Kings-Ducks Series Preview: Looking at the Ducks Defensemen

Luca Sbisa, aka "no, really, I was traded for Chris Pronger once." - Ronald Martinez

In Part 1 of our two-part series, we looked at the forwards for the Ducks in several different metrics. We'll turn our attention to the defensemen now, then draw some conclusions.

This is Part 2 of a story looking at the possession metrics of the Anaheim Ducks, breaking it down by individual players. In Part 1 we covered the forwards, so this time we're covering the defensemen. If you're looking for more information on what all of these stats actually mean, I broke it all down in the intro to Part 1. Let's get right into it!

Defensemen

(Oh boy, the fun part! Trying to figure out what Anaheim's defensive pairings actually are, or even who the healthy scratch will be, is apparently impossible at this point; while the forward lines were reported from line rushes in practice, there was nothing reported on their defensive pairings. We'll just list all seven defensemen in a random order, but expect Fowler-Lovejoy, either Sbisa-Beauchemin or Lindholm-Beauchemin, and then either Allen or Fistric with whoever didn't pair up with Beauchemin.)

Fowler and Lovejoy


GP CORSI CORSI REL FENWICK FENWICK REL PDO ZS%
Cam Fowler 70 48.8% -1.8% 49.8% . -1.4% 101.2 49.5%
Ben Lovejoy 78 48.0% -2.8% 49.5% -1.2% 102.2 48.6%

As you probably well know, #CamSucks. He starts a little more in the defensive zone than the offensive zone, but he's still below 50% in both possession stats, and the team is better with him off the ice than they are with him on. The Kings should run him over at evens. Ben Lovejoy's got worse Corsi numbers and slightly better Fenwick rel with tougher zone starts, but still, not good or anything. Please let this pairing continue to be a thing.

Sbisa and Beauchemin


GP CORSI CORSI REL FENWICK FENWICK REL PDO ZS%
Luca Sbisa 30 49.9% 1.3% 48.0% -0.8% 98.1 52.1%
Francois Beauchemin 70 48.5% -2.9% 48.2% -3.8% 106.6 50.6%

Woof, things didn't get much better here either, huh? Sbisa missed almost two-thirds of the season, and as such, is maybe the only regular Anaheim skater who got unlucky. His Corsi rel is actually positive despite being .1% off of 50, indicating the rest of the team actually played worse than usual when he played, while his Fenwick rel is still negative. Those two numbers both come despite softer zone starts than everyone else on the Anaheim blue line (except for Lindholm and a guy not playing anymore), so yeah, not good.

Beauchemin, on the other hand, had about average zone starts (more sheltered than Fowler or Lovejoy) and was even worse than both of them in Corsi and Fenwick rel, significantly worse in Fenwick rel in fact. About the only thing he did well was getting lucky (raise your hand if you're surprised). This blue line is bad, folks.

Bottom Pairing


GP CORSI CORSI REL FENWICK FENWICK REL PDO ZS%
Hampus Lindholm 78 50.2% 0.9% 50.5% 0.5% 108 52.9%
Bryan Allen 68 50.1% 0.7% 51.6% 0.2% 101.8 49.4%
Mark Fistric 34 50.0% 4.9% 51.5% 5.9% 102.2 50.6%

Anaheim's strength may actually come in their bottom pairing guys, oddly enough. Lindholm spent a lot of time during the regular season with Beauchemin, but Sbisa took that spot often in the Dallas series even before Lindholm's injury, and may stay there even after Hampus returns to the lineup (which could happen as soon as Game 1).

Both players played similar minutes, with Lindholm getting slightly more sheltered zone starts. Sbisa had a slightly higher Corsi rel but Lindholm had a slightly higher Fenwick rel, so I guess in the end it's kind of a wash. Bryan Allen put up slightly above-average numbers while starting more of his shifts in the defensive zone, so that's nice I guess. Certainly he had a better season than most of the Ducks' top 4.

Meanwhile, Mark Fistric only appeared in 34 games and is probably the leading candidate to be healthy scratched, but when he was in the lineup for the Ducks he was significantly better than the rest of his team in puck possession (who apparently got shelled; LOL at 50% Corsi being a +4.9% Corsi rel). He was slightly sheltered but not nearly as much as Lindholm.

The Missing Robidas

Just for fun, let's take a look at what the Ducks are missing with Stephane Robidas, their key trade deadline acquisition from (ironically enough) Dallas, injured and out for the rest of the playoffs.


GP CORSI CORSI REL FENWICK FENWICK REL PDO ZS%
Stephane Robidas 14 52.3% 3.5% 51.9% 3.7% 102.7 53.6%

I guess you could say the Ducks finally got unlucky. Robidas was easily their best defenseman (his raw Corsi & Fenwick numbers were higher than Fistric's even though Fistric actually had higher relative ratings) after coming over in that aforementioned trade, albeit in a relatively small sample size and with more sheltered zone starts. Still, he played those minutes and pretty much killed them relative to the rest of Anaheim's defensemen. It wasn't really a fluke, either; if you expand his season to including an addition 24 games with Dallas, he still posts decent-to-good numbers (54.7% Corsi, +0.9% Corsi rel, 51.2% Fenwick, +0.8% Fenwick rel).

Conclusions

So that's the Anaheim Ducks, folks, more specifically their play in the 2013-14 regular season when the score was close. What can we take away from this? Well:

  • Their top-end forwards are OK possession-wise, but certainly not great.
  • Their depth forwards are mostly pretty bad, and the coaching staff has guys playing tough minutes zone start-wise that clearly can't handle it (see: Koivu and Cogliano specifically).
  • Their blue line is a complete mess. Their top 4 is pretty much garbage and the Kings should have no trouble running it over. Their depth defensemen are a little better. If they still had Robidas they still wouldn't come close to matching up with LA's defense corps, but it certainly would have helped close the gap a little. Overall, this is probably the biggest edge for LA, unless Quick continues playing out of his mind of course.
  • Holy crap, was everyone on this team lucky.

The Ducks are not a good puck possession team. They are quite average up front, and not even that on their blue line. The Kings should have no trouble racking up shot attempts, and if they can avoid letting the PDucksO cash in on their almost-certain-to-be-fewer attempts, they should have no trouble winning this series. Maybe even relatively quickly.

Go Kings.

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