The Plus/Minus Rating is Garbage, Stop Using It

Created 1 years 284 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

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by Michael DeNicola


Friday, March 4th, 2016 --



Any piece of data that leads to a hundred more questions than answers is not a useful piece of data. Not when someone is trying to make effective use of it as a basis to any argument. And hockey's plus/minus rating is precisely what I'm talking about. 


Earlier today, Flyers beat writer Sam Carchidi posted this tweet...


My reaction has nothing to do with my squabbling over Carchidi himself. That tweet could have come from anyone and you'd see the same reaction from me, I promise you that. 


So what is it that Sam's getting at by sharing that useless information? Is this supposed to imply that Giroux is performing the worst of any Flyer on the roster?


"Of course not!" I'm sure he'd reply. Okay, so then what's the point?


Looking back this season, the Flyers spent most of the 2015-16 campaign 30th or 29th in goals per game. Right now, Philadelphia ranks 23rd in the League (2.46 G/GP) and own a -15 goal differential. All of which in spite of outstanding goaltending. 


At the moment, Claude Giroux is one of only three Flyers on pace to finish with 20+ goals this season. In 2014-15, the Flyers finished with four 20-goal scorers, and seven in 2013-14. So this quantity is trending downward, though Giroux remains one of our only constants. He hasn't missed 20-goals for an 82-game season since 2009-10 when he averaged less than 17-minutes of ice time. In fact, he's hit 25-goals each season (minus the lockout) the last four consecutive seasons; tied for 3rd most 25-goal seasons since 2010-11

This season so far, Giroux is 3rd on the team with 17-goals, with Brayden Schenn (21) and Wayne Simmonds (23) above him in that column. Just beneath Giroux is Shayne Gostisbehere, a defenseman, with 12 goals. When the team, in general, is under-producing, and goals are tough to come by, naturally there are going to be a few statistical illusions.... like a plus/minus rating. This data contributes nothing towards defining how well or poorly a player has been playing.



Allow me to broaden the context from a historical viewpoint...













I'm out...




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