Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Roundup

Alright. You've all seen Mirtle's list of the best defensive defensemen so far, and we had a bit of a discussion on it in the comments on Friday. But let's go a little deeper and try to rank the seven defensemen (not counting Sergei Fedorov) the Caps have used so far this season based solely on their defensive play. Sure, to a certain extent it's silly to try to separate the defensive play from the rest of what these guys are doing, but we'll do it anyway - we thrive in the silly.

First up? Some of the NHL's real-time stats - hits, blocked shots and takeaways. Now, it's not enough to just rank the blueliners on raw numbers. Instead, we'll look at the numbers per sixty minutes of ice time, and not all ice time, but even strength ice time plus shorthanded ice time (since power play ice time is largely irrelevant for our purposes). Here, then are the rankings:

Hits (most per sixty minutes of EV + SH TOI to fewest)
  1. Erskine
  2. Jurcina
  3. Sloan
  4. Morrisonn
  5. Green
  6. Poti
  7. Schultz
Blocked Shots (most per sixty minutes of EV + SH TOI to fewest)
  1. Erskine
  2. Jurcina
  3. Schultz
  4. Morrisonn
  5. Sloan
  6. Green
  7. Poti
Takeaways (most per sixty minutes of EV + SH TOI to fewest)
  1. Green
  2. Sloan
  3. Poti
  4. Morrisonn
  5. Jurcina
  6. Schultz
  7. Erskine
Next up, we get a little deeper into the stats using Behind The Net's five-on-five stats, with explanations where necessary:

Quality of Competition (toughest competition to weakest - these are the players against whom the defensmen are playing)
  1. Schultz
  2. Morrisonn
  3. Green
  4. Poti/Sloan
  5. Jurcina
  6. Erskine
Quality of Teammates (weakest teammates to strongest - these are the players with whom the defensmen are playing):
  1. Erskine
  2. Sloan
  3. Poti
  4. Jurcina
  5. Green
  6. Schultz
  7. Morrisonn
Goals Against On Ice Per Sixty Minutes of Five-on-Five (lowest to highest)
  1. Erskine
  2. Jurcina
  3. Green
  4. Poti
  5. Sloan
  6. Schultz
  7. Morrisonn
Shots On Goal Against plus Missed Shots Against + Blocked Shots For Per Sixty Minutes of Five-on-Five (fewest to most - basically this is counting all shot attempts towards the Caps' goal)
  1. Poti
  2. Morrisonn
  3. Sloan
  4. Green
  5. Erskine
  6. Jurcina
  7. Schultz
Penalties Committed Per Sixty Minutes of Five-on-Five (fewest to most)
  1. Sloan
  2. Poti
  3. Schultz
  4. Green
  5. Erskine
  6. Jurcina
  7. Morrisonn
And a few ranking using Behind The Net's four-on-five stats, because penalty killers need some love too:

Goals Against On Ice Per Sixty Minutes of Four-on-Five (lowest to highest)
  1. Erskine
  2. Green
  3. Morrisonn
  4. Schultz
  5. Poti
  6. Jurcina
  7. Sloan
Shots On Goal Against plus Missed Shots Against + Blocked Shots For Per Sixty Minutes of Four-on-Five (fewest to most)
  1. Morrisonn
  2. Erskine
  3. Green
  4. Jurcina
  5. Schultz
  6. Poti
  7. Sloan
Finally, from our buddies over at Hockey Analysis, the individual defensive contributions of six Caps blueliners (sorry, Tyler - not enough games played, I suppose):
  1. Poti
  2. Erskine
  3. Green
  4. Jurcina
  5. Schultz
  6. Morrisonn
Whew - that was a lot of data. But here's one last piece - total even strength plus shorthanded ice time per game:
  1. Green
  2. Schultz
  3. Poti
  4. Morrisonn
  5. Erskine
  6. Jurcina
  7. Sloan
Armed with all the above stats - and, more importantly, what your eyes have told you, how do you rank the Caps seven defensemen from a purely defensive perspective? Here's my list:
  1. Poti
  2. Erskine
  3. Green
  4. Sloan
  5. Schultz
  6. Morrisonn
  7. Jurcina
By the numbers, Erskine looks very good, but they've come against the lowest quality of competition of any blueliner on the team, and his ice time is low. Poti's quality of competition is better, and I'm a big fan of the small number of shots against when he's on the ice, but he has been a relatively poor penalty killer. Green would rate higher if my eyes didn't tell me otherwise. The sample size on Sloan is small, but he has been solid. Schultz has struggled, though he has faced the toughest competition (perhaps Sarge - who is even younger than Green - isn't quite ready to take that next step in his progression and play the big minutes covering 52's back). Morrisonn has been a little snake-bit (see the very low number of shots against), but he has taken way too many penalties and simply hasn't kept opponents from scoring. Jurcina has been fairly similar to Erskine, but worse.

I'm spent (and am by no means wed to that list). What've you got?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

The Caps are "showing who's boss" in the Southeast Division (hint: they are).... Hershey positively destroyed Bingo last night, and I mean "positively" - check out the Bears' plus/minus ratings on the night.

20 comments:

Shwedick said...

great post JP. lots of great info.


this is random but- what was your take on Gordon going 3rd in the shootout above nylander, flash (who's hot) and backstrom (monster game) ?

JP said...

Thanks, Shwedick. I might come back to the data in this post b/c I recognize that it's a little light on analysis, but I was rushed.

As for Gordo taking the penalty shot, I believe "WTF?!" was (and is) my take on it.

I can understand not giving Nylander a shot if Boudreau sees penalty shots as something of a reward rather than a right, but that makes not giving it to Nick or even Flash even more curious.

