by PuckStopsHere on 07/30/14 at 03:15 PM ET
I continue my summer sabermetrics and hockey series by looking at defensive zone starts. This is the opposite of offensive zone starts. These are players who are on the ice for more defensive zone faceoffs than offensive ones. These players are chosen by their teams to play tough defensive roles. They are often the unsung hero of their team who does the dirty work with little recognition. Some of these players should be Selke Trophy candidates. The context of excess defensive zone starts is useful to make Corsi into a more individualized ranking as it helps to show which players play a more defensive role on their team and will thus suffer in terms of their puck possession.
Here are the top 20 players in the 2013/14 season by excess defensive zone starts:
|7||Brian Boyle||NY Rangers||294|
|15||Dominic Moore||NY Rangers||213|
Boyd Gordon of Edmonton clearly leads the league in excess defensive zone starts. He does so by a large margin of over 125 starts. After him comes a natural grouping of six players. The Chicago Blackhawks despite being a top team have two in this group in Marcus Kruger and Brandon Bollig (they have a third on the list in Ben Smith at 10th place). The only team with more players on this list than the Blackhawks is the Toronto Maple Leafs with four. Toronto is a team that had many more defensive zone starts on the team level so this might be expected. The fact that so many Blackhawks are on this list shows an interesting tactical decision. The Hawks make an effort to get their best offensive players offensive zone starts and hence there must be a defensive crew that takes the defensive draws. These are more unsung Hawk players. Perhaps the best player on this list comes at the end in Shea Weber - who was a Norris Trophy nominee.
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