Robyn Regehr Corsi, 2008-2014
|Team||GP||Corsi Relative||Corsi On||Expected Corsi||dCorsi|
I think good defensive defenseman can and do exist. There are some players out there who rarely score at even strength and never get time on the power play but are nonetheless useful. These guys push the play forward and ensure that their team gets the majority of the shots and goals - even if that player is personally taking few of those shots and recording points on few of those goals. Matt Greene is a good example.
But Regehr is not that player. When he was on the ice last year, the Kings attempted shot attempts and goals at a lower rate than when any other Kings defenseman was on the ice. Furthermore, in that situation the Kings conceded shots and goals at the highest rate of any Kings defenseman. Combine a fairly high number of shots against and an inability to generate shots and you get the worst Corsi of any regular on the team (53.5%). His two partners on the year, Doughty and Voynov, both did much better away from than with him (54.7% with/59.3% without for Doughty, 53.0% with/57.7% without for Voynov).
That all sounds, and is, bad. But I know the immediate objection will be that Regehr plays tough minutes. Isn't a lot of shots against and few attempts for to be expected, if a player is starting in his own zone against the opposition's best?
I'll respond to that in two ways. First, I want to assess how tough Regehr's minutes actually are. Second, I'll compare Regehr's performance to players on other teams who are deployed similarly.
Regehr does not actually match against the opposition's top players. His quality of competition is third among LA defensemen, behind Doughty and Muzzin. Regehr did play the top competition when paired with Doughty at the beginning of the year. When Regehr got demoted to the second pair, he no longer took on the top competition (Doughty/Muzzin did). Quality of competition can't possibly explain Regehr's Corsi struggles.
Regehr did have difficult zone starts all year long. His -4.7% zone start relative was the lowest on the Kings; compared to other players, Regehr was starting a few less shifts in the offensive zone and a few more in the defensive zone.
But Regehr's zone starts were not extreme. -4.7% relative means that, despite being the toughest on his team, Regehr's zone starts were not that far from the average King. Regehr still started more 32 shifts in the offensive zone (33.6%) than in the defensive zone (30.6%) this year. If Regehr had Matt Greene's softer zone starts (+2.8% ZS rel), Regehr would convert roughly 35 offensive zone starts to defensive zone starts over the whole year. Over an 82-game season, I seriously doubt that makes a huge difference.
If that doesn't convince you, let's take a look at how Regehr has done relative to other players who received similar deployment. Here's a list of all defensemen with a ZS relative within 1% of Regehr (-3.7% to -5.7%), and how they did by Corsi relative:
Defensemen Deployed Like Robyn Regehr, 2014
|Player||Corsi Relative||ZS Relative|
Regehr does the worst of all 21 defensemen listed. (The impact of overall team quality on Corsi relative is pretty small, so Regehr's good team doesn't put him at a big disadvantage.) I will concede that if the allowed ZS relative threshold was expanded by .1%, it would include Andrew MacDonald (-8.1% Corsi relative, -3.6% ZS relative). So I guess Regehr supporters could say "I told you so! He's better than Andrew MacDonald!" But that's not a great argument.
The point of this table is that Regehr's minutes are not that extreme, and it's perfectly possible to receive such deployment and come out ahead, or at least even with the team. Regehr, in fact, does abnormally poorly given his minutes.
And that's the thing about tough minutes; there's no virtue in just playing them. To truly help the team, a player has to do well in them. Regehr does not.
If you think this analysis using Corsi% evaluates Regehr unfairly, bear in mind that he did much worse in goals (47.7%) than in shot attempts (53.5%). That's probably bad luck and not really Regehr's fault, but it is a little bit of evidence against the idea that he can somehow do better than his Corsi suggests.
One final note on Regehr's penalty killing. He does spend a lot of time on the PK, but I can find little evidence that he's good at it. He does the worst out of all Kings defensemen in terms of shots and is average in terms of goals against. He put up similarly uninspiring 4v5 results in Buffalo.
This article probably comes across as hostile, as all statistical breakdowns of Robyn Regehr inevitably will, but I actually enjoy Regehr's personality. He seems like a good teammate. His enthusiasm and bizarrely unblinking eyes are both pretty great in this video (Regehr enters at the 2:07 mark).
Regehr is 34. Like all NHL players of that age, he can only be expected to decline as time passes. The Kings have him signed for only the 2014-15 season, which he will probably spend on the second pairing with Slava Voynov. Youngster Brayden McNabb will challenge Regehr for that spot. McNabb is very much an unknown quantity at this point. If he can be an average second pairing defenseman, that would be an upgrade.
Maybe Robyn Regehr's brand of physical defense was effective five years ago, but it isn't now. His presence causes the Kings to have the puck less, score fewer goals, and concede more. That makes them less likely to win. D.