A look at the defensive pairings of the Winnipeg Jets

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

A few of the regulars here have been lobbying to put Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom back together. The upside to that is obvious: the two have a long history of combined awesomeness. But the downside worries me: It would likely leave Zach Bogosian and Grant Clitsome as our second pairing. Is the tradeoff worth it? Of course there are other options - most involve Jacob Trouba who's seen some time on the top 4.

I thought it would be interesting to go through the with-you-without-you (WOWY) numbers for each of the 5 defensemen who've seen time on the Winnipeg Jets top 4. Data is from Stats.HockeyAnalysis

Here's the Corsi % (zone adjusted) for every defensive pairing used. The number of minutes together is shown in brackets. The center diagonal shows the total corsi % for that player (all possible pairings).

Buff Toby Bogo Clitsome Trouba
Buff 56.9 (164) 55.6 (89) 61.5 (57)
Toby 55.6 (89) 55.4 (152) 54.6 (57)
Bogo 54.6 (57) 52.4 (163) 42.0 (27) 54.0 (63)
Clitsome 61.5 (57) 42.0 (27) 54.0 (98)
Trouba 54.0 (63) 46.9 (101)

Conclusions? Here's what stands out for me.

  • Based on Corsi, Dustin Byfuglien and Grant Clitsome have been our best paring.
  • To no one's surprise, Buff and Toby Enstrom have been very effective together.
  • There's not much of a drop off for Enstrom when he's with Zach Bogosian compared to Byfuglien.
  • Clitsome and Bogosian have been awful together although albeit in very limited minutes.
  • Jacob Trouba is a bit of a wild card here. His numbers with Bogosian have been surprisingly good. His numbers overall have been pretty awful. However, that could be the impact of playing with the Jets worst defenseman this year, Mark Stuart.

A few words of caution here. First, Corsi's great for broad brush strokes but I'd caution against reading too much into the numbers. Second, the numbers don't factor in context. We don't know who the other 8 skaters on the ice were. Third, it's been 15 games. Perhaps it's too early to tell.

My take is that the current pairings are working well. Dustin Byfuglien seems capable of turning Grant Clitsome into a top 2 defenseman. Why mess with that?

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