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.
|Goals Against per 20 min.||0.902||0.895|
|Fenwick Against per 20min.||15.400||15.424|
|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.
|Goals Against per 20 min.||0.976||0.890|
|Fenwick Against per 20min.||15.053||14.641|
|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.