Personally, I think I'd have given it to Laich - I love "the can opener" move of his. But the four guys named here, plus Green and maybe Clark (more for the potential confidence it might have provided) definitely would've gotten the call from me before Gordo.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Good question about Gordon as a choice in the shoot out shwed. Perhaps Boudreau saw something he liked in practice? Still its questionable to have him in the top 3. We'd have a defenseen like Green ahead of him. Certainly Nylander who has a very good SO record.
2) Rating the caps defensemen on their 'defense' thus far:
Poti
Schultz
Green
Erskine
Sloan
Morrisonn
Jurcina

Scott said...

Well done JP.

mine:
Poti
Erskine
Sloan
Schultz
Morrisonn
Green
Jurcina

b.orr4 said...

If you invert the scoring for each category and give seven points for first and one point for last, our best defenseman is....John Erskine.
The re-rooled totals would be:
Erskine-64 points
Green- 61 points
Poti-58 points
Sloan-46 points(with no points given in one category)
ShaMo-46 Points
Jurcina-44 points
Schultz-43 points

Not sure what it all means other than Erskine is vastly underappreciated and Schultz is the opposite.

b.orr4 said...

That would be re-tooled, not re-rooled.

Arabella said...

Excellent and (almost) thorough stat analysis. Bravo!! Very interesting.

My eyes tell me, from a purely defensive standpoint:
1- Poti
2- Schultz
3- Sloan (but it's early yet)
4- Erskine
5- Green
6- Morrisonn
7- Jurcina

Mikey is remarkably sucky defensively this year. So far. He has been irresponsible in his own end. Where is the 'giveaway-in-your-own-zone' stat? (Or as everyone so unsavoringly calls it -- the 'cough up'.) I am willing to bet Mikey leads in that by a large margin.

I was struck at how having Gramps as a defensive partner for those few games seemed to almost turn Juice into another person. He did well! Can Jurcina's issues be traced back, in part, to his partner Erskine?

And THANKS for that heads-up in the Bears' game last night! Obliteration! Yeehaw!

JP said...

@ B - I thought about doing that, but had a major problem conceptually with considering each category of equal weight (are "Hits" really as important as "Goals Against"?).

What I'd recommend (and did) is to pick out the categories that you think matter and are of even weight (or weight them to make it make sense) then apply the scores as you did. Likely it won't be too terribly different, but it makes a bit more sense.

b.orr4 said...

@jp- Agreed, but that requires some actual thinking and I'll need a couple more cups of coffee for that. I think the bottom line is while Erskine clearly isn't our best defenseman (or close to it), he's a lot better than most of us are willing to admit. And while we all were blasting McPhee for signing him to two more years, the numbers show that it really wasn't that bad a move. In fact, it may have been a pretty good one.

JP said...

@ B - I'd temper that a bit by noting that this is defense only. Add in offensive components and he'll slide down the rankings pretty quickly.

But yeah, he's pretty much doing what is being asked of him. I'm not sure, however, that $1.25M of production is being asked of him.

captnclark said...

Re Gordon: Just like Brooksie, Gordo actually has a good move in the shootout (he scored on the Panthers in a shootout last season) but I agree using him in the top 3 wasnt a great idea.

My list of our top dmen this season:
1.Poti
2.Schultz
3.Erskine
4.Sloan
5.Green
6.Jurcina
7.Morrisonn

NS said...

1 Poti
2 Schultz
3 Sloan
4 Erskine
5 Green
6 Morrison
7 Jurcina

DMG said...

JP,

I have a hard time seeing Schultz ahead of Green defensively. Personally I'd go:

1 - Poti
2 - Schultz
3 - Erskine
4 - Green
5 - Sloan
6 - Morrisonn
7 - Jurcina

wittcap79 said...

Defens(c)e -

Poti
Schultz
Erskine
Sloan
Green
Jurcina
Morrisonn

People who should have taken that 3rd shootout chance before Boyd Gordon -

Flash
Nylander
Backstrom
Green
Laich
Fehr
Bradley

Maybe Stecks (he used to be able to score)

The only ones I actually had to THINK of was Steckel and Fehr...geez

Michael said...

Is there a statistic for "defensive zone turnovers" ? That would be the statistic that would plummet Erskine and Sloan in my eyes, and completely demolish Jurcina. It's also why Poti and Schultz have been the best defensive defensive defensemen for my money.

Ogre said...

Been saying it the last few years - Erskine is one of our better "Defensemen" and Jurcina is trash.

LA Caps Fan said...

Echo what Michael said. There should be a way to analyze giveaways, especially those in the defensive zone or those that lead to odd-man rushed. I think both Erskine and Green would take a beating on that...

HotDog88GT said...

Poti first. The Erskine gets the rest of the slots (with an honorable mention to Sloan and the rest).

Jurcina is right off my list after shooting the puck all the way across the ice and over the glass the other night. I think it was an attempted pass to AO but jeez!

Let hatred of The Erskine cease!

jason said...

I realize it's not the whole story by any means, but it is kind of interesting how the Goals Against list is almost a direct inversion of the Quality of Competition list. In fact, in comparing those two lists, it seems like Green slightly overachieves (has fewer goals against despite relatively tougher competition) and Mo underachieves.

Still, I agree with the general consensus that Poti and Schultz are our most defensively/fundamentally sound guys. Beyond that, I defer to those who have seen more action so far this year.

James Mirtle said...

I know there's a lot of emphasis being put on the strength of competition numbers, but one thing to keep in mind is that a lot of a defensive defenceman's worth comes on the penalty kill and these quality of comp numbers are only for even strength.

Erskine plays against top notch opposition on the penalty kill and has so far done a nice job. It's a different role than he's given at even strength.

That said, I don't think he'll make the "top defensive defencemen" list by the end of the year simply because he doesn't log enough minutes.