As most NHL fans know, the "real time stats" kept each game — giveaways, takeaways, blocked shots and the like — are subjective glamor stats that nonetheless serve as supporting evidence in defining players and games. Thou shalt not hear the name "Cal Clutterbuck" without thinking about the hits stat, for example.
On Tuesday night, the Detroit Red Wings skated into Columbus and were victorious against the Blue Jackets, 5-2. But according to the numbers compiled by the official scoring staff at Nationwide Arena, they paid a physical price without much retribution:
As you can see, Detroit's Darren Helm threw a check, as did Brendan Smith. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets responded to those two hits with 33 hits for the night.
Via Kerry Fraser of TSN, the stats-keepers are "hired by the NHL as part-time employees. They receive a small stipend for each game they work." For categories such as hits, the responsibility falls to Computer Programmers. From Fraser:
"Their duties include recording each players respective shift time on the ice and a running record of who touches the puck for scoring and assist award; players + and -; face-off wins/losses and which linesman drops the puck for every face-off; shots on goal (type of shot slap shot, wrist, snap, backhand; and from what location on the ice the shot was taken); body checks/hits-which player delivered hit and to whom (rub outs and penalties do not constitute a hit); blocked shots; penalties recorded and which referee assessed/announced the penalty (which is why on rare occasions you might see one referee race his partner to the penalty box if they both have their arms up for a call). This group also records at least 3 or 4 good/excellent saves make by the goalkeepers in the game to be utilized by media for game highlights."
They're assisted by a spotter in each game, who helps with line changes and other real-time stats.
Now look: We didn't watch the entire game. It's entirely possible that the Red Wings were outhit 33-2 in a division game against an aggressive opponent. It's possible that Todd Bertuzzi (74 hits in 57 games) and Niklas Kronwall (101 hits in 64 games) played two of the most passive games of their careers. NHL.com didn't have any highlights of hits from the game; and the Red Wings are 27th in the NHL in road hits (557).
Or maybe the Blue Jackets just have inflated real time stats at home.
There's a 141-hit difference in the Jackets' 32 home games and their 31 road games. That's not as egregious as the Los Angeles Kings (202 hit difference in 33 home and 31 road) or Dallas Stars (230 hit difference in 32 home and 31 road games), but it's still rather egregious. (Seriously, Nash: Yet another reason to stay in Columbus. Hits galore!)
Ah, real-time stats. You're like Ke$ha of hockey: So sexy, so unpredictable, and in the end rather disposable.