Roman Polak vs Martin Marincin. Fun with Numbers. (Not Fucken Likely)

Hey everybody. I’m not one to really talk analytics and in fact this might be the only time I ever write about it. I admit I’m no expert, in fact I like to keep numbers out of my life as much as possible. I just felt like I needed to express why I think these ‘advanced stats’ are not what many people think they’re cracked up to be. I would like to add that I don’t think analytics aren’t useful to some extent, of course they are. Also, if I’m boring you to tears with this (at least read it to the end), feel free to give me a virtual smack in the head.

This will only compare Corsi and Fenwick stats. What I’ll do for this is compare an ‘analytics darling’ like Martin Marincin to someone the analytics community doesn’t really like, Roman Polak. So why would a team actually play Polak over Marincin, other than having differing characteristics as defencemen.

Polak has a 2016 Corsi of 47.3%, while Marincin‘s numbers came in at 51% for the year. If you’re only looking at the numbers, case closed right? Marincin should always be in over Polak. One’s a black hole of possession (Polak), constantly being cycled on, while the other is an elite shot suppressor (Marincin), according to Corsi numbers. The Corsi numbers ARE indeed facts, to some extent, but I’ll look at what those numbers actually MEAN and put some CONTEXT around them.

Let’s start with Marincin. Analytics will cite a Corsi of above 50% as proof of his ability to supress shots, as well as his Corsi relative to his team mates. Well let’s examine what that number actually MEANS.

Marincin in 2016, was on the ice for 394 shot attempts for and 378 against. A WHOPPING 16 shot attempt differential over a season. 16 attempts for is supposed to be concrete proof of his elite ability. 16 over an entire season! Marincin played only 25 games last year, meaning he drove a positive .64 attempt differential per game or .21 shot attempts per period. That isn’t even 1 shot per GAME difference, That is an incredibly small number of a shot differential to start tossing around the word “elite”. A 16 shot differential did not strike me as an elite differential, so I started digging through more underlying numbers.

Although Marincins aggregrate Corsi is positive, his Fenwick is actually 48.5%. Raise your hand if you’ve heard the analytics (Marincin) crowd discuss this number (..me neither). For those unaware of what the heck a Fenwick is, it’s essentially shot attempts (actual shots and shots thats miss the net) minus blocked shots.

Marincin allowed 301 unblocked shot attempts on net, while on being on the ice for 283 attempts for. That puts him at a negative Fenwick so basically he allows more shots through than he gets through while on the ice. Surprising right?

So the question then is why did Polak play over Marincin last year, even though Marincin possessed the higher Corsi? Well it’s for a variety of reasons. I’ll explore here. Point #1 is, 16 shot attempts for over 25 games does not prove elite status, it actually proves nothing because it’s such a small differential. Babcock knows this. So how do the two players stack up?

Well I looked deeper than just aggregrate corsi. I also examined who gave up more unblocked shots per minute played (Fenwick Against), who gave up more goals while on the ice, and who gave away the puck more often. Here are the results.

Polak

Marincin

Aggregrate Corsi

47%

51%

Shot Differential per period

-0.5

+.21

Goals against per minute

.52

.58

Fenwick Against (Unblocked shots) per Minute

.77

.79

Giveaways Per Minute

.43

.40

So why did Polak play over Marincin? Well, Polak gave up less goals per minute, gave up less shot attempts that made it to the net per minute, all while posting a worse comparable Corsi.

Eventhough Marincin had a positive impact on Corsi ( barely, 16 extra attempts over 25 games), he gave up more shots and goals against at a higher rate. That is why he was in the press box and may not even become a Leaf this year. Also, he’s a GRINDER which Babcock loves, and I don’t blame him, so do I.

Some personal thoughts:

I question the use of the word evidence when referring to stats, I find it fucken laughable. There are way too many variables and not enough constants in the sport for these numbers to be reliable predictors of future results. Especially clutch situations.

If fans are into analytics, great for them. If I ask you why you think player X is good or bad, don’t start with me about these types of stats or I’ll tell you to shove them up yer arse! Also, if some fans think that analytics are the only measure of a player, then they don’t understand human dynamics at all. I think for a lot of people, if they just have to refer to the numbers, it takes real thought and interpretation out of their hands.

If analytics help at all, I think that they could help a team select the bottom six forwards and bottom two D if anything. The rest of the players they can figure out without any stats. You can easily figure that out by just watching the fucken game! I could easily write another 2000 words about this but I’ll stop with this statement.

It’s not so much the numbers, or ‘advanced stats’ (which really aren’t advanced math at all in this case) that put people off. I find it’s more the fucken pretentious attitude and  lack of personality of many involved with with this group of fans.

I’m sure my comments will really piss some people right off and I really don’t give a crap. I’m sure I’ll hear some real snotty remarks about this post too. It doesn’t follow their ridiculous narrative.

I look forward to a time when hockey analytics are actually decent and reliable enough to be taken more seriously by the average fan like us. 🙂 Just one guy’s opinion.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the game tonight for what it is. Entertainment. From your knucklehead hockey puck,

#CousinEddieLeafs #budsallday

Art work by @darthalexander9  Website darthalexander9.deviantart.com

I would like to acknowledge @ThunderT16 for his contributions.

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