Bryan Allen’s role reduction

Bryan Allen has arguably been the Hurricanes’ best defenseman in this very forgettable season. He’s played 18-20 minutes a night, is usually given the toughest assignments and has posted a 4.5 Corsi Rel. rating, which is the best among defensemen. Not only that, but he has been outperforming the entire defense corps when it comes to creating and preventing scoring chances. Despite his great play, Allen’s seen his role decrease by a lot over the past few weeks. Was Kirk Muller the reason for this? We’ll find out after the jump.

Time on ice and head-to-head reports are something that I always keep a close eye on when I do my scoring chance reports and I can’t help but notice how little minutes Allen has been playing in the six games since Muller took over. Check out the table below for an illustration.

Allen during Muller’s six games

Opp EV TOI SC Diff Corsi Diff Znet Forwards Faced
FLA 18.2 3 21 -3 Campbell Versteeg Fleischmann
NYR 11.65 -3 -12 0 Mitchell Boyle Hagelin
PIT 12.5 -1 0 1 Martin Bortuzzo Orpik
CGY 12.65 0 -1 -3 Butler Tanguay Bouwmeester
EDM 13.46 7 8 0 Sutton Hemsky Horcoff
WPG 14.06 -3 4 -1 Jones Bogosian Kane

Znet = amount of shifts started in the offensive zone compared to defensive zone.

Allen was in his “regular” role on the shutdown pair with Tim Gleason against Florida, played a terrific game but saw his ice time go down dramatically after that. In the five games after that, he was placed on the third pairing with Derek Joslin and Muller either matched him up with second-tier competition (NYR) or didn’t put him up against anyone in particular. He’s also been getting easier zone starts compared to his normal workload this year.

Is his performance the problem? His only really bad performance was against the Rangers where he was on ice for four total goals against. He also struggled against Pittsburgh and Winnipeg but aside from those three games, he hasn’t been overwhelmingly bad in the Muller era. He hasn’t been nearly as good as he was for most of the season but I’m not sure what motivated Muller to demote him so quickly. Things become even more confusing when you see how his replacements on the shutdown pair have performed. 

Opp Replacement EV TOI SC Diff Corsi Diff Znet
NYR Faulk 18.2 1 16 4
PIT Faulk 18.9 -5 -17 -2
CGY Faulk 18.25 -4 3 1
EDM McBain 18.016 0 -1 -5
WPG McBain 20.116 -10 -15 -4

Justin Faulk was playing in Allen’s spot with Gleason on the shutdown pair for three games under Muller and was only able to outchance his opponent’s once. Although, that pairing was receiving a lot more offensive zone starts than normal in the Ranger game so that’s an odd stat. Faulk is another player who has seen his role change under Muller as he played with the newly acquired Jaroslav Spacek in a more offensive role against Edmonton and Jamie McBain took over in his place. McBain had a solid game against the Oilers when you factor in the zone starts but a horrible game against the Jets.

My initial thought is that this was all Muller’s doing but one thing I noticed is that Allen’s minutes were being reduced under Maurice, as well.

Opp EV TOI SC Diff Corsi Diff Znet Forwards Faced
BUF 15.2 6 12 0 Pominville Roy Vanek
TOR 20.95 7 24 -2 Phaneuf Liles Connolly
PHI 17.93 -2 -6 1 Carle Mezsaros Marshall
MTL 14.76 3 2 -6 Gorges Subban Cole
WPG 15.9 1 -6 -1 Little Kane Wheeler
OTT 9.35 3 4 2 Karlsson Phillips Spezza

It was in the Montreal game when Allen began to see a decline in minutes but he was still used in important situations and the same goes for the Jets game. His minutes look reduced in the Ottawa game because of the nine powerplays Carolina had but he was slightly protected in terms of zone starts. So, we can conclude that Maurice was reducing his time on ice a little but his role stayed the same.

Allen’s been on ice for more goals lately but that was bound to happen soon because his PDO was well over 1000 due to a high on-ice save percentage which was not going to sustain with how the Canes goaltending has been. The important thing is that Allen has been a +20 in corsi under Muller, has a +3 scoring chance differential and is still outperforming most of the defense. Unless Allen is nursing an injury, I don’t see much of a reason to keep him from playing tough minutes while McBain and Justin Faulk are getting plowed in the same role.