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  • Marek Zidlicky: Worst Defenseman?


    Marek Zidlicky seems to be having the kind of season that Martin Skoula had a couple years back and part of last season. It's not necessarily that he makes more mistakes than anyone else. It's that, for some reason, every time he makes a glaring mistake, the other team scores.

    In order to truly understand a player's effectiveness, we need to go beyond the +/- and get into the Corsi rating. I'll steal an explanation from Hockey Numbers:

    In addition to the Corsi rating, Behind the Net has created their own rating for +/-, which is relative to the rest of the team, depending upon whether a player is on the ice or not.

    Ready to be shocked? Here are the advanced ratings for the Wild defensemen


    So, from these evaluations, would you argue that Nick Schultz is the worst defenseman on the team, or that Marc-Andre Bergeron is the best? No. Of course you wouldn't. Clearly Corsi doesn't tell the whole story. Nor does +/- relative to team, nor even the goals against/60 minutes. So what does? This is why one has to take all statistics with a grain of salt. Especially defensive stats.

    All too often in hockey, stats are heavily weighted toward offensive prowess. Look at the numbers for Bergeron and Schultz. Nick Schultz and Kim Johnsson put way too many minutes against the top lines for it not to have negatively affected their +/-, Corsi or pretty much any other defensive stat. You can see how the +/- relative to team really helps Johnsson and Schultz and punishes Skoula and Zidlicky, which makes sense. But Bergeron is still sitting out there as an outlier. Has he had a much better season than we originally thought?

    I prefer to combine my stats with eyewitness review of the game from people who know hockey. Like this beauty from Russo's recap today.

    Because no matter what the statistics say, this is what we all remember from the season.

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