In the NHL a big deal is often made about blocked shots. After watching the Caps nearly lose Brooks Laich to injury last night I wondered again why teams put such emphasis on them. For one thing, players lack the padding to safely block such shots so they regularly incur injury from doing so. Secondly, the shots blocked are typically low percentage outside shots. Thirdly, the player takes himself out of the play when going down to block a shot. A number of times in the NYR-Washington series I've seen a player simply skate around a player who had gone down to block a shot. (These people aren't Bobby Orr in terms of their ability to spring up after blocking a shot.) Since the NHL records this stat, I used it to do a Pearson correlation calculation between the total shots a team had blocked and points accumulated during the season:
Unsurprisingly, to my mind, total blocked shots doesn't track at all with point scoring success, the Pearson correlation number is actually negative, -.1428. Of course, this isn't definitive proof of its ineffectiveness, no one claimed it was a key to the game and maybe the stat gathering is bad or maybe some teams block only key shots while other teams do a lot of ineffective shot blocking. Nonetheless, it remains difficult for me to see why people think this is a laudable thing for a hockey player to do.