Monday, December 12, 2011

Top 25 NHL defensive defensemen in 2011-12: Josh Gorges ranks 3rd

One-third into the 2011-12 season, enough hockey has been played to give us a good idea of the best players so far this season. Now let’s have a look at the best defensive defensemen in the NHL this year. Those rearguards are often forgotten when we look at their team’s overall success, but they are key contributors nonetheless in helping their team make the playoffs.

The formula used for the table below is the following: ((+/- ratio + blocked shots + takeaways – giveaways)*penalty killed ice time per game)*Corsi relative Quality of Competition.

The Corsi relative (or Corsi Rel) is a way to compare players that neutralizes the team effects, Corsi Rel is a player’s Corsi when they are on the ice versus when they are off. If a player has a Corsi/60 of 6.0 (meaning the team directs 5 more shots towards the opposing net than they allow when the player is on the ice), but a Corsi/60 of 5.0 when the player is sitting on the bench, the player’s Corsi Rel is 1.0. Corsi Rel is always per 60 minutes of ice time.

The Quality of Competition is a pro-rated stat for each player, measuring the rating of the opposition per minute of ice time. Higher means tougher competition, zero is average, and negative means inferior competition.

QoC Corsi Rel - A quality of competition metric that uses Corsi Rel rather than rating. Over 1.000 is stiff competition indeed, and 1.500 is insane Dani Girardi and Nicklas Lidstrom territory. Less than -1.000 is extremely sheltered (hello, Jody Shelley and George Parros).

NameTeamPlus/Minus RatingBlocked shotsTakeawaysGiveawaysPK Ice Time/gameCorsi Rel QoCTotal
1Dan GirardiNYR67921303.951.958587.79
2Ryan McDonaghNYR85822143.712.011552.10
3Josh GorgesMTL13788203.371.429380.44
4Niklas HjalmarssonCHI67811182.651.82371.37
5Francois BeaucheminANA-37110144.851.034320.95
6Brent SeabrookCHI36811152.671.712306.26
7Ladislav SmidEDM1779183.811.105290.49
8Rotislav KleslaPHX752663.061.429257.99
9Kimmo TimonenPHI10589183.790.888198.57
10Duncan KeithCHI24819192.271.712194.31
11David SchlemkoPHX7501042.221.371191.75
12Victor HedmanTB-95514143.481.143182.97
13Eric BrewerTB-8638123.491.010179.77
14Ryan SuterNAS113612132.631.436173.73
15Filip KubaOTT3528223.691.110167.93
16Nicklas LidstromDET12251382.161.832166.20
17Paul MartinPIT-64619173.251.217166.12
18Karl AlznerWAS12389122.491.384161.97
19Nicklas KronwallDET-17310103.460.645160.68
20Tim GleasonCAR-15115182.651.287160.30
21Chris PhilippsOTT0628173.580.800151.79
22Douglas MurraySJ5587201.991.519151.14
23Johnny BoychukBOS12405102.351.354149.55
24Shea WeberNAS144113242.451.370147.69
25Tom GilbertEDM-15116273.680.943135.34

As you can see, most of these rearguards are used more often than not against tougher opponents and log a lot of ice on the penalty kill. These blue liners sacrifice their bodies to block shots and avoid giving away the puck to their opponents by making good decisions while handling the puck. Surprisingly no Zdeno Chara or Keith Yandle among the defensive leaders.

Who do you think is a surprise? For me the biggest surprise is David Schlemko.

Fred is a freelance sports write and translator, as well as a featured Montreal Canadiens blogger on and a baseball columnist on Fred also joined in time for the 2011-12 season.

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