Who is getting the most offense from their blue line?

Cory Lavellette of Canes Country mentioned on Twitter this morning that the Hurricanes have three defensemen with at least seven goals (Harrison, Faulk & McBain) and 29 goals from their blue-line this year. That’s a pretty big surprise when you consider that their best offensive defenseman has been out for over half of the season, but it did get me thinking about where the Hurricanes rank in the NHL when it comes to the amount of offense they get from defensemen.

When you think of how much “offense” a team is getting, most will look at goals as a way to judge that. As most of you probably know by now, there is a lot of luck involved with scoring goals and that is especially true when it comes to defensemen, so we have to look at more data here. For this study, I went to Behind the Net Hockey’s shot data page and looked at how many even strength goals, shots on goal and missed shots each team’s defense had. I also included their average shooting distance and shooting percentage for good measure. I’m going to do this with only five-on-five data for now to weed out some of the noise that special teams create, but I will include some powerplay data along with it.

After the jump, we will take a look at how much offense the Hurricanes defensemen are really supplying and where they rank in the NHL.

Here is every team’s defense corps’ accumulated shot data courtesy of Behind The Net.

Teams Goals Saved Missed Total Dist. Sh% Save Sh%
Detroit 27 486 208 721 52.2 3.7% 5.3%
Ottawa 22 351 154 527 52 4.2% 5.9%
New York 21 295 143 459 47.9 4.6% 6.6%
Columbus 21 422 200 643 52.9 3.3% 4.7%
Nashville 20 389 175 584 49 3.4% 4.9%
Phoenix 20 472 248 740 51.5 2.7% 4.1%
St. Louis 17 346 166 529 48.9 3.2% 4.7%
Anaheim 17 303 170 490 52.01 3.5% 5.3%
Tampa Bay 17 300 155 472 52.6 3.6% 5.4%
Vancouver 17 400 217 634 52.9 2.7% 4.1%
Buffalo 17 308 147 472 53.63 3.6% 5.2%
Boston 16 554 231 801 56.27 2.0% 2.8%
Toronto 15 377 204 596 50.6 2.5% 3.8%
Los Angeles 15 302 169 486 53.3 3.1% 4.7%
Carolina 15 304 188 507 54.3 3.0% 4.7%
Washington 15 329 163 507 55.2 3.0% 4.4%
Chicago 14 412 206 632 50.6 2.2% 3.3%
Florida 14 340 173 527 54.2 2.7% 4.0%
San Jose 13 482 207 702 51.6 1.9% 2.6%
Colorado 13 342 152 507 52.2 2.6% 3.7%
Edmonton 13 255 137 405 52.7 3.2% 4.9%
Winnipeg 13 347 206 566 55.2 2.3% 3.6%
Dallas 13 351 188 552 57.3 2.4% 3.6%
Calgary 12 270 150 432 52.9 2.8% 4.3%
Philadelphia 12 399 174 585 54.6 2.1% 2.9%
Pittsburgh 11 385 193 589 49.9 1.9% 2.8%
Montreal 11 292 140 443 53 2.5% 3.6%
New Jersey 7 306 123 436 52.2 1.6% 2.2%
Minnesota 6 243 130 379 53.1 1.6% 2.4%
Long Island 6 371 188 565 55.2 1.1% 1.6%

Dist. = average shot distance, sh% = shooting percentage including missed shots, Save Sh% = save percentage of only shots on goal.

