Question of the week: What would you measure?

New statistics are being developed all over the place these days. You've got Ms. Conduct's Relative Foxiness and Justin Bourne's Beerablility along side things like P+CORP [Points + Corsi Over Replacment Player] and goaltender +/-RL [that's "replacement level," which is still a tricky concept in the stats world]. After all, Corsi and Fenwick were once experimental statistics.

So I wondered, what could we measure that we aren't? I mean if we could measure heart or hustle, we'd have a gold mine, amirite? For myself, I'd like to know a lot more about how hits, takeaways, and giveaways impact the game (not just how they describe the perimeters of Corsi) and we really need a way to measure stuff happening away from the puck. If we could come up with a way to measure taking away passing lanes, for instance, I think we'd understand defense a whole lot better than we do now.

I also think there has to be a way to measure goalie watchability, which is that characteristic that makes you just want to see what they'll do next. It's made up of how bendy they are, how fast they are, how smooth they are, and how adorable they are. Extra points for being cute or being the right kind of crazy; big minus for being annoying and self-centered. Or Flow. You know--hair. Surely there's a way to measure the impact of Flow on a player's value.

Once I ran out of ideas, I asked my colleagues what they'd measure. Here's what they said.

Cassie McClellan - Managing Editor / Raw Charge

I'll cover one of the two we most talk about on game threads. I think they ought to track time of puck possession. Which, I know, would be very difficult. But I think that it'd be worthwhile, since then fans could create all sorts of new and exciting (or, maybe, just boring?) stats from that. Shots on goal versus time of possession, anyone?

John Fontana - Managing Editor / Raw Charge

I'd like to see plus / minus adjusted into an average/ratio instead of the absolute plus / minus.

I'm not much of a stat-head, but the absolution of plus / minus is flawed and isn't a good barometer for judging a player's defensie abilities (or liabilities for that matter). Even in my proposal, things aren't going to take all the on-ice factors into the equation... But it also softens inflated numbers and reflects how effective / ineffective a player is.
Instead of just being on-ice for a goal scored (as the stat currently works), you take into consideration the number of shifts that the player took in the game.

A guy takes 25 shifts and the team gives up 4 goals while he's on ice, he's got a plus / minus average of -.16 for the game. The averages are never going to be that high, but it'd be more consistent than an inflating, solid number that plus / minus is now.

Clark Brooks - Staff Writer / Ridiculously Inconsistent Trickle of Consciousness

I know a lot of people dismiss plus/minus outright. I don't rely on it as the standard of who is or isn't good defensively but I think the stat has merit as an indicator. I would like to see power play goals factored in and I think guys who are in the box serving penalties should be dinged with a minus when a power play goal is scored.

Matt Amos - Staff Writer / Don't Trade Vinny

Well, as a center, this may be biased, but I'd like them to create a stat for successful screens. In other words, when a goal is scored with a guy in front - that doesn't hit anything on the way - the guy providing the screen would get a screen in the statline.

And if you really want to dive into it, when a defenseman screens his own goalie, it could be a negative category as well.