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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Intangibles in the NHL - Top 75 - Scott Cullen says Oilers are the worst

Scott Cullen just put up a blog article talking about intangibles and the kind of "unsung heroes" formula that TSN.ca uses to rank their players.

Here is the article:
Intangibles are always touted as part of the reason for a team's success, yet they are invariably awarded in hindsight, after a team has won something significant.

That doesn't stop countless people from e-mailing me to extoll the virtues of heart, chemistry and teamwork. While I'm not going to go so far as to say this is a way to find the players who play that heart-and-soul, body-sacrificing game.

As part of the TSN.ca player ranking formula, there is an attempt to quantify the intangible element by addressing statistical categories like hits, blocked shots, giveaways, takeaways and faceoffs.

At the very least, it helps to identify some of the unsung hero types who contribute in ways that don't typically show up on the scoresheet.

Shotblocking defencemen and grinding forwards, this one's for you!

Here are some of the results to this point in the season:

Here's the link - click.

First of all, a few observations:
  • Brooks Orpik is the most "unsung hero" in the NHL, according to the list
  • only 30 of the top 75 are Western Conference players
  • 5 of the top 10 are Western Conference players
  • the list includes no Oilers
  • the list includes no Flames (really? no Robyn Regehr?)
  • the list includes three Islanders - Trent Hunter, Brendan Witt, and Mark Streit
  • the list includes two Red Wings - Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Stuart
  • the list includes one Shark - Douglas Murray
  • former Oilers Matt Greene and Jason Smith are in the top 30
  • former Oiler Jarret Stoll is #52
  • Erik Cole and Steve Staios lead the Oilers in "intangible points" according to the list
  • the bottom 25 ranks 3 Oilers among the worst: Robert Nilsson, Ales Hemsky, and Sam Gagner - with Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner on the very bottom of the list, #2 and #1 respectively
  1. there is a clear Eastern Conference bias - seeing as how you need to add the total Sharks and Red Wings to match the number of Islanders on the list; there is a clear "big market" bias - as seen that there are no Albertan teams on this list, teams that are known for their defense-first style
  2. according to the list, the Oilers are on crack to have traded away Jarret Stoll, Jason Smith, and Matt Greene
  3. anybody who ranks Robert Nilsson on the bottom of an intangible list has not watched him play: this kid backchecks every time he's on the ice
  4. according to the list, Sam Gagner is indeed as bad as I've been saying he is
  5. Steve Staios being ranked higher than Denis Grebeshkov seems fishy
  6. according to the list, we should re-sign Erik Cole
  1. if Ales Hemsky is so bad when he's on the ice, what explains his Corsi number? Jonathan Willis wrote on this a while back
  2. if Ales Hemsky is so bad when he's on the ice, what explains the fact that entire team plays better when he's in the lineup than when he's not?
  3. how are there 4 NY Islanders ranked higher than Nilsson, Hemksy, and Gagner?
Further impressions:
  • someone needs to do a statistical analysis about these results, with Corsi numbers, QUALCOMP, and (+/-)
  • TSN.ca needs to talk about what formula they're using to determine these numbers because - (1) if the numbers are right, we can figure out what's wrong with the Oilers and (2) if the numbers are wrong, then the bias is as obvious as the results they give
  • yes, the Oilers are inconsistent and they are sometimes bad defensively - but not THAT BAD
  • Scott Cullen is on crack

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Blogger thickoil said...

The TSN player rankings are stupid, it's basically one persons opinion on what certain elements are worth more (hits vs. FO% vs. block shots, etc.) and all these stats stem from the NHL stats. Which can also be questioned for credibility.

February 1, 2009 at 11:03 PM

Blogger Jonathan Willis said...

Hey Anthony - I saw the same article, and found it so ridiculous that I couldn't even be bothered to criticize it. Basically, Cullen's taking a bunch of RTSS numbers (hits, blocked shots, etc.) and tossing them together, hoping to be able to read character by doing so.

It's the hockey equivalent of phrenology; it's a bunch of hogwash that falls apart with any real examination, and is almost entirely subjective.

Debunking it really isn't even worth the trouble.

February 9, 2009 at 8:27 PM

Blogger raventalon40 said...

Subjective to TSN's invariably Eastern-skewed perspective despite the developing pattern of hockey dominance in the Western Conference.

February 20, 2009 at 12:49 AM


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