Some simple ice hockey math

Everybody and their dog sitters aunt is commenting on the “lousy refereeing” in last nights FIN-CZE game at the hockey world championships.

Was the refereeing bad? Yes.

Did Finland play badly? Yes.

The outcome of a hockey game (or any game, really!) is a sum of many factors. Probably dozens, really. But some general grouping of them can be used to arrive to the following function:

Outcome = Home team performance + visiting team performance + refereeing + luck

Last night Czech Republic (officially the visiting team) gave a solid performance. Luck was pretty neutral as far as I saw: no weird bounces or inopportune broken sticks to speak of.

Refereeing was bad, some pretty obvious calls were missing while other shady ones were made. And maybe more significantly, it seemed to be bad with a bias.

But that doesn’t remove the first variable, home team performance! And last night, the “home” team, Finland, played bad hockey. Simple as that!

Could Finland have won, given the way they played, if the refereeing was up to par? Maybe. With some luck? Probably. But they were not “robbed the victory”. If anything, it was just made little bit more difficult for them, a difference significant enough to make a difference and to prevent them from winning with weak performance. They also could have played better, and thus made the bad refereeing insignificant enough.

Outcome of a game is a sum of many things. Refereeing, no matter how obviously and painfully bad, is just one of them.

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