Daily News Reporter Finds New Stats, Shows Ignorance

Since I don't want to go all Fire Joe Morgan, I'll put this in a FanPost.  Personally, I'm a big fan of Gabriel Desjardins' blog, Behind the Net.  Apparently, Flyers beat writer Frank Seravalli has found Gabe's excellent work as well:  and he doesn't understand it.

In his story today, "Plenty of problems but Flyers coach Stevens isn't to blame," Seravalli deviates from his defense of Stevens to say "Once heralded as the best offensive depth in the NHL, the Flyers' AHL replacements have been horrible."  He cites Nodl, Ross, and Kalinski's combined 7 games and 0 points.  What he doesn't acknowledge is that they have played a combined 71:51.  Ignoring the fact that Nodl has played in 4 games, Ross in 3, and Kalinski in 1 (that equals 8 for you math majors), they have averaged 10:38, 7:38, and 6:21 per game respectively.  That's not a lot of ice time.  And when you consider they're mostly playing together (or on the penalty kill, in Nodl's case), expectations need to be tempered.  But this isn't what I take issue with - they haven't scored, and I agree that's a problem. 

Rather, it's his next comment that shows his ignorance.  "Think that's bad? They've been worse defensively. Per 60 minutes on ice, Nodl averages out to be on the ice for 5.94 goals against. Ross (2.92) and David Laliberte (3.00) have been no better."    Here is where Seravalli fails to factor in a ton of details. 

First, the data he uses came straight from Behind the Net.  Notice how he uses David Laliberte instead of Jonathon Kalinski - like he did in the previous paragraph?  Yeah, that's because Gabe's data hasn't been updated in a couple of days.  Andreas Nodl's 5.94 GA/60 is the result of 2 GP.  Same for Ross's.  I think we all can agree that data for 2 games played is unreliable due to a small sample size.

Second, Nodl has been on the ice for 3 goals against in his 42:34 of ice time, one of which was scored while he was on the PK.  His plus/minus is a minus-1.  But Seravalli found one stat saying he's horrible defensively.  If that's so, how come Nodl gets 90 seconds of PK time per game?  That sounds to me like a coach incorrectly using his players.  Wait, this was a story defending the coach?  Oh... sorry.

Third, if Seravalli had spent the time looking around Gabe's site, he would have noticed - besides the fact that each player he's criticizing only had two games played - other stats contradicting his thesis.  Jared Ross (he of the 2.92 GA/60) has given up the fewest shots on net per 60 minutes of play - 5.8.  When he's on the ice, he's giving up less than 1 shot every 10 minutes!  Think about that.  If the Flyers had 18 guys playing as well as Jared Ross did in his two games, they would have lost 3-0, out-shooting their opponent 35-6.  Okay Frank, Ross is horrible defensively.  You're right.

Lastly, this is not a defense of Nodl, Ross, Kalinski, or Laliberte.  As I said, they haven't played enough to properly judge their play.  However, Seravalli was able to find out how many GA/60 those guys gave up, so how could he not see that they weren't the worst on the team?  Yes, Nodl's was THE worst on the team, but those right behind him, in order, are:  Darroll Powe, Danny Briere, and Jeff Carter.  After Carter comes Laliberte and Ross.  So, if he's going to say how bad Nodl, Ross, and Laliberte have been, why not throw a mention at Briere and Carter?  And why not mention that Laliberte is the only one of those 6 to have a higher GF/60 than GA/60?  Because he wanted to show he knows how to find unusual stats, without understanding them.

So, the lesson is, if you're going to slam players using new stats, you should understand them first.  And look at ALL of the stats to get some context, not just cherry pick out what you think allows you to speak with authority.

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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