As a rule I'm not a big fan of the real-time stats tracked by the NHL. Hits, blocked shots, giveaways, and takeaways can provide some interesting information but they also tend to be very misleading. I've heard many times that Jeff Petry is a terrible defender and his giveaway total, third highest among NHL defencemen, is evidence of that. It's true that Petry has a lot of giveaways, but look at the top ten, how many would you want on your team? Giveaways obviously aren't good but maybe that number really just tells us that the more a player handle the puck the more likely they are to turn it over from time to time. The same goes for hits and blocked shots, both are nice but they also mean that you don't have the puck, and as long as the goal of the game is to score more than your opponent then I tend to think that having the puck is important.
So more often than not I simply ignore these numbers. But last night I came across this conversation on Twitter:
@AGretz Very cool. Is it shot attempts + assists + giveaways + takeaways + hits received?— Fear The Fin (@fearthefin) April 16, 2014
@fearthefin Does NHL track hits received? I have goals, assists, misses, blocked attempts, giveaway, takeaway— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) April 16, 2014
An interesting idea for sure. Take those real-time stats, look at them in a slightly different light and maybe we can use them to approximate how many times each player touches the puck. I think it's fairly obvious that this method misses a lot of touches but it should provide a rough approximation of which players are handling the puck the most. The equation for touches would therefore be:
Touches = assists+shots+missed shots+blocked shots+hits against+giveaways+takeaways
So, if measured this way, how would the Oilers look this season? (To save space I combined the Corsi events into a single column)
A couple of thoughts:
- It really doesn't matter what you look at, Taylor Hall is a beast. This team will go as far as he takes them.
- Centres appear to be under counted by this method. If I had to guess why that is, I'd say that it's probably a result of their roles in the defensive end of the rink.
- Philip Larsen looks just fine by this measure, but has the third worst CF% among this group, so like all stats, context matters.