodin and Suter had rough nights (if you remember, they had just come off crazy minutes in Games 1 and 2 in Chicago) by their huge Corsi and Fenwick deficits.

I only screen-capped the top half of the page, so if you scroll down, you also get the Blackhawks numbers.

I highly recommend that you use all the features on NiceTimeOnIce, but if you only use one, make sure it’s the “Corsi/Fenwick” chart. The numbers in this chart, combined with the “eye-test” gives you the ultimate perspective of who is driving a game and who is struggling.

Try it right now and get familiar with it for the new season!