Schenn vs Komisarek defensively

A few weeks ago I questioned whether Luke Schenn was really a quality shut down defenseman as some believe and some people too exception to that.  Additionally, now that Lebda has been traded away the favourite defenseman whipping boy of Leaf fans seems to be Mike Komisarek.  Because of this, I decided we should conduct a comparison of the defensive ability of these two players to see if Leaf fans perceptions of these two players matches reality.

Schenn Komisarek
TOI 864:56 558:53
Goals Against per 20 min. 0.902 0.895
Opposition GF/20min. 0.767 0.757
HARD+ 0.810 0.840
Fenwick Against per 20min. 15.400 15.424
Opposition FenF/20min. 13.708 13.798
FenHARD+ 0.934 0.929
Def. Zone Face Off % 31.9% 37.8%

The above table shows all of the pertinent stats from the 2010-11 season for 5v5 close situations (close being teams are within 1 goal in first or second period or tied in third).  I have included both goal and fenwick based stats because I know some people prefer fenwick but in reality they tell pretty much the same story.

Last season when Luke Schenn was on the ice the Leafs gave up about the same number of goals against per 20 minutes (0.902 vs 0.895) and fenwick against per 20 minutes (15.400 vs 15.424) as when Komisarek was on the ice.  Schenn played against slightly tougher competition based on opposition goals for per 20 minutes while Komisarek played against slightly tougher competition based on opposition fenwick for per 20 minutes.  The end results were Komisarek had a slightly better HARD+ than Schenn (0.840 vs 0.810) but Schenn had a slightly better FenHARD+ (0.934 vs 0.929).  It should be noted that these ratings are quite poor for both players.

HARD+ and FenHARD+ take into account quality of teammates and competition, but they do not take into account zone starts.  For Komisarek, 37.8% of the faceoffs he was on the ice for were taken in the defensive zone while only 31.9% were in the defensive zone for Luke Schenn.  So, while all the other numbers are quite similar, the defensive zone face off percentage clearly means Komisarek faced tougher situations defensively than Luke Schenn.  I didn’t include the data above, but Schenn played with higher quality teammates than Komisarek (for example, Lebda’s #1 defense partner was Komisarek).

For interest sake, and to gain more confidence in the results, here are each players stats over the past 2 seasons.

Schenn Komisarek
TOI 1537:15 853:46
Goals Against per 20 min. 0.976 0.890
Opposition GF/20min. 0.751 0.759
HARD+ 0.783 0.853
Fenwick Against per 20min. 15.053 14.641
Opposition FenF/20min. 13.534 13.679
FenHARD+ 0.932 0.957
Def. Zone Face Off % 31.9% 35.7%

Over the past 2 seasons the edge is distinctly in Komisarek’s favour though in 2009-10 Komisarek had far fewer defensive zone faceoffs than last season (only 28.7%).  For the 2 years Schenn gave up more shots and goals per 20 minutes than Komisarek and faced weaker opponents (offensively at least) and had a much lower defensive zone face off percentage.

Based on the above, Leaf fans perceptions of Komisarek are pretty much true.  He has struggled defensively and hasn’t lived up to his contract or expectations but is also nothing to suggest that Luke Schenn has been any better at the defensive aspect of the game.  Schenn has just played more, not better.

This article has 5 Comments

  1. I’d be curious to see what Schenn’s numbers look like for only the second half of last season. We all know he struggled in the beginning with the rest of the team, but it appeared that he managed to turn his game around and find his groove.

    1. I don’t specifically have first half/second half stats but I do have his stats when he is playing with Reimer in goal which is pretty much a first/second half split in 5v5 close situation.

      With Reimer: 0.921 goals against per 20
      With Giguere/Gustavsson: 0.886 goals against per 20

      With Reimer: 21.233 corsi against per 20
      With Giguere/Gustavsson: 21.180 corsi against per 20

      In fact, it appears Schenn was marginally better the first half. If we look at all 5v5 play the difference is larger though score effects might come into play. He played mostly with Kaberle prior to Kaberle being traded and Gunnarsson after the trade. His numbers are better with Kaberle than Gunnarsson.

  2. An anecdotal comment. I’ve always disliked cumulative shot statistics, inferring from nothing more than personal experience that shot production is misleading. So, for the first time, I looked at the FenHART+ et al. ratings for the Leafs D. Brett Lebda drew consistently good numbers for shots, Fenwick and Corsi.

    Under qualitative analysis (I watched his games all year), traditional hockey statistics and your standalone HART+ ratings, Lebda’s play is at the bottom of the charts. Yet FenHART+ et al. place him at the top of the charts. This, to me, appears to be demonstrate the poverty of the shot statistic in general.


  3. Apropos: My intuition (don’t know of any comparative analyses) is that hockey is a more stochastic sport than the other major North American sports. From reading your blog and others’ blogs, there seems to be little push for more rigorous qualitative approaches. It seems the debates lie exclusively within the domain of quantitative analysis.

    Social psychology and sociology have created many happy marriages between qualitative and quantitative data, recognizing the poverty of both to explain complex behaviour. No reason this can’t happen with hockey stats.

    1. And on that front I would recommend Brady and Collier [eds] “Rethinking Social Inquiry” (a very thoughtfull answer to the very famous quantitative guide by King, Keohane and Verba “Designing Social Inquiry”) to anyone curious as to how to mix these up to better both methodologies.

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