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.
Anonymous 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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