Why I love statistics

MISSISSAUGA, CANADA - MAY 21: Cody Eakin #9 of the Kootenay Ice chases after a loose puck against the Owen Sound Attack in a 2011 CHL Mastercard Memorial Cup game on May 21, 2011 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Canada. The Attack defeated the Ice 5-0. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

I haven't been able to track chances much lately, and there's ample explination for that. First off, though, I'll link to Scott Reynolds' scoring chances post over at Copper n Blue, a website that most of you hate, I know. Reynolds and Derek Zona aren't exactly the biggest fans of the Canucks, but that's aside the point.

I haven't been tracking chances, but I also haven't been able to watch games. I have had the opportunity to cover the Memorial Cup this week (you'll have noticed if I spammed your Twitter feed with praise of the Kootenay Ice's Cody Eakin) and watched a single period of Games 3 and 4, the third period of the fourth game, you know, where the Canucks allowed two late goals and nearly blew a 4-2 lead.

I say "nearly blew" but realistically I know that isn't really the case. What I should say is how lucky the Canucks are to have a 3-1 series lead after that performance last night. It hasn't been since the last time the Canucks played Antti Niemi that they've ran into as bad of a goalie as Antti Niemi, who didn't allow any "bad" goals per sé, but, FFS, he had to make just five stops at even strength last night and didn't even get all of them.

No, not being able to watch the game, there's only so much you can pull from a box score. You can see the Canucks were out-shot 35-13, but it doesn't exactly tell you who played a good game or who played a bad game. With the analysis done by Reynolds, the scoring chances allow you to see who played effective offensive possessions. With Vic Ferrari's wonderful Time On Ice scripts, you can tell anything from which lines controlled the play to who matched up against whom to which players got the bulk of the defensive duties. These have become indispensible to me, as I can track how my favourite players looked while I can't even watch the game.

As soon as the third period of Game Four ended, the only one I've been able to watch, I immediately booted up my laptop and started plugging these numbers in. "Why do you do this," my friend asked me (part of this is paraphrasing). "I get what they mean and why we use them, but they make the game so boring."

Not true at all, in my mind. When you start to delve into the stats and the numbers side of the game, you appreciate the little things that some players do. When Manny Malhotra quietly wins a defensive zone faceoff, you don't appreciate it as much, though those things have a huge effect on the eventual outcome of the game. When Ryan Kesler dominates the possession numbers through a game, you can silently smirk to yourself when a guy calling in to a radio show complains because he didn't score. You appreciate how certain players are especially good at getting their shots on net, how others make plays without it seeming like they've even had to make a play. When Maxim Lapierre suddenly catches fire in the playoffs, even without him scoring regularly, you can see its effect.

I will be back. I will be back on board with trying to let my beard grow out or what have you. Trust that I'm still following the team with as keen of a mind as the armchair coach, making Alain Vigneault's decisions in my mind as it plays out (by looking at the numbers, I'm still not sure if I have all that much confidence in Keith Ballard either). Here's to a happy end of the series, and here's to hoping Jason Demers stays out of the lineup for at least a couple more games, since it has made Marc-Edouard Vlasic's defensive pairing with Kent Huskins the worst on the Sharks in the series.

But don't trust my judgment on that--I haven't even watched the games.

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