The Leafs Defensively: Who's good and who's not.
Yesterday I took a look at the Leafs players on the PK to see who has seen good result and who has seen bad results when they have been on the ice. Today I do the same thing but look at 5v5 situations from the defensive side of things to see if there is any consistency between 5v5 and the PK.
Interestingly, this is the exact opposite as we saw on the PK where Reimer had the worst save percentage and Scrivens had the highest. We should have more confidence in these numbers so it is quite possible that Reimer’s poor results are primarily luck driven. The question is, how much can he improve it? Last year on the PK Reimer had an 85.6% save percentage which while is much better than this seasons 77.3% still is not good. He ranked 34th of 40 goalies last season on the PK while he was 6th of 48 at 5v5. Last year Reimer had a 93.3% 5v5 save percentage so he is actually better this season at 5v5. Is it sustainable? Time will tell.
For those regular readers, I believe players can drive shooting percentages (especially) and suppress oppositions shooting percentages (less so) but we are below the threshold of where small sample size issues outweigh the benefits of doing a goal analysis over a fenwick/corsi analysis. So, when ranking players defensively we should focus on fenwick (for now).
Ughhh. While Schenn’s GAA isn’t the worst (it’s actually pretty good relative to his teammates) his fenwick against is awful. Significantly worse than his teammates. While Schenn has had a slight bias towards defensive zone faceoffs it isn’t enough so to justify this difference in fenwick against. Liles, Franson and Komisarek had a higher percentage of defensive zone faceoffs and had better results. Taking it to a league level, of the 166 defensemen with 250 minutes of 5v5 ice time this season Schenn ranks second last in fenwick against per 20 minutes. Only Derek Morris of Phoenix is worse. In the summer I wrote an article about how poor Schenn is defensively and there isn’t a lot in the numbers above to change my opinion any.
Phaneuf, Gunnarsson and Gardiner were the primary offensive zone players which explains in part why Phaneuf and Gunnarsson lead the list but also show that Gardiner still struggles defensively as is often the case with a rookie. Hopefully, unlike Schenn, he’ll improve with experience.
Kessel, Lupul, Bozak – score a lot of goals, give up a lot of goals. The three of them have very high fenwick against relative to their teammates. This isn’t unsual for offensive players (high risk, high reward), but the best players in the league find a way to accomplish both offense and defense (i.e. Datsyuk). The second line of Grabovski, MacArthur and Kulemin seem much more defensively responsible, but surprisingly they have a higher percentage of offensive zone starts than the Kessel line so they should have better numbers, but maybe not to the extent they do. Brown, Steckel and Dupuis do seem like pretty solid defensive players 5v5. Those fenwick against numbers for those three are quite good relative to the rest of the team, and the rest of the league.
Overall the Leafs are a decent enough defensive team at 5v5. Especially once you look past the Kessel-Lupul-Bozak line up front and Schenn (and to a lesser extent Gardiner) on defense. For some strange reason though, that hasn’t translated very well to the PK. Why they suck so bad on the PK is pretty dumbfounding.