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Confirmation Bias and Meaningless Stats

As #fancystats takes off, let us not forget the dark underworld of small sample sizes and inconsequential observations.

If you sing that Katy Perry song one more time, so help me God...
If you sing that Katy Perry song one more time, so help me God...
Derek Leung

I hate math. I'm the proud recipient of more math-related D's and F's in my youth than any other subject. I distinctly remember one class when the teacher asked me to go to the chalkboard - yes I'm that old - and draw out a cosine wave and without looking up from poorly etching the Black Flag logo all over my notebook - again, that old - I asked "You tell me how that'll help me in real life and then I'll get up." A few seconds of a sour milk face and she quickly moved on to another student. It was a small victory.

If only I had known, years later, I would be firmly ensconced as a pants-less hockey blogger and how important analytics would become. It helps round out the game we watch, mapping trends to suggest what successes or failures lie ahead. It's why you saw the best and brightest fancystat minds be scooped up by teams this summer (note: ...annnd another one is picked up). It's why we brought Nick aboard here. Thanks Nick!

In lieu of actual hard work and research (who has the time when I'm still trying to figure out how Jax will die in Sons of Anarchy...and don't start with me because he's soooo going to die), I'm going to toss the warm blanket of confirmation bias around my shoulders and boldly dive into the stats from 1/82 of the season to fearlessly project what the immediate future holds for the Canucks.

Goals Per Game

goals per game

Under Torts last year Vancouver mustered a meager 2.33 goals per game. But staple a sniper to the Sedins, make Kassian pay attention for a hot second and let Burrows not crack his face open scoring a PPG and things are looking up! An aside: If you had NJ or Winnipeg at the top of the charts to lead goals per this early on, well get off your computer and help me craft some NFL bets for this Sunday because, again, I'm a pants-less blogger and winter is coming.

Fearless Prediction: They finish the season at a gawdy 3.50 goals per game, making Boston's league-best 3.15 last year laughable by comparison. When asked how he orchestrated such a big turn around, Benning perfects the wry smile and mic drop which, to be fair, is quite the improvement from how he started.

Goals Against Per Game

goals again

Luongo who? Schneider what? Noureen DeWulf's husband already maintains the third best SV% in team history (warning: shield your eyes, that's a rough list to parse through) and he barely broke a sweat doing so, save for his Superman impression. He did so even with a half-working Bieksa, Edler moving around with the elegance of a Great Dane in skates and Hansen deciding to feed the ice his face. Just imagine his numbers by mid-season; you know, right around the time for Eddie Lack to steal his job for no reason whatsoever.

Fearless Prediction: DeWulf's husband tops his numbers from his Vezina-winning 2009-2010 campaign, leaving @stombone1's reactions the best reason yet to go on Twitter in the morning.

Power Play


Last season's 15.2% on the man advantage (26th best or fourth worst, take your pick) is far in the rear view. WD has discovered the secret both Torts and that fella' in NY never thought of: put both Hamhuis and Tanev out there on the PP and instant success will find you. Sure you could argue that it only worked because it was against Calgary, but then none of this blog post would make any sense so take your logic and shove it Mr. and Mrs. wet blanket.

Fearless Prediction: It won't be as low as 26th again because lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Oh, that's wrong? Pfft, what does NASA know...hmm, ok, good point. So maybe Vancouver does finish 26th again.

Penalty Kill


Noureen's better half: impenetrable. Defense: sound as the pound (again, old). Desjardins: dashingly rugged. Overall: 100% efficiency. Absolutely perfect. Not one blemish. It's the Mona Lisa of penalty killing prowess.

Fearless Prediction: No one will score a PPG against Vancouver until December which, at that point, they're just being charitable and giving. But that won't stop Tony Gallagher from complaining about it.



I suppose it's a problem when the only teams worse than Vancouver from the dot haven't even played yet. Is that a problem? Naah, WD is on it. In fact he  may just tape Bo Horvat to Linden Vey against Edmonton if he helps this team get back on track. For comparison's sake, Henrik Sedin's 36.4% FO% is slightly above Dave Bolland's 30% and Bolland is still learning to chew his own food, so clearly there's room for improvement. Since we're looking anyway, the three worst players on face-offs right now: Mike Santorelli (14.3%), Max Lapierre (14.3%) and Mike Richards (13.3%). You're allowed to laugh.

Fearless Prediction: Vancouver continues to be the worst team in the league at face-offs, except for when they play Anaheim when they embarrass Kesler and Burrows rubs salt in the wound with "Andrea is a great girl." If that reference is lost on you, shame shame shame.

If The Playoffs Started Today


Vancouver needs roughly 100 points to punch their ticket to the post season, but I'm impatient and the coffee is kicking in so since they have a solid 67.63% chance to make the dance, I've decided the playoffs start today. First thing's first: let's all point at Los Angeles and Anaheim and laugh. Felt good right? Get it all out of your system. Now on to what's important: stopping the Nashville Predators, a team that has never made it past the semi-finals in their history, being stopped twice by whatever we're calling the Coyotes these days and your Vancouver Canucks. Hey Mr. Benning, can I get another mic drop?

Fearless Prediction: I get emails from people who think this was a serious post and use curse words to convey their displeasure.