We recently wrote about how the Maple Leafs’ defensemen ranked for offensive play using five-on-five on-ice stats per 60 minutes played as tracked and recorded by naturalstattrick.com.
In this post, we’ll look at the same defensemen’s defensive play using the same six categories we used in the study of their offensive play. The only difference this time is that we’ll be looking at Shot-Attempts Against, Shots Against, Scoring-Chances Against, High-Danger Scoring-Chances Against, Goals Against, and Expected-Goals Against.
As a note, we are going to use 299 minutes as a minimum of ice time for the players in the ranking. The reason is to include Mark Giordano’s play in the study. Giordano played 299:36 for the Maple Leafs in the regular season.
Shot Attempts Against per 60
Shots Against per 60
Scoring Chances Against per 60
High Danger Chances Against per 60
Goals Against per 60
Expected Goals Against per 60
The Average Ranking for All Maple Leafs Defensemen
If we take the average ranking of all nine players in the six defensive categories we get the following:
Of the defensemen remaining on the team, Giordano put up by far the best defensive numbers. It is not surprising when you consider that his skill level is such that he is really a top-four defenseman, but was used in primarily a bottom-six role with the Maple Leafs. However, his signing with the team for $800,000 a season seems like a steal.
Once again Dermott put up excellent defensive numbers. In the five seasons Dermott played for the Maple Leafs, he was always near the top when it came to his defensive analytics. Mind you, it was in a bottom-six role; still, we doubt he ever got the respect he deserved for his defensive play. Hopefully, things will work out better for him in Vancouver.
Both Liljegren and Sandin were at the top of the offensive stats and they are again near the top of the defensive stats. These two young defensemen show much promise and potential.
Bodie finds himself midpack when it comes to defensive numbers. He does play the toughest defensive minutes for the Maple Leafs, so we consider this a good showing.
We aren’t sure if Lyubshkin finishing just below the middle of the pack defensively is a surprise or not. While his defensive play is regarded as his strength, he’s still more of a bottom-pair or slightly higher defenseman. He did play a lot of his games higher up in the order, playing alongside Rielly on the top pair.
The fact that Muzzin and Holl finished toward the bottom of the defensive numbers this season is no surprise. Both obviously struggled this past season. The numbers pretty much match the eye test.
Rielly’s defensive play is not his strength. This analysis reflects that fact. By the eye test, he was better defensively this season, but he still spends a lot of time on the wrong side of the puck in an attempt to create that offense.
Comparing All Maple Leafs Defensemen Both Offensively and Defensively
In our next article, we will put the offensive numbers and the defensive numbers together to see how each of the Maple Leafs’ defensemen fared overall.
Related: ‘Mr. Hockey’ Gordie Howe
[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf