Some mainstream sites make it into the weekly review this time around. We'll start with Frank Seravalli of Philly.com, who uses Corsi and zone starts to praise the work of Andrej Meszaros, particularly since Chris Pronger went down with a hand injury:
Among defensemen who played at least 60 games this season, Carle is 33rd in the NHL in Corsi's rankings. And if you adjust that for the fact that he has a tendency to start his shift in the defensive zone, he moves up to 22nd.
It's interesting to see this level of advanced analysis make an appearance in a relatively mainstream website. No doubt, Seravalli has been influenced by the good work done by Broadstreet Hockey this year.
Over at the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Bruce McCurdy dissects the bluelines of each of the Stanley Cup winning teams over the last decade for a clue as to how best to build a winning back-end. His conclusion?
[Of the] 57 defencemen altogether, counting the fearsome foursome of Niedermayer, Lidstrom, Chelios and Rafalski twice each. Interestingly they split into nearly three nearly equal groups, as follows:
18 players drafted by the club they won with, including seven first rounders, four seconds, three thirds, two fourths, one fifth and one seventh.
20 players acquired by trade.
17 players signed as UFA,
2 "others" - one acquired on waivers, and one awarded by the league as compensation.
Tellingly, of the seven first rounders, just one - Niedermayer - was selected in the top twelve
As a whole, the champion defencemen were a veteran group. The average age was something over 30, with the top-pairing guys averaging a year or two more than that. Among 28 minute-munchers who averaged over 20 minutes a night (highlighted in bold), fifteen were 30 or older, just three 25 or younger.
It's interesting to see that winning bluelines since 2001 have featured very few youngsters and even fewer defenders chosen at the top-end of the draft. The suggestion seems to be that it's better to pick forwards with high draft picks and then trade for or sign defenders after they have already been developed at the NHL level.
Speaking of defenders, the Calgary Flames have a fairly veteran group on the blueline. I recently did a thorough quantitative analysis of the club's defensemen for FlamesNation. The investigation used each player's production rate(s), Corsi rate and quality of competition to assess his performance and determine his worth going forward.
The analysis showed how heavily Brent Sutter leaned on his top four of Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr, Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich. In contrast, Anton Babchuk, Steve Staios and Adam Pardy were highly sheltered. The possession and production rates basically correlated with difficulty of usage and zone starts at even strength, with the tough minutes guys at the bottom of the ladder and easy minutes guys leading the way.
This is an intuitive outcome, although with the Flames top-end boasting more than $13 million in cap space (Sarich, Bouwmeester, Regehr), the fact that their hard minutes guys couldn't do any better than hold their head above water should be somewhat concerning for Flames fans and management. The lone exception was Mark Giordano, who was a team leader in terms of Corsi despite playing in the club's top-four rotation all year. Ironically, he was by far the cheapest skater amongst the four mentioned, at $892,000.
Finally, we visit Devils blog In Lou We Trust, where John Fischer has a comprehensive review of all the goals allowed by Johan Hedberg this past October, including where he was beaten by the shot, a more general description of the goal and whether it could be considered "soft" or not.
This post is the first step of a larger project where Fischer will investigate all the goals allowed by Devils 'tenders this season to see where their weaknesses may have been and how many "soft" versus "quality" markers they allowed. It will be interesting to see the results.