Leafs Possession Numbers – Defence



Yesterday, we looked at the Leafs forwards results from the perspecitve of possession metrics. Today we continue that investigation, this time with an eye to the Leafs blueline.

Player Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT Ozone% Start Ozone% Finish Corsi Rel Corsi On 5v5 Tied Fenwick % Sh%
Aulie 1.119 1.379 43.9 51.3 -15.9 -21.52 0.389 938
Phaneuf 0.724 0.01 49.4 51.2 -1.5 -6.2 0.447 921
Beachemin 0.406 0.113 49.7 48.7 -0.9 -0.435 0.475 0.902
Schenn 0.392 0.732 49.3 50.9 1.5 -4.15 0.469 915
Kaberle 0.234 1.23 51.8 49.6 -1 -1.02 0.451 0.931
Gunnarsson 0.19 0.187 46.5 52.4 1.2 -4.78 0.423 917
Komisarek 0.05 0.43 41.6 45 -6.6 -9.68 0.401 912
Lebda -0.591 -1.356 56.1 48.2 4.4 -1.08 0.405 887

Again, several lessons emerge from these numbers:

• No one on the Leafs’ defence was particularly good at driving possession last year, though Beauchemin, Phaneuf and Schenn all performed acceptably given the relatively tough minutes they faced.

• Aulie faced ridiculously tough minutes for a rookie and not surprisingly, fared poorly. He was bailed out by Reimer’s incredible performance behind him and could benefit from a more sheltered role next year.

• Lebda and Komisarek had the easiest minutes on the team and performed atrociously.

• Kaberle’s performance was decidedly mediocre given the relatively easy minutes he enjoyed. Gunnarsson seems well positioned to replace him at even strength.

Turning to the newcomers, there is more reason for optimism:

Player Year Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT Ozone% Start Ozone% Finish Corsi Rel Corsi On 5v5 Tied Fenwick % Sh%
Liles 2010-11 0.484 (2) 0.361 (2) 55.6 (1) 50.8 (5) 7.1 (1) -1.49 (2) 0.481 (2) .898 (6)
  2009-10 -0.688 (6) 0.338 (6) 56.2 (1) 51.6 (2) 2.4 (3) -10.57 (3) 0.469 (3) .923 (6)
  2008-09 -0.054 (5) -0.668 (5) 52.4 (1) 49.6 (2) 6.4 (1) -2.47 (1) 0.450 (3) .899 (5)
Franson 2010-11 -0.637 (7) -0.870 (4) 50.3 (1) 47.0 (6) 5.5 (3) 2.45 (3) 0.529 (3) .943 (1)
  2009-10 -1.087 (7) 0.046 (4) 54.3 (1) 51.8 (2) 11.7 (1) 12.76 (1) 0.538 (1) .945 (1)

These players offer definite upgrades over what the Leafs finished the season with last year:

• Franson clearly played a third pair role with Nashville but knocked it out of the park in that role. He was a possession monster (though he benefited from stellar goaltending behind him, which is probably more attributable to the soft competition he faced than some particular ability to suppress opposing shooting percentages better than Shea Weber et al.).

• Liles is a bit of an enigma. Last year he performed relatively well in a first pair role. However, the preceding two years he performed worse with softer minutes. He probably belongs in a second pair role.

The bottom line for the Leafs defence is they do not have anyone who has proven he can handle a true "first pair" role of taking on the best the opposition can offer and thriving against it. Phaneuf is considered our closest thing to a "top pair" defender, but he enjoyed sheltered minutes while in Calgary and has had mixed defensive performances when thrust into that role in Toronto. However, some combination of Phaneuf, Liles, Gunnarsson and Schenn should be at least as good as Phaneuf, Beauchemin, Kaberle and Schenn were last year, and Aulie and Franson should represent a considerable upgrade over the nightmare of Komisarek and Lebda that we suffered through for so much of last season.

Overall, I think the best case scenario for the Leafs is to improve from being one of the worst five possession teams in the NHL last year, to falling somewhere in the 15-20 range. If they can combine that with above average goaltending from Reimer, it should be good enough to challenge for the last two playoff spots in the East.

  • I just now noticed there’s a link at the start of the article to the same analysis for forwards, where explanations of the methods are given… I was really thrown off by how this page didn’t even define possession, but the other page covers it. My bad! Carry on!

  • I have to be critical of this article.. it is extremely difficult to understand if you’re not really familiar with the advanced stats.

    I don’t always see which stats you use to make a judgement of a player, and can’t remember what they all mean… Which stat(s) are you basing your assertions on? What would make a guy “particularly good at driving possession”? Help the readers out a bit 🙂

    The Sh% switches between whole numbers and decimals, btw.. and it should be Sv%, no? Shooting percentages are around .100.

    (Lebda’s Corsi Rel QoT (quality of teammates) is very low. Does he get some sympathy for that?)

  • One thing I would certainly like to determine going forward is the degree to which defenders truly drive possession versus forwards. My hypothesis is that it’s the guys up front driving the bus most of the time, but that’s merely a guess lacking solid proof.