Introducing Bolt Statistics (Part 2)

It’s a simple idea, really.

A site devoted to collecting, posting, and analyzing advanced statistics centered on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

I couldn’t be happier to join Mike Gallimore (who, through his work at Bolt Prospects and over Twitter, I’ve become increasingly familiar with) on this “fancy stats” journey. He birthed the idea for this site and has worked tirelessly to get it to where it is at right now. Read his intro here, if you haven’t already.

My own introduction to these metrics in regards to hockey was this past year, my first covering the Tampa Bay Lightning for Lightning 101, part of the Sports Media 101 Network. Over time, I found them invaluable in reading between the lines for how hockey players and teams were performing, the perfect complement to traditional eyeball test analysis.

Slowly, over time, advanced metrics have seeped their way into the mainstream media. James Mirtle, of The Globe and Mail, has made the leap from blogger to mainstream journalist, and has brought with him an appreciation and understanding of advanced hockey metrics. The same can be said of Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal, who made a similar leap. Even longstanding mainstream journalists like Jesse Spector (from the Sporting News) or David Staples (also of the Edmonton Journal) have incorporated the type of data-driven analysis you’ll see here at Bolt Statistics into their work.

One of the biggest problems plaguing the growing “fancy stats community” is, and always has been, accessibility. There is a very real barrier to the so-called “casual fan” that keeps them from grasping advanced statistics, either because they don’t want to, or because they don’t find them readily available, or because they are presented in an impersonal, arcane manner. There’s also (unfortunately) often a palpable air of condescension, superiority, and elitism held by the analytics crowd over those who don’t use or understand them, which doesn’t help matters, and in my opinion serves as yet another major obstacle to this type of analysis becoming fully accepted.

Furthermore, the network of bloggers, journalists, hockey fans and statisticians who make up this movement are constantly fracturing, starting, or closing down a site or blog. One person or website may take up the mantle for a short while before going defunct; another may contribute some meaningful and helpful data or analysis only to be overshadowed by another site providing similar commentary. Frankly, keeping track of which sites and bloggers are currently active and posting/analyzing data, and with what frequency, is not an easy task.

Part of our goal here at Bolt Statistics will be to remedy those problems.

When Mike approached me with a seed of an idea — to combine the work we’d already been weaving into our respective pieces at Lightning 101 and Bolt Prospects into a new, statistics-oriented site, a place where anyone interested in both this type of research and analysis and the Tampa Bay Lightning could go to find it — I jumped at the opportunity, and couldn’t be happier to be contributing here for people who want this type of content.

And, if you’re reading this, I guess that’s you. So engage with the data. Ask questions. Find answers. Question yourself. Question us. Check, and re-check, that the conclusions that are being drawn match up with what the numbers are telling you and with what your eyes say happened on the ice. Because the numbers, as useful as they are, never tell the whole story.

But at Bolt Statistics, we believe they are an important part of it.

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