Monday, April 10, 2006


D-manding Ramblings

Unlike the MVP (Hart) and Vezina Trophies, the Norris Trophy is pretty much already decided. If the writers haven't already given their 1st place vote to Nicklas Lidstrom, they are either Toronto-centric homers, or just plain nuts.

Looking at the stats, here are some thoughts that came into my foggy head (

Nicklas Lidstrom - The only defenseman in the top 30 in scoring (76GP 14-61-75)PTS, you know Lidstrom has the Norris Trophy in the proverbial bag.
I know we shouldn't be amazed that Lidstrom is so good, but I am quite surprised at just how productive he is. Before the lockout, he had a 38-point season and seemed on the road to an offensive decline. He turns 36 in 2 weeks, so it wasn't too surprising.

Thanks to the "Power Play Effect", Lidstrom has seen his PP production increase from 21 to 49 points this season. One thing I also notice is that Lidstrom is shooting the puck a lot. He's second only to Rob Blake with 229 SOG, and his shot total is 30-50 more than he was getting the past two seasons. Lidstrom was usually in the 200+ shot range, so a bit part of his returning offensive numbers is thanks to the old adage "Shoot the damn puck!"

Sergei Zubov - Another blast from the past has returned to glory. Lidstrom gets a lot of attention, but Zubov has been a huge part of the resurgent Stars club and, as he always has, gets very little notice.

Zubov is second in defensemen scoring with 13-55-68 in 74 games with a +20. He only had 38 PPP compared to Nicklas Lidstrom's 49, so much of the difference is thanks to Detroit's potent PP attack. Zubov also shoots the puck a lot less with just 133 SOG, the lowest total among the Top 10 d-men scorers.

Lubomir Visnovsky - The diminutive Slovak has had his breakout season with 67 points in 77 games. Always dangerous on the Power Play, Visnovsky had never really busted through with big totals like he did in his Slovak Extraliga days. His previous high for points was 39, which he achieved in his rookie season.

He won't really factor into the Norris voting, however, since it's obvious that he's not quite an elite defensemen. Visnovsky doesn't have quite the defensive responsibilities that the other big boys do, and he plays about 2-5 minutes less per game than the big boys. Sorry, Lubo, but it ain't happening.

Scott Niedermayer - My 3rd place vote for the Norris goes to Scotty, who has been a HUGE factor (besides Selanne) in the surprisingly good play for the Not-Mighty-Any-Longer Ducks. 77GP 12-48-60 +12. He's playing as well, if not better, than he was when he was with the Devils, but he's been surpassed for Norris voting IMO.

Bryan McCabe - He was pacing the defensemen earlier in the season with his incredible slapshot to the tune of 68GP 19-45-64, but that -3 is a telling tale. His defence sucks, and he puts himself out of position quite often looking for the BIG hit and takes a lot of dumb penalties. He missed some games and that will cost him some of the votes he likely would have received. I'm just glad he won't really have a great chance to be an undeserved Norris winner.

Sergei Gonchar - Hailed as one of the biggest busts early in the season, "Gonch-Pole" has actually had a very productive second half for a team few pay attention to (other than Sid the Kid). It was hard to fathom how Gonchar, in the era of the "New NHL" with lots of Power Play time could be so unproductive.

October-December: 34GP 5-13-18 -13 13PPP
January-onwards: 38GP 5-26-31 -1 22PPP

Gonchar credits the coaching change for him finding his game again. I wonder if that nasty (yet clean) hit by Ovechkin in the Russian Superleague last year has left some long-lasting cloudiness and that affected Gonchar's start. Is he a big bust? No. Is he overpaid? Yes. We'll leave it at that.

Dion Phaneuf - Damn, this kid is good. He hits hard, he plays wicked defence (Although he still makes a few rookie mistakes here and there), and he can score!! I expected the hitting to come though, but offence usually takes time (just ask Chris Pronger). Dion's got no probs putting up numbers as he leads the Flames dmen (yes, even over Roman Hamrlik), with 19 goals and 28 assists in 78 games. The amazing stat? 16 of his 19 goals are on the PP, and he leads all NHL defenseman in PP goals.

Other tidbits:

It's not often than a defenseman gets into position to score a shorthanded goal. I count 37 shorthanded goals scored by Dmen all season. It certainly takes some measure of luck and opportunity for a defenseman to score 2 of them in a season. Three defenseman have 2 shorthanded goals, and they probably surprise you: Adam Foote, Karlis Skrastins, and Keith Ballard(!). Their goal totals all season are 6, 3, and 7, so they aren't normally filling the opposing net a whole bunch.

Chris Phillips leads all defensemen in shorthanded scoring with 6 assists. For a guy with only 19 points, that's a large % of offence to come while shorthanded.

Bryan McCabe and Dion Phaneuf lead with 6 GWG apiece, but it's Mathieu Schneider (another blast from the past) who leads with 21 goals. Unless Phaneuf or McCabe can pot another goal, Mathieu will be the only dman to finish with 20 or more goals.

From a cursory and shallow look, it would appear that a lot of the offensive explosion we’ve seen from defensemen has been attributable mainly to assist totals. Even during the lean years, Gonchar and MacInnis could provide 20 goal seasons, but we just weren't seeing to many high assist totals. You can thank the Power Play Effect for that.

...and...I find this image quite amusing...
Marion Gaborik

Not even a passing mention of Redden? 10G, 39A in only 61 games? +35! Surely good enough to make your list of "also rans."
Wade is good...but...

1. He's got the personality of a slug.

2. I can't afford to talk about every frickin Dman there's a defenseman worth talking about ;)
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hmm. Other than it being a cool picture of Gabby,.. I don't immediately see what's so amusing about it. Want to help me out?

And I'm surprised that you didn't blog about the Blues retiring #2 for Al MacInnis and how Pronger dissed him by not participating in a video tribute.
actually i agree with pronger on that one. no way, with the entire playoffs in the balance can you party with the other team before the game. after? yea. before? NO

one of the top 11 reasons #2 was retired before #16.

brett hull built the saavis he doesn't need to autograph the rafters too.

i was just glad of brett's multi level participation and cant wait until we do him right, as al shouldnt be a retired blues number at all.
McCabe's defence does suck, and he actually has cut down on looking for the big hit this year. However, he still is caught out of position far too often, and in the defensive-skills department, I believe he's probably been overtaken by Kaberle. McCabe also has a terrible temper and takes a TON of stupid-ass penalties.

And Lidstrom really snuck up on me - I had him pegged as an offensive disappointment after 20 or 30 games but he's really exploded since then.
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