I don't like the plus-minus stat in hockey and here's why.

My first season playing fantasy hockey has been a very educational adventure. Although I am familiar with the game of hockey, the transition to fantasy hockey has been probably the most difficult in all of the four major fantasy sports that include football, basketball, baseball, and hockey.

I already had to learn the relationship between the rewarding of penalty minutes in hockey. My latest lesson in hockey is the plus-minus ( +/-, plus/minus) rating for players.

The +/- rating seems like a useful stat. It calculates the over or under a player contributes to their team score. In hockey this is kept during during normal play or even strength play when teams score goals and the stat purposely leaves out power plays and penalty shots. A player with a +5 score means that while on the ice, there teams have scored 5 more goals than given up.

The stat is also used in basketball to gauge a players relative influence on the score for the team. It doesn't make sense in football because there are separate teams for defense and offense. It doesn't make sense in baseball when substitutions and batting order really skews the stat.

The stat though is not used in fantasy basketball as a standard category. But however in fantasy hockey it is. I think it is because there are so few stats to keep in fantasy hockey that they must resort to this stat. However my main beef with it is that it requires each fantasy player to be dependent on other teammates performance.

The beauty of fantasy sports was to take a player that was playing on a team and being able to isolate their performance for your fantasy team. So when Tony Romo throws 400 yards and 5 touchdowns, it doesn't matter that his Cowboys lost to the Broncos. It also doesn't matter that Tim Lincecum San Francisco Giants scored 3 runs when he throws a perfect game. The players performance is treated in isolation.

The only other stat that is like the +/- is points allowed team defense in fantasy football. However, that is scored for only one position while +/- is scored for every non goalie in hockey. The other similar relationship is the quarterback and wide receiver. One players performance is tied to the other players, however, there are enough difference in PPR and also yards and touchdown point total difference that provides some separation.

I suppose what is motivating me here is that I am last in my league in +/- at -15 while I write this post. Several days ago I was all the way down to -30. The top team in the league is at +47. How the heck am I going to make up a 70 margin here?

But I haven't given up. I am picking player that have good +/- on the waiver wire but again much of this measure is dependent also on how there teammates are doing and +/- can vary wildly from season to season. Also, I am going with a strategy with picking bundle players for a team. So Pittsburgh, Nashville and Calgary players are my target for trade and free agency. I don't like to bundle players as now my risk cannot be dispersed among different players.

The fantasy hockey season continues...