The War on Corsi continues well into 2021.
By now, analytics have become an essential part of the sports landscape and using statistical models to supplement your evaluation has led to a more precise, honest discourse around hockey. Perhaps, this is an opinion shared by those who don't play at an elite level, as we're incapable of processing the game at the same speed and clarity as professional players.
Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele calmly explained Thursday that he doesn't care for the mathematical-based approach to viewing hockey.
"To be honest, I don't have much time for analytics. You know, I don't pay any attention to it. Any analytic — I can watch a game and tell you how a guy played and I really don't have any time. I don't even understand them," Scheifele told reporters.
"I'd rather just watch a game and tell you if a guy played well or not, and you know, the analytics is a bunch of hogwash in my mind."
There doesn't appear to be an apparent trigger for Scheifele's stance against analytics, although this season he's posted the lowest expected goals for percentage (42.63) of his career, per Natural Stat Trick.
Scheifele isn't alone in his assessment. Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois offered a more nuanced take as to why players often disregard analytics altogether.
This is Pierre-Luc Dubois on why, perhaps, players don't follow analytics that much. I appreciated his honesty. No attacks on it. Just his opinion. pic.twitter.com/qWFZsCSCCf
— Scott Billeck (@ScottBilleck) March 4, 2021
It's certainly an interesting debate, which again, reveals a fundamental truth: analytics can simply be described as further information, which is perhaps revelatory to the relatively untrained eye. It helps one understand the game at a higher level, and perhaps how to forecast certain trends in games that, by design, are often unpredictable. Professional athletes inherently understand how to make exceptional reads, and therefore, presenting what they already know in data form could come off as needlessly pedantic towards experts.
With 11 goals and 31 points in 20 games, Scheifele has outperformed what his Corsi For and Expected Goals would suggest what his real output should be, and that alone may be another reason why he's unwilling to embrace it. Winnipeg holds a 14-7-1 record, good for second in the North Division and it's been a successful season to date, so one can understand why the team would be reticent to accept data to suggest otherwise.
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