I’m not sure who came up with the term “fancy stats” for advanced NHL metrics, but it definitely tops sabermetrics or analytics or big data. To the creator of “fancy stats”, the hockey community thanks you.
NHL teams are increasingly adopting the use of such fancy numbers. NHL writers are writing fancy articles with fancy stats. NHL reporters are talking about fancy metrics. NHL agents are negotiating fancy contracts by using fancy analytics.
Which fancy stats are we talking about? What do they mean? Here’s a brief breakdown of some of the more relevant metrics being used and talked about today.
Corsi: Arguably the most mentioned fancy stat, Corsi is actually a simple calculation (unlike baseball’s WAR). Whereas the traditional metric of shots on goal (SOG) only measures shots that are either goals or saved, Corsi measures blocked shots and missed shots. Corsi, as most of the advanced stats mentioned, is only calculated for even strength.
Corsi can be measured as: SOG (including goals) + missed shots + blocked shots
Essentially, Corsi gives an indication of possession with the premise that the more you shoot at the net, the more you will possess the puck.
For individual players, Corsi can be represented as a +/- representing the net of the team Corsi minus the opposition Corsi while a player is on ice. This is very similar to basketball +/- but instead of points, the metric uses total shots (including missed and blocked shots).
Fenwick: Very similar to Corsi, except it does not include blocked shots.
OZone%: The percentage of faceoffs in the offensive zone.
On the team perspective, this gives a general idea of where the team is playing the puck. Obviously, it is better to have the puck in the offensive zone. However, OZone% also has implications at the individual level.
OZone% shows whether a player is predominantly getting time in the offensive zone. While this gives light to how the coach uses that player, it also is important when considering offensive stats. If Player A and Player B have fairly equal stats, and Player A is starting in the offensive zone considerably less, then perhaps Player A is performing better and deserves to start more offensive zone faceoffs.
DZone%: The percentage of faceoffs in the defensive zone.
The implications are the same as OZone%, however for the defensive side of the puck.
ESSV%: Save percentage of goalies, but only for even strength situations. Normal save percentage considers powerplays, where goalies are at a severe disadvantage.
A better representation of goalies.
PDO: Once again, a fairly easy calculation with important implications (measures fortune/luck).
PDO = Shooting Percentage + Save Percentage
Anything over 1000 represents good fortune. Anything less than 1000 represents bad luck.
The idea is that, over the long run, PDO regresses to the natural mean (1000).