Plus Minus Case Study

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Individual player plus-minus is a horrible statistic. You may have heard similar sentiments before, but most of these statements usually come without a decent explanation as to why plus-minus actually sucks. Well, look no further! Plus-minus is essentially an individual player 's on-ice goal differential. If a player is on the ice during a goal-for, they receive a plus 1. If they are on the ice during a goal-against, they receive a minus 1. This stat has special place in the hearts of many people, as plus-minus was one of the very first "advanced stats". Sorry, guys. It sucks. THE ISSUE The main problem with this statistic is that it measures the events happening around a player, and not the player 's contribution to those events. In many cases, a…show more content…
In both of these cases, the reason behind each player 's jump in individual plus-minus is a change in teammates. A successful team 's players will have mostly positive plus-minus ratings, while a bad team 's players will usually have negative ratings. SO, WHAT IS THE POINT OF PLUS-MINUS? When used in the context of team goal differential, plus-minus offers insight into how good a team truly is. Although a simple measurement, team goal differential speaks wonders. Out of the 16 teams that have qualified for the NHL 's post-season, only 1 of those teams currently has a negative goal differential- the Detroit Red Wings sit at a minus 12. Every single team who did not qualify for the post-season has a negative goal differential as well. You have to score more goals than your opponent if you want to win, kids. All-in-all, individual plus-minus is a useless statistic. In no way does it measure a player 's individual contributions, which is essentially what player statistics should do. When put into context, plus-minus can measure the effectiveness of a team throughout a season. This is it 's only true use, though. Using plus-minus to evaluate individual players is incorrect and ineffective
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