The NHL’s top defensive defenseman: Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik?


In many sports, it’s easy to track the impact an athlete can make on defense. Major League Baseball statheads developed all kinds of crazy ways to monitor the impact a player has on the field, which seems to generate hardcore vs. casual fan debates about Derek Jeter’s worth. (This is something you can see in passing during an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”)

When it comes to hockey, it’s a lot more difficult to measure defensive impact because most plays do not result in a goal and many goals are not the fault of every opposing player on the ice. Sure, you can observe numbers that range from vary in quality from plus/minus to Corsi ratings, but ultimately it’s largely about perception.

That being said, there are some numbers that are better than others. The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle has been looking at the league’s best defensive defensemen and forwards spanning to his beloved blog, so when he puts together a list of those top players, people take notice.

Mirtle released his latest list for the “Rod Langway Award,” a fictional trophy that serves as a reaction to the offensive fixation exhibited by voters regarding the Norris Trophy. His is list is based on an unreleased formula that includes quality of competition (QCMP), even strength goals allowed per 60 minutes (EVGA/60) and shorthanded goals allowed per 60 minutes (SHGA/60).

As you can see from this screen shot of Mirtle’s list, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik ranks in first place so far for the 2010-11 season while the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins produced two players in the top 10.

Interesting stuff.

Does this list – based on stats, not opinion – leave you convinced that these are the league’s best blueliners in their own end? Let us know in the comments.

Report: Sean Avery was arrested last week

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From the Southampton Press:

Sean Avery, the former National Hockey League player, was arrested by Southampton Village Police last week on two criminal charges.

According to authorities, Mr. Avery was arrested September 30 following a routine traffic stop on Jennings Avenue in the village at about 4:09 p.m. He was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.

Police said the criminal mischief charge involved an incident the day before, when Mr. Avery allegedly threw objects at passing vehicles.

As for those counts of possession, according to the newspaper, Avery was found to have “two prescription drugs, acetaminophen with oxycodone and roxicodone.”

He was released on $500 bail and ordered to appear in court at a later date.

Did we mention he’s supposed to get married this weekend?

H/t Gawker

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.