By The Numbers: Measuring The Winnipeg Jets' Effectiveness - Defensive Pairings

Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Statistics indicate that Mark Stuart is not an effective defenseman.

Continuing from Truck's analysis series, let's look at how the Winnipeg Jets' defensive players worked as a unit in their pairings. The theory behind this process is: if you earn more chances to score, you are likely to outscore your opponent; if you outscore your opponent, you are likely to win.

Instead of using shots, I have elected to use Corsi which just gives a slightly larger sample size. Instead of using Corsi and goals for/against, I have elected to use them as percentages to better show the ratio. So, 0.500 means that the events occurred equally for both the Jets and their opposition. Larger than 0.500 means that the chances or goal differentials were in the Jets' favour.

For your own fun and interest, I have placed all the defensemen that have played with our top4 unit even though some of the sample sizes are incredibly small. Although I have not done any evaluations to back up my arbitrary TOI numbers, my hypothesis is that ~100+ minutes is large enough sample size for the CF% to diminish chance and luck. It is true that, given enough time and consistent goaltending ability, GF% should eventually equate to CF%.

All numbers are for even strength and from http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com. Keep in mind that coach Claude Noel likes to split the tough competition between the top two pairings but gives more offensive zone starts to the first pairing and more defensive zone starts to the second pairing.

First Pairing

Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom were the only Winnipeg Jets to predominately play on the first pairing, but we'll also review how they played with other partners .

2011-12 Byfuglien with:

Partner

TOI

CF%

GF%

+/-

Enstrom

724

0.558

0.522

+3

Oduya

210

0.524

0.571

+2

Stuart

159

0.489

0.211

-11

Bogosian

41

0.532

0.500

+0

Jones

31

0.339

0.000

-3

Hainsey

27

0.298

0.667

+2

Flood

26

0.533

0.763

+1

Enstrom being Byfuglien’s best partner Corsi-wise isn’t a huge shock, but some may be surprised that playing with Stuart almost single-handedly caused Byfuglien’s negative +/-, despite only contributing to 13% of Byfuglien’s even strength icetime.

2011-12 Enstrom with:

Partner

TOI

CF%

GF%

+/-

Byfuglien

724

0.558

0.522

+3

Hainsey

241

0.527

0.429

-3

Bogosian

97

0.556

0.667

+3

Oduya

19

0.467

0.000

-1

Jones

11

0.438

0.500

+0

Stuart

11

0.286

-

+0

Flood

9

0.360

-

+0

Clitsome

4

0.545

1.000

+1

Meech

0.5

1.000

1.000

+1

Again, there is no surprise that Byfuglien and Enstrom were our strongest offensive pair. Many have debated that Bogosian is the better partner for Enstrom, and this is a valid opinion. But it should be noted that even the great Tobias Enstrom can’t make Randy Jones, Mark Stuart or Mark Flood palpable NHL defensemen.

Second Pairing

The second pairing predominately consisted the foursome of Zach Bogosian, Ron Hainsey, Mark Stuart, and Johnny Oduya. In this analysis, I will concentrate on the two defensemen Claude Noel and Kevin Cheveldayoff seem to rely upon most frequently.

2011-12 Bogosian with:

Partner

TOI

CF%

GF%

+/-

Stuart

369

0.466

0.433

-4

Hainsey

272

0.496

0.609

+5

Oduya

247

0.499

0.222

-10

Enstrom*

97

0.556

0.667

+3

Byfuglien*

41

0.532

0.500

+0

Flood

19

0.536

1.000

+1

Clitsome

15

0.355

0.000

-1

Jones

11

0.217

0.000

-1

Kulda

3

0.583

1.000

+1

*Bogosian’s usage is missing here unfortunately. He often replaced either Enstrom or Byfuglien due to injury, and as such, received a large boost in offensive opportunities and offensive zone starts.

It’s interesting seeing the dichotomy in the results for the shutdown second pairing. The Hainsey-Bogosian pairing was much superior to Stuart-Bogosian as it pertained to tough competition. Oduya may have been just as good or even a better option than Hainsey, but the goal differential is a tad worrisome.

2011-12 Hainsey with:

Partner

TOI

CF%

GF%

+/-

Bogosian

272

0.496

0.609

+5

Enstrom

241

0.527

0.429

-3

Oduya

228

0.463

0.571

+2

Clitsome

83

0.436

0.400

-1

Stuart

62

0.427

1.000

+1

Flood

31

0.446

0.000

-1

Byfuglien

27

0.298

0.667

+2

Jones

21

0.553

0.667

+1

The Hainsey-Bogosian unit appeared to be Claude Noel's best option. It is an extremely small sample size, but Big Buff does not seem to work well with Hainsey. Many people have screamed for Bogosian to be paired with Enstrom, but with our current top-four structure, placing together Hainsey and Byfuglien against tough competition seems a receipe for disaster.

Of Note:

  • Noel seemed correct in his decision to structure the Jets' top-four by pairing Enstrom with Byfuglien and Hainsey with Bogosian
  • It will be interesting to see if the second pairing will improve with Bogosian post-surgery and having a much improved defensive forward line of Ponikarovsky-Wellwood/Burmistrov-Antropov over GST.
  • Unfortunately it appears that the Jets' top-four cannot withstand injury, as neither Grant Clitsome or Mark Stuart seem unable competently play tough minutes.
  • Shot blocker Mark Stuart should not ever be placed into the Jets' top-four again. This does not bode well if Hainsey leaves at the end of his contract.
  • Three minutes isn't sufficient sample value, but I dearly hope we don't lose Kulda for nothing, as he could become that future tough minute defensemen the Jets are lacking on the left side.

Which numbers impress you or disappoint you the most? Does anything else stand out to you? Or is there anything that I may have been overlooked? Please let us know in the comments section.

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