Components of Offense: Canadiens Defensemen

 

Mar 12, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Tomas Kaberle (22) brings the puck up the ice as Buffalo Sabres center Derek Roy (9) defends during the first period at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

We finish our look at even strength offense with the defensemen. As we saw in the first article, defensemen have very little direct effect on goals scored from their own goals scored.  Average shooting percentage for defensemen on 5 on5 is 4.01%, average shot proportion is 13.4%. With such a low proportion of the shots and a shooting percentage that is less then half then that of their forward compatriots, the average defenseman is scoring about 1 in 20 of his teams goals he’ll be on ice for. Unless they are at the very top of defensemen scoring they just don’t accomplish it enough to have a significant effect. Their effect on goals scored for their team should be through their forwards scoring.

Personal shots per 60

Shooting%

Goals Scored per 60

Teammate Shots per 60

Teamate Shooting%

Team On Ice Shots per 60

Team Goals per 60

Percentage of Team Shots

Subban

5.12

2.23

0.11

25.69

9.01

30.81

2.43

16.62

Markov

3.88

4.79

0.19

27.11

9.57

30.99

2.78

12.52

Kaberle

3.56

3.90

0.14

26.80

8.51

30.36

2.42

11.73

Gorges

1.92

3.40

0.07

24.72

7.91

26.64

2.02

7.21

Emelin

3.00

3.90

0.12

24.30

7.58

27.30

1.96

10.99

Diaz

3.04

6.98

0.21

23.66

6.33

26.70

1.71

11.39

Subban is the clear king of shots, but suffered from the worst shooting percentage. His first year he was above average there so I think his 2011-12 lack of goals was an abberation. I recall Dion Phaneuf went through a similar slump one season and rebounded solidly. Long term expect Subban to be clearly the best even strength goal scorer from the group. Subban combines a solid amount of team-mate shots with his own strong rate is a pretty good basis for team offensive performance. Normally a large amount of shots from a defensemen would be a recipe for weak team shot conversion rate, but Subban has generally played with a low shot defense partner in Gill or Gorges. Subban takes a large amount and proportion of shots but he seems to be making up for his defense partner’s lack of shooting opportunities rather than taking shots instead of his forwards.

Markov and Kaberle are pretty similar on offense. Both have solid shot producing and goal scoring rates but their most important contribution is how many scoring opportunities his team-mates are getting. Markov seems to be generally a bit superior to Kaberle but both look like quality offensive defensemen over these 3 seasons.

Diaz and Emelin have widely divergent goal scoring rates but that looks like a sample size issue, just a difference of 1 goal scored in a single season on even strength. Their shot rates are pretty much identical, its likely they are pretty much the same in goal-scoring terms going forward. The same process in reverse works for their team mates. Basically the same shot rates but Emelin had the better shooting percentage and thus goals scored. Long term unless one improves drastically expect pretty similar results.

Gorges is a fine defenseman overall but on the offensive side he seems to be clearly the weakest guy of the 6. Obviously the lowest shooter and goal-scorer with not particularly great team offense.

Goals per 82

On Ice Goals per 82

Subban

2.5

53.1

Markov

4.1

60.8

Kaberle

3.0

52.9

Gorges

1.4

44.2

Emelin

2.6

42.9

Diaz

4.6

37.4

Looking at expected offense on even strength over 82 games and 16 minutes per game given team and individual goal scoring rates we see a clear separation between the top and bottom 3 defenders. Markov is the clear class of the field in terms of results and Subban and Kaberle are close. Diaz and Emelin’s results are divergent but they are based on a single season of data. Shot rates should be more reliable over that time frame and they show them to be virtually identical.

Average corsiRel QoC

Average Zone Start Ratio

Subban

0.824

47.0

Markov

0.440

52.8

Kaberle

-0.421

53.6

Gorges

0.837

46.3

Emelin

-0.107

48.1

Diaz

0.101

47.0

The roles of the defensemen are clearly divergent. Gorges and Subban have clearly been leaned on hard to play the tough minutes. That they generally get some of the stronger results are a good sign of just how good these two are. Markov is clearly been used as a a stronger second pair defender. Emelin and Diaz have about the same role as lesser 2nd pairing guys. Kaberle’s good offensive results are during generally soft minute usage over the last 3 years, which brings some context to why a lesser talent is keeping pace with Subban and Markov who had real defensive responsibilities.

Thanks to behindthenet.ca and stats.hockey.analysis.com for the databases to make this work possible.

Topics: Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Montreal Canadiens, Pk Subban, Raphael Diaz

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