  • The Red Wings’ blue line is producing the most goals and they are also firing a ton of shots at the net. Nick Kronwall leads the team with seven even strength goals but the guys getting the most shots off are Ian White and Nicklas Lidstrom. The addition of Kyle Quincey makes their blue line even more dangerous offensively as he was one of Colorado’s best defenseman at getting the puck to the net.
  • The Bruins lead the league in even strength shots attempted by defensemen with 801 (!), but they aren’t translating to a lot of goals. You can see that the B’s defensemen are having some horrible luck with shooting percentages and I have a tough time believing that it will stay that way if they keep getting this many shots off. Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Joe Corvo are all in the top 30 in the NHL in shots attempted by blue-liners. Andrew Ference is in the top 50, as well. However, when you look at their data you can tell that there might be other reasons for their horrible shooting percentage than just bad luck. The B’s trail only the Phoenix Coyotes in missed shots and only Dallas shoots the puck from a further distance than them. That’s definitely part of the problem.
  • If you want to see a defense corps with horrible luck, just look at the Islanders. Yeesh! They are actually in the top half of the league in shots on goal but are shooting at an abysmal 1.6% which can’t sustain over time but their defense corps doesn’t have too many offensive studs outside of Mark Streit. He isn’t even leading the team in shots attempt. That would be Milan Jurcina, who hasn’t scored at even strength once this year despite having 83 EV shots on goal and 96 attempts. San Jose and Chicago’s defense corps are also suffering from some terrible shooting percentages right now.
  • The New York Rangers lead the NHL in shooting percentage by defensemen in both categories as most of their even strength shots seem to be going in no matter whose stick they come off of. They actually rank in the bottom-10 in shots on goal and shots attempted so you have to wonder how much longer the dice will keep rolling in their favor. You will also notice that their defensemen take shots from closer range than anyone else in the league, which could be a sign that they know when to pinch. Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto have shown this. Speaking of MDZ, he leads in all regular defensemen in shooting percentage and ranks third on his team in shot attempts. Regression. It’s coming.
  • Erik Karlsson has 13 even strength goals this year, meaning he has more goals than seven different NHL teams. That’s pretty crazy and it’s not just shooting percentage that’s driving this. He leads all NHL defensemen in shots attempted and shots on goal. Karlsson’s on pace to have a Mike Green circa 2008-09-like season.
  • Keith Yandle, Adrian Aucoin and Oliver Ekman-Larsson have more combined even strength shot attempts than the Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers.
  • You can see why the Devils made the move for Marek Zidlicky. They are the fourth worst team in the league at getting offense from their blue-line when it comes to shot attempts and really needed a puck-mover. Mark Fayne leads their team in even strength goals and shot attempts with three goals and 84 shots respectively. That’s pretty horrendous.
  • The Penguins leader in even-strength shot attempts? Deryk Engelland. That surprised me a lot.

Moving onto the Hurricanes, they rank around the bottom-10 at creating shots and don’t have one defenseman with 100 shot attempts. The closest one is Jay Harrison, who has 98 and leads the team with six even strength shots on goal. His offense is a welcomed addition but he’s shooting at a pretty high percentage right now and it’s unlikely that it will keep up the entire year. Here’s a closer look at the team’s defense corps and how much offense they are providing.

Player Goals Saved Missed Total Avg. Dist Sh% Save Sh%
Harrison 6 57 35 98 54.2 6.1 9.5%
Allen 1 59 38 98 63.5 1.1 1.7%
McBain 2 47 32 81 49.4 2.5 4.1%
Gleason 1 43 24 68 54.8 1.5 2.3%
Faulk 2 35 18 55 53 3.6 5.4%
Spacek 1 25 14 40 53.3 2.5 3.8%
Pitkanen 2 19 14 35 53.7 5.7 9.5%
Joslin 1 19 13 33 52.1 3 5.0%
  • Every single defenseman has scored a goal at even strength this year, which is a pretty cool stat to throw around on trivia night. Harrison is leading the pack by a mile, though. Five of Faulk’s goals and four of McBain’s came on the powerplay.
  • Bryan Allen is getting a lot of shots on net, but most of them are from way too far away to be considered anything dangerous.
  • McBain is the opposite as he is more likely to pinch than any other defenseman on the team and it’s resulted in a considerable amount of success for him on the powerplay. This style of play has gotten him into trouble quite a few times when playing five-on-five.
  • Faulk’s shot totals are lower than I hoped they would be, but I assume that it’s lower because he spent a month in Charlotte.
  • It’ll be interesting to see Pitkanen’s play when he returns. This suggests that he was missing the net a ton.
  • Carolina’s top seven players in shots on goal and shots attempted are all forwards and it’s easy to tell here because of how low some of our defenseman’s shot totals are.

Getting shots on goal is important, but shot location is also important because a one-timer from the face-off circle is a lot more difficult to start than a wrister from the blue-line. The Bruins and Rangers seem to be finding that out in both negative and positive ways.

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