2007-2010 5v5 Tough Matchup Leaders

I just updated the 2007-08 and 2008-09 Quality of Competition rankings on behindthenet.ca, and I wanted to see what three years worth of combined statistics tell us about tough matchups. The top 25 in Corsi-based Quality of Competition are shown below - I only included players who played regularly each season, and finished in the top 150 in the league overall in QoC:

Player Corsi QoC Off FO % Corsi Rel
R. Niedermayer 1.62 42.9 -16.4
Pahlsson 1.57 40.3 -13.1
Mitchell 1.49 41.1 -3.3
Seabrook 1.43 52.3 -0.5
Hejda 1.42 42.5 -11.2
Keith 1.40 52.0 3.3
Lidstrom 1.37 53.4 7.0
Volchenkov 1.33 47.9 -6.4
Phillips 1.32 47.5 -4.7
Kesler 1.30 42.0 8.3
M. Koivu 1.26 48.6 8.9
Pandolfo 1.18 47.4 -16.9
Pominville 1.17 50.2 1.7
Hecht 1.15 48.4 1.1
Madden 1.13 43.7 -16.2
Rafalski 1.10 54.1 5.0
Hamhuis 1.09 45.0 -2.0
Handzus 1.09 44.7 -12.2
S. Niedermayer 1.08 48.4 4.5
McClement 1.07 38.1 -10.4
Hanzal 1.05 43.6 5.4
Zetterberg 1.05 52.5 12.8
Kobasew 1.05 46.4 -12.5
Chara 1.04 48.1 8.0
Tallinder 1.03 48.7 -2.8

A lot of familiar names here: defensive forwards who played together like Madden/Pandolfo and Niedermayer/Pahlsson/Moen; first defensive pairings like Lidstrom/Rafalski, Keith/Seabrook and Phillips/Volchenkov; and top defensive players like Willie Mitchell, Jan Hejda and Mikko Koivu. For the most part, these are also guys who started out in their defensive zone a lot, and suffered on their Corsi shot totals as a result.

One guy who stands out is Ryan Kesler - he started in his own zone as often as anyone else on this list, and the Canucks still managed to generate a much better shot differential when he was on the ice than when he was off. This is also a testament to the defensive skills of Sami Salo, Alex Burrows and Willie Mitchell, who've frequently been Kesler's linemates in these tough situations. Vancouver might not have the most famous shutdown unit in the league, but they certainly have one of the best.

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