The Contrarian visits Dagobah to tap Yoda for some Fantasy Hockey advice…
Sometimes I feel like Yoda. No I'm not short and green. I'm not dressed in a robe and use a cane. I am not as wise as him nor do I have the Force within me. There are times like today where I feel like him and in particular after reading Ryan Ma's The Power of Numbers articles (part one, part two).
Ryan has put a lot of effort and time writing his two part piece yet there are elements in it where I want to say, as Yoda did to Luke, "you must unlearn what you have learned" or "hear you not what I say?"
From part one, "I still observe plenty of poolies on the forums who go by their 'gut feel' or other random non-data related justifications ('skating mechanics', 'prior draft lineage', 'trust me I watch a lot of their games' or 'they’re my favorite player'), the interesting thing with that is 300 years ago we would have called that witchcraft, in this day and age we anoint it as 'justifiable opinion'. He goes on to add, "but what I want to see is tangible substance-based evidence to justify a point rather than someone who is out there just to make noise."
We have all heard of the saying, usually attributed to Mark Twain, that "there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics". With respect to Ryan's point of view I suggest that his statistics are closer to pulling the wool over your eyes than discovering the miracle formula for hockey pool success.
Three key factors
Time on ice. Ryan states that one of the key statistical indicators for the point production of a player is time on ice. Basically, if a player plays a lot then he will get more points. It intuitively sounds good but maybe that is because the player gets points so his coach plays him a lot or maybe there isn't anyone else to play so that player gets more ice time.
Where the stat fails is in understanding how the player earns more ice time. If we give Wayne Gretzky 25 minutes of ice time each game we would predict that he would get two or three points (heck maybe even 5 p