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The Puck Stops Here

Norris Trophy Candidate Has Slow Playoffs

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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Comments

cs6687's avatar

Carlson is going to be a good one. Green just sucks so much defensively.

Posted by cs6687 on 04/25/10 at 03:12 PM ET

german_wing's avatar

good job!

like the “defending” of green here ... when complaining about green’s supposed defensive shortcomings, ppl tend to forget that he nevertheless plays the back end. so there’s more defense on default than any forward provides. whatever wink

of the norris candidates, i think that doughty played best. shame his second season might not last that long, though.

Posted by german_wing from Toronto, Canada on 04/25/10 at 03:40 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

He is playing against a progressively tougher opposition and doing well.

look him up on behindthenet.ca

his quality of opposition is essentially ZERO.

Green is the best in the league at scoring.

as you said, he is playing against better opposition in the playoffs.  and his point production has dried up.  what does this say about his offensive skills?  that he can score well when playing against lower quality opponents, but not against better players.  so how does this mitigate his suspect defensive skills?

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

how is a +1 with 2 points “worth wins?”

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/25/10 at 04:01 PM ET

german_wing's avatar

Green just sucks so much defensively

nah, wouldn’t say that. when under pressure (which philly WILL apply), he tends to make bad decisions. he needs some maturity there, some experience to step up when it matters most. some players have that gift and don’t really have to learn to do that. it comes naturally with them. if it doesn’t, you have to learn that, have to grow up as a player. i think green could become more than a marc-andre bergeron or mathieu schneider. certainly no bobby orr or nick lidstrom, that’s for sure. but i don’t think his all-around abilities as a defender are so much worse than keith’s or doughty’s. time will tell!

Posted by german_wing from Toronto, Canada on 04/25/10 at 04:01 PM ET

Avatar

@PaulinMiamiBeach: QualComp and QualTeam are based on +/-. The Habs are the worst ES team in the NHL, the Caps the best. So any Caps’ QualComp will look bad, so far that is. Only two Habs are even, only two are better. Ouch.
I don’t think he fades under forechecking pressure either (you want that, see Tom Poti). The Caps as a team I think have bad puck clearing support from the forwards, who probably should come a bit deeper into the defensive zone, so they have trouble clearing. But Green rarely loses a 1-on-1 along the boards, mainly because he gets there a moment before anyone else.
Green is light years better than Bergeron any way you look at it, even now. Carlson looks like he has a slightly higher ceiling but Green looks like a Scott Niedermayer, and from what I’ve read, is very similar to the young SN.

Posted by Anonymous on 04/25/10 at 04:32 PM ET

german_wing's avatar

even though it never hurts to have a good defensive defenseman on your team, i think you’re dead right there: the caps’ defensive problems aren’t there just because “the defense sucks”, but because there’s not enough backchecking by the forwards. some more of that and the addition of someone like hejda would work miracles.

Posted by german_wing from Toronto, Canada on 04/25/10 at 05:01 PM ET

Avatar

Green is terrible at d. He is a forward playing d. Federov was better at D then this guy. I can’t believe he is up for this award. Shea Weber is more deserving this guy. If Green wins it’ll be a disgrace to the trophy.

Posted by ME on 04/25/10 at 06:07 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Paul

A sample size of five games doesn’t show you much other than statistical fluctuations.  Do you believe Duncan Keith is way over his head as a first line defenceman (clearly not as good as Mike Green).  If you use the sample of five games the playoffs have provided and nothing else, that conclusion is obvious.

The fact that people are so intent to bash Mike Green that they have overlooked the point that Duncan Keith is the Norris candidate with a poor start to the playoffs and bash Green anyway shows that most of this is a preconcieved notion that people are holding onto despite any facts.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 04/25/10 at 06:12 PM ET

Avatar

This is one of the worst articles I’ve ever read.

Posted by Jonesy44 from Toronto on 04/26/10 at 01:27 AM ET

Avatar

@paulinmiamibeach:

“how is a +1 with 2 points “worth wins?” one goal 5-on-5 and one goal on the powerplay in a 2-0 game, or 2 assists in a 2-1 game, or… :p

Anyhow, I’ve been watchin as much play off games I can see, and so far, Green is playing just fine defensively… Mostly because of his speed, but as a defenseman that jumps up in the play, speed is necesarry to hustle back after a turnover…

Posted by fish from Antwerp Belgium on 04/26/10 at 08:20 AM ET

Steve Strowbridge's avatar

Duncan Keith is the likely Norris Trophy recipient.

YOU BELIEVE Duncan Keith is the likely Norris Trophy recipient. You posted a link to an article YOU wrote. The way you write portrays opinions as facts and I guarantee there is a difference.

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John's, NL, CA on 04/26/10 at 12:40 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

A sample size of five games doesn’t show you much other than statistical fluctuations. 

so, as usual, that sample size is OK for YOU to make conclusions, but as soon as data in that sample size doesn’t fit what you agree with, it’s too small a sample size.

it is unfortunate that this picking and choosing is so common on this blog.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/26/10 at 07:48 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Paul

Which conclusion do you figure I made with this sample size?  Or is your rant a misplaced lie?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 04/27/10 at 01:59 PM ET

TeamDub's avatar

This post is just shy of elite.

It was close, TPSH, but you just haven’t been blogging in enough shorthanded situations.

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 04/27/10 at 02:28 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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