Putting your faith in the 'new' stats

Received a great email a little while back asking about some of the relatively unheralded statistical work going on in hockey:

Hi James:

I've been trying to read up on some of the new (at least new to me) metrics, because I'm fascinated by the work that people doing, making an effort to quantify, objectivize and regularize some of the data that are out there about the game. Some of the metrics seem relatively straightforward to understand — things like the scoring rates — EV, PP, SH. Some of the other metrics I've come across though, are a little less intuitive, like Corsi numbers, quality of competition/teammates and goals created.  There's also a lot of new faceoff-related metrics that I don't even know the names of.

I've just started dipping into Alan Ryder's work on the Globe Sports website, and there's some stuff out there that seems really interesting, methods by which people are attempting to apportion responsibility for team wins to players, to evaluate goaltenders according to shot quality and so on.

I'm sure I'm not the only long-time fan out there whose more than a little unfamiliar with these new stats, though I've long felt that the G/A/Pts and W/L/GAA was ridiculously uninformative.

It's a tall order, but I'm wondering whether you can basically give us something of the history of where this work began, if it's even possible to say — what some of the most important new metrics are and (ideally) what you perceive their limitations to be.

I know it's a huge topic — I've been doing some Google searches (and reading) just to get myself this far, and I feel like I've only dipped my toe in the enormous body of material that's out there, but I thought you might be able to shed some light on the topic for a league-wide audience.

— Ed S.

When it comes to hockey statistics, I think I'm off in the middle ground somewhere by my lonesome — too reliant on new-fangled metrics for the old school types and too simplistic for the truly ground-breaking stat-heads out there. As far as someone who works in the NHL media, however, I'm at the far, far extreme in terms incorporating things like what Gabriel Desjardins has built up at Behind The Net into what I write.

Everyone has a different idea when it comes to what stats they put their faith in, but the ones I lean on the most are quality of competition and the goals for and goals against while on the ice (scoring rates) that Desjardins puts out. His site is a great starting spot for someone just dipping their toe into this stuff.

As Ed makes note, this is a huge topic, and I'd like to hear from other bloggers and readers what "new" stats they put stock in. I'm still warming up to Corsi and other metrics of that ilk, although I can really see the benefits of things like faceoff ratios and stats that seem somehow more tangible than things like Puck Prospectus' GVT (Goals Versus Threshold).

Which stats do you often rely on in evaluating players (or settling message board arguments)? Which do you think are overlooked by bloggers in terms of their usefulness? Which are over-relied on or have potential weaknesses that aren't often accounted for?

And if I was to put together a list on this site of the five to 10 key "new" metrics you'd like to see creep into the league's stat books, what would it include?

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