Misleading Information Regarding Nail Yakupov

The host of the Oilers’ radio broadcast recently tweeted some misleading information regarding sophomore Nail Yakupov.

First off, the plus/minus stat is an extremely poor method of measuring a player’s performance. Yakupov, without a doubt, is struggling this year. With only nine goals, and eight assists so far, it’s clear he’s well off the pace he set last year. But tacking on a statistic that rewards and punishes players who may have nothing to do with the goal scored is just bad reporting. Other factors that can drive a player’s plus minus down include shoddy goaltending, unlucky bounces and empty net goals.

David Staples of Cult of Hockey put together a nice piece on why the plus/minus stat lacks credibility:

In a five year study — compiled through game in, game out video analysis of every goal scored for and against the Edmonton Oilers from 2008 to 2013 — it’s apparent that on goals for, about 70 per cent of the plus marks are correctly assigned to players who make some contribution, major or minor, to the goal. But 30 per cent of the plus marks are awarded to players who make little or no contribution at all to the goal being scored.

Wilkins’ tweet also comes after a game in which Yakupov, I thought, played pretty well. Against the Stars, Yakupov made some great plays, including a couple hits that lead to a nice scoring chance for the Oilers. He set up Gagner late in the game for a decent scoring chance as well.

Bruce McCurdy of Cult of Hockey provided this summary of Yakupov’s game. A lot of positives, but unfortunately they get overshadowed by misleading stats like plus/minus.

#64 Nail Yakupov, 5. Some good, some bad. Proactive without the puck, and was credited with 3 hits and 3 takeaways. Had one good sequence when he hit Sergei Gonchar on the end boards, stole the puck, walked out for a decent backhand shot, then when Gonchar recovered the rebound chased him down and hit him again. Made one nifty steal for an apparent chance only to bobble it away. Later broke his stick on an attempted one-timer of a nice Hemsky set-up. Made a soft pass to a covered Eberle which resulted in the jailbreak on the 2-1 goal that put the Stars ahead to stay. Wound up -2 after being out for the empty-netter as well, which put him at a frigid -30 on the year, by far the worst in the NHL.

I get that Yakupov is struggling, but let’s not suggest he’ll approach the record for worst plus/minus. Keep the reporting fair and put the right information into the right context.


Reid was kind enough to clarify his comment and provide some context:

+/- can be misleading. Yak did have a decent game Tuesday. A couple of listeners asked if he could break the all-time record. I provided that stat. Never suggested he would approach the record. Rob and I discussed +/- on the call in show. I don’t feel I did any unfair reporting.

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