Plus Minus Equals: Evil

DC Sports Nexus ---- Monday, October 24, 2011

The Unadulterated Evil that Is Plus/Minus

What is Plus/Minus. It is a question anyone who sees a hockey stat sheet should ask. It's almost Halloween so I will explain it. Just for you!

Plus/Minus is evil. If the Trapezoid mated with Overtime Points then their spawn would be Plus/Minus. Plus/Minus is the kind of statistic that would find you dying in the streets, take your wallet, and step over you without calling for help. Plus/Minus would date your mother, sister, and girlfriend all at the same time. Plus/Minus is your worst nightmare.

But I'm getting ahead, let me explain why the previous paragraph is true...

Fantasy Sports Addiction

A few years ago I had somewhat of a problem. A fantasy sports problem. Sure everyone plays fantasy football. Many play baseball & basketball. Some even play hockey. But one day as I was putting in Martin Truex Jr to replace Juan Carlos Montoya I realized that I needed to stop with the fantasy overload. I abandoned my fantasy auto-racing team, abandoned my fantasy golf team, and even abandoned my fantasy Survivor team.

I did however keep my fantasy hockey team (because there was money involved). Aside from having a TV show fantasy team, the fact that I paid money to play fantasy hockey (a game about a sport that I did not watch, did not follow, did not read about, knew 2 players names, Knew 60% of the teams, and did not acknowledge its existence) was pretty much the worst decision ever.

Plus/Minus You Evil Beast

This is where I came across the dreaded plus/minus for the first time. It is hard for me to remember back to that time, but the pure puzzled frustration that I felt back then as a hockey hater when I saw a scoring category was plus/minus, it must have been quite a site to see.

I Googled what Plus/Minus was and asked like an idiot in the message boards, but I never really fully understood the concept. It was irrelevant to me at the time, as all I cared about was if someone was +3, and not what the +3 meant. My team won the championship by the way, and I won $250. (You should have seen my final post bragging about how I watched 0 games and beat all the hockey fans)

I Don't Care That Rick Nash (CBJ) Has A Plus/Minus, But Steve Nash (PHX)?

Plus/Minus was gone for a while. Life was good. Life was even. But then suddenly it returned,
and in the strangest of the NBA. All of my Wizards blogging counterparts and all the NBA blogs I read began discussing plus minus.

Just like hockey, I kinda understood, but didn't really find it to be worth paying attention to. Andre Blatche had 4 points, 1 assist, and 3 rebounds in 35 minutes of playing. That is what I cared about. I didn't care that Andre Blatche had a -24 for the game. (Wizards fans, can I get a chuckle?)

Even now, I don't remember what the NBA is, but I recall there being no defense, so was everyone's plus/minus a negative?

Ok Now I'll Try To Explain For Real

Plus/Minus is a stat designed to measure defensive effectiveness. It appears to be something invented because non-goal scoring players wanted some love too. However it doesn't happen all the time, which is confusing. It doesn't happen when you are on the Power/Play (unless you are shorthanded) and it doesn't happen on penalty shots. So don't just look up goals scored and try to do the math. I still don't fully get it, and this whole paragraph could even be wrong!

So please, if anyone has any good explanation besides "it means the player is a good defender" then help me out in the comments...


Dustin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
d4bb8c8e-fe7d-11e0-8561-000bcdcb471e said...

The players on the ice for the team that scored a goal each get a +1.
The players on the ice for the team giving up the goal each get a -1.
Due to the natural advantage, power play goals do not influence a player's +/-. It's a no-go on penalty shots too, due to the unique circumstances. However, shorthanded goals are included in the total.

Your post isn't totally wrong as +/- can be slightly unfair at times. Players coming on to the ice for a line change when a goal is scored are technically responsible for the actions of the player that they are replacing, as it is the player ON THE ICE that receives the + or -.

NOTE: Nicklas Lidstrom (look him up if you haven't yet) was a minus for the first time of his almost 20-year NHL career last season. He was a -2.
Leading up to last season, the Detroit captain was a cumulative +431.

Keep up the great posts!

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