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Hitch thinks blocked shots are ‘the most useless stat’ in the NHL

Apr 25, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT

Ken Hitchcock AP

Perhaps unaware the NHL also tracks hits, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock believes blocked shots are “the most useless stat” in the league.

“If you’re blocking shots it means the puck is in your zone a lot,” Hitchcock said today, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “When you’re a shot-blocking team, you never get it back.”

Again, we’d say the same thing about hits. Teams can only hit when they don’t have the puck.

Now, obviously, if a player’s got a chance to block a shot or make a hit, he should do it. But there’s folly in assuming a team that racks up a big total in those stats is a good team because of it.

The top five shot-blocking teams in the NHL during the regular season: Montreal, Calgary, San Jose, Toronto, and Winnipeg.

The top five in hits: Los Angeles, Columbus, Toronto, Ottawa, and Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, the defending champion Blackhawks finished 25th in blocks and dead last in hits.

  1. matt14gg - Apr 25, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    I actually think “shots on goal” is the most useless. “Scoring chances” are very telling, but SOG’s can be extremely misleading.

    • alexnewca - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      Shots on goal just tracks how many shots that either hit the goalie or go in the net. What’s misleading about that?

      • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:55 PM

        It’s misleading because Shots on Goal is often synonymous with how much pressure a goaltender was under. It can be quite deceiving because, depending on the defense, many shots can be very low scoring percentage shots that can still make it to the net but are very basic easy positioning saves.

        Teams that have a five goalie approach to defense will inflate the stats of their goaltender.

    • matt14gg - Apr 25, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      “idonthavethebloodyoucrave” I’d say you covered it nicely…thank you.

  2. imleftcoast - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Canucks hired a coach who thinks it’s the most important stat. If that coach is currently golfing, who needs to be fired?

    • elvispocomo - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      Hey, we could be the Leafs, which are top 5 in both blocked shots and hits yet have been golfing for years.

      • imleftcoast - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:55 PM

        Games lost to injury due to blocking shots might be a more useful statistic. It certainly was relevant to Vancouver this year, and the Rangers last year. Blocking shots in the playoffs might make sense, but during the regular season, I think players should leave it to the goalie.

  3. joey4id - Apr 25, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    So many discussions about what’s a worthy stat and what’s not. I think all stats have their value. Ex: Avs only had 12 shots on net last game….. Not good enough. How many of them were actually scoring chances? Wild had 32 shots? Very good. How many were actually scoring chances? Where are the shots taken from?

    To effectively use all the stats you would need to have a baseline of your team’s stats in every category and identify your sweet spot. Almost impossible to do because there are so many intangibles.

    I don’t think you can choose any one of the stats and use it as the ultimate stat to go by. Blocked shots for and against are good to know. How many did a team attempt and how many got blocked? Face offs won/loss. Giveaways/takeaways in all three zones. Team/individual plus/minus also have their value. Are hits more important than the result of a hit? Did the hit result in a turnover and scoring chance? There are many stats and none of which should be ignored, or to live and die by. When analyzed they should paint a picture of a teams strengths, weaknesses, and habits. Stats are a tool.

    How do you prepare your team to play against an opponent? Use data (stats) and information (advanced scouting reports) to gain knowledge of the opponent, and use that knowledge to devise a game plan to defend against the opponents strengths and exploit their weaknesses.

  4. clawedjeroo28 - Apr 25, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Hitch obviously isn’t watching the Rangers Flyers series. The Rangers block EVERYTHING. Worked out pretty well for them so far.

    • thesportsjudge - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      So wait, Torts is in Vancouver(for now) yet the NYR are STILL blocking shots? That’s unheard of!

      • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        Even if it isn’t part of their new coach’s overall philosophy, it’s not uncommon that first year coaches will still keep a successful portion of the former coach’s system, depending on the roster make up, as to not completely overload their players.

  5. jernster21 - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    “Teams can only hit when they don’t have the puck.”

    Unless your name is Peter Forsberg.

  6. pavelfitzgerald - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    So basically, Winnipeg sucks?

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