Advanced stats say Matt Hunwick is the NYR’s best defenseman and Rick Nash stinks!

Matt Hunwick is apparently the best the Rangers got on  the blue-line (Getty)

Matt Hunwick is apparently the best the Rangers got on the blue-line (Getty)

Here I go again, stirring the fancy stats pot! I ran the numbers on and found some startling revelations about our NY Rangers.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.55.46 PMFirst off, we were all wrong about Matt Hunwick! Matter of fact, we were dead wrong! Hunwick is the best defenseman on the NY Rangers, followed closely by Ryan McDonagh. Oh wait, that’s wrong…John Moore.

Believe me I shook my head on that too. Let me make this clear, Matt Hunwick has played nicely for the Rangers, but numbers be damned, he isn’t even the 5th best defenseman on the team and if Conor Allen ever gets the call he drops to 7th.

Rick Nash's offense is needed- GETTY

Rick Nash’s offense is needed- GETTY

By the way, Rick Nash has 9 goals on the year…NINE! However, if you go by the corsi numbers, he’s slightly better at possessing the puck than Tanner Glass. Maybe the dope should stop scoring on 30% of his shots! I mean if he would just shoot more pucks that get stopped his possession numbers will improve – right?

Now this article will likely generate some heat. I mean, one time I was told I didn’t believe in climate change when I questioned these irrefutable numbers. I’m thinking I’ll next be accused of still believing the world is flat or that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

You see, everyday I get these numbers thrown in my face. Most times it’s to remind me how much Tanner Glass sucks (which he doesn’t). You can’t use it for that and then ignore the fact that its telling you Rick Nash stinks too! Plus you can’t try and reason it away for Nash while ignoring a “non-stats” person’s argument of toughness and the intangibles Glass brings.

Articles are sprouting everywhere about how these numbers work or how they just added a new component they didn’t think of that makes them more pertinent than the day before. But here’s a question? Who’s governing them and making sure how they are applying formulas is 100% correct? Is their an Advanced Hockey Stats Council I don’t know of?

Mats Zuccarello (Getty Images)

Mats Zuccarello (Getty Images)

Even here we write about advanced stats because we know it is growing relevant. Prime example, we’ve been looking at Zuccarello’s numbers as he leads the team in the possession category, but still couldn’t score for his life. We figured he would bounce back as eventually the puck would have to go in. However, at the end of the day, the final score isn’t NY Rangers 52.3 CF% vs. NY Islanders 47.7 CF%.


So much isn’t taken into account and even when it is, there are flaws. Capitals coach, Barry Trotz recently told’s Dan Rosen:

“Teams were really clogging us up and when we needed to chip pucks and have self-retrieval we we’re trying to dangle,” Trotz said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I call it analytics death. There’s a time to carry and there’s a time to self-chip it. You’ve got all the speed so self-chip it, get on the other side of the guy, and hang onto it. We were trying to dangle guys.”

Rosen went on to explain something we all know of the analytics crowd. According to their math, dumping the puck makes no sense because you’re just giving it away. He further explains what any fan who watches the game knows – if the opposition is standing you up at the blue-line time and time again, you have to dump it in and plaster one of their defenseman to create a turnover and generate offense.

Bottom line, I feel advanced stats make sense over a much larger sample size, like 40 games. We all know that if you can control the puck (possession) you increase your odds of winning. However, these days I’m seeing CORSI stats by periods and it’s driving me nuts.

Guess what, no fancy stats could’ve predicted what the Rangers would do in the third period against the Minnesota Wild. And that’s the beauty of hockey! It’s organized chaos on ice and sometimes it’s beautiful and others downright ugly.

You fancy stat guys and gals keep talking about Fenwick’s this and PDO’s that with a dash of Relative Close whatchimacallits and I will keep enjoying the game for the piece of artwork that it is. Even Pierre McGuire was down on analytics, but you guys keep at it.




Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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