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Take It Easy - Who Benefits From The Easiest Starts in the NHL?

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In  my entry on the short-sightedness of using CORSI as a standalone stat, I asked the question:

without looking, can anyone guess which NHL player had the easiest time of it in 2008-2009 with a Zonestart value of -210? What about the qualifying player with the lowest percentage of defensive zone faceoffs, 18%, in 2008-2009?

So who, like The Eagles, is running down the road tryin' to loosen their load?  The answer to both was a bit shocking as they were both defensemen.

The first list is the 20 easiest zonestart values in the league in 08-09.

Easiestzonestart0809_medium

The next list is the 20 qualifying players that took the lowest percentage of defensive zone faceoffs in 08-09.  Remember, the league average for defensive zone faceoffs is 30%.

Leastdefpct0809_medium

There are a number of interesting things on this list, and a couple of players on this list just blew me away.

  • Oiler fans were starting to grumble that Voracek was a better pick than Gagner based on the boxcars.  These numbers tell a different story.  Hitchcock protected Voracek in a way that Gagner wasn't.  Gagner's ZS of -39 and DefPct of 29% along with 3rd toughest qualcomp outpace Voracek's -114 and DefPct of 21% and playing the 4th toughest qualcomp. 
  • Ed Jovanovski should give part of his next contract to Sauer and Michalek.
  • Even though the Flames have a fantastic team Zonestart, you can still see that they hide Dion Phaneuf.  Second pairing qualcomp combined with the second highest % of offensive starts on the team -- he and Bouwmeester are polar opposites by the numbers.
  • I wonder how much Ryan Callahan's game will slump if he gets some tougher assignments? 

I'll be diving into these numbers a bit more in the coming weeks.