by PuckStopsHere on 04/25/10 at 03:50 PM ET
If you had been reading media reports and not watching games, it would be easy to assume that this post is about Mike Green (Steve Simmons is one of his more high profile detractors). Mike Green has not been a superstar in the playoffs yet. In five games he has two points. He leads Washington in playing time and has been playing against tougher competition than he did in the regular season - largely due to the development of rookie John Carlson - who is taking so of the defensively easy minutes. Green has been a solid defenceman so far this playoff, but he has not been spectacular yet.
Duncan Keith is the likely Norris Trophy recipient. However, his playoff has been unsatisfactory so far. Keith has no points so far and has a team worst -5 +/- rating. Keith has the worst +/- rating among any player on a team leading in their first round series.
Mike Green is a subject of attack among many fans and media members because he is an offensive defenceman. He is the best offensive defenceman in the world. His defensive game is not up to his offensive level, but it is far better than many are willing to give him credit for. He is playing against a progressively tougher opposition and doing well. When Mike Green is on the ice, the opposition rarely scores and Washington often does. That is clearly a sign of success.
The problem that many people have is how can Mike Green be the best defenceman in hockey when he is not the best at defence (which seems to be important to being a defenceman). The problem is potentially solved by ranking defencemen on how many wins they produce for their team. Wins are produced by scoring and preventing scoring. Green is the best in the league at scoring. Even if he is not the best defensively - he is capable and it is possible that his offensive prowess makes him the defenceman worth the most wins in the league.
Mike Green is a far better defensive player than many are willing to give him credit for. Once he has the reputation of being poor defensively, it is a tough reputation to shed. This reputation has become progressively less a reflection of reality as time goes on, but it is firmly established in some people’s minds and it is hard to get them to watch games to re-assess their deeply held bias. In the playoffs so far, Mike Green has been a better defensive player than Duncan Keith. Keith has not had a strong playoff at all.
This example helps to show that media reports tend to be harder on certain players than others. Mike Green is not the traditional defenceman. He excels offensively. Historically, defencemen of this type have not been treated well by the media. There was a movement to give the Norris Trophy to anyone but Paul Coffey. When Coffey scored 126 points in 1983/84, the Norris Trophy was given to Rod Langway who had scored 33 points. While there is no question that Langway was better defensively than Coffey, it is hard to imagine that he made up 93 points with defensive differences.
I would give the Norris Trophy to Duncan Keith this season. He is almost as good offensively as Mike Green and plays in much tougher defensive situations. However, in the playoffs so far, Green has been better than Keith and yet most media members who have mentioned either of them are pointing out how Green is playing poorly.
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