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RIP CSSI GTFO

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Get it? It's a broken index!
Get it? It's a broken index!
Tom Pennington

Since taking over the idea for the Common Sense Scoring Index in the 2010-11 season, I've gone over every Red Wings' game with a fine-toothed comb looking for ways to fix the problem with traditional statistics failing to accurately capture how much a player is really helping to contribute to the successes and failures of the Red Wings. With the help of the readers, we've had a great deal of success in answering questions like that.

However, with the growth of hockey analytics over the last few years, much of what we were doing in the very limited scope of the Red Wings added very little in the way of additional clarity. Essentially, the return on time invested has shrunk considerably. To add to that, my ability to usefully separate that time out to invest into the system has grown considerably smaller as my family has grown larger.

It took me all of two preseason games this year to realize that my family had grown to the point where none of the options to give the CSSI as it's known the kind of time and attention it needed were going to fit with what I want to be as a father while still holding down a real-time job (although if somebody wants to pay me to do this full time then I'm yours [wink-wink]).

Here's the plan going forward

I still intend to do individual goal and penalty breakdowns because I enjoy doing them and I think it would bother me personally not having the credit/blame counting that I've been doing when it comes time to make sense of what's happening. These will generally be posted a few hours after games or the next morning. To go along with these breakdowns, I intend to include more information from the various resources available to us in regards to both traditional and advanced stats.

In many ways, what comes out will be the same CSSI as it ever was, except there will be a bit more information. However, there will no longer be bonus adjustments counted. Without these, we're no longer really doing an entire scoring index, but rather a beefed-up version of a plus/minus adjustment system. I don't have the same Pavlovian cringing for the concept of plus/minus as many people seem to have gathered through years of misuse of that stat, but the shortcomings of such an event-driven count mean I don't believe that I should keep calling it the CSSI after gutting one of that system's most-important features.

Why are the Bonus Adjustments Going Away?

Put simply, to capture the bonus adjustments, I needed a lot of my attention span to capture the kinds of plays which would help adjust for the problems associated with waiting for a goal or penalty to happen before a guy could get credited with having done something. Just like we can't count on giveaways, takeaways, or hits as good stats because of inconsistencies in the counting process, the only way I can promise enough consistency in putting together the Bonus Adjustments is to dedicate more time to the project than I have even in the last few years, and honestly that's not something I'm willing to do.

The commenters have helped a ton over these years in making sure that it wasn't just my biases running the Bonus Adjustments, but that worked as a check only. I do not believe that doing Bonus Adjustments by random, inconsistent committee would create an acceptable substitute.I believe that there are options which would still make the Bonus Adjustments system work (one person doing it every game & then submitting to review like we've always done, people taking turns being the one judge with a consistent committee oversight, or a consistent committee of people doing all games). However, the time and energy to organize and oversee such an alternative is not something I'm interested in doing.

What's Wrong With Just Goal/Penalty Adjustments?

There's nothing inherently wrong with doing adjustments for only goals and penalties, which is why I'm actually going to do it. It's just that the basic understanding of WHY we're doing the adjustments has to change, and that change is big enough that I don't think the new system should be called the CSSI anymore.

What the system does without bonus adjustments will be to count the number of screwups/credits get when there is a goal or a penalty. By the end of the season, we'll know which players turned the puck over the most in ways that led directly to goals against the Wings. We'll know which guys had the best true penalty differential as well (advanced stats sites are already counting penalty differential, but it treats all penalties as equally deserved/drawn regardless of context, which I believe creates a much larger margin of error). What we won't know is how many opportunities a guy is being given to screw up or how many times his screw ups are a case of a momentary unlucky lapse in an otherwise dominant game (or vice versa).

I believe that we'll be able to add a great deal of this context back in over the course of a season thanks to metrics which are being counted elsewhere such as zone starts, quality of competition, and simple time on ice. We've already got a few measures that when taken into their proper context can do a fairly good job of measuring what kind of luck a player is getting, so just as we would use traditional plus/minus to give clues that perhaps we should be looking deeper into a player to identify strengths/shortcomings, a system based solely on adjusting event-based plus minus can come built in with a little bit of the extra context we might be looking for in such analyses.

Where I Need Help

Since I'm no longer calling this the Common Sense Scoring Index, I'm looking for a new name to put on the postgame analysis articles. As a reminder, these articles will go over a brief narrative summary of the game, the refereeing, the goaltending battle, the goals scored, penalties, traditional/advanced stats, and observations on what the stats say (Eyeball-vs-Ledger Test). Go ahead and tell me in the comments what you think they should be called. If yours is the best one, I'll high-five you in the hallway in front of all the cool kids. If you come up with a bad one that's funny, you'll probably get lots of recs from the cool kids too. You can't lose.