First I'll note that Behind The Net has updated as of Oct. 29, and I've also passed along a lengthy list of requests for other stats to be added to the site.
We'll see how that goes.
I've looked at defensive performance almost ad nauseam on this site in the past; call it my own little fascination, if you will. The greatest thing about a resource like BtN is that we can now measure what was previously unquantifiable (other than with the extremely limited plus-minus figure), and since I've always had a soft spot for the unheralded defensive defenders, that makes me giddy.
To me, many statheads make this far more complicated than it has to be: On some basic level, defensive performance simply comes down to playing the most minutes without having a goal go in your net. Period.
The leaders and the bottom feeders, 13 per cent of the way through 2007-08.
Defencemen with best 5-on-5 goals against average (among top 100 in ice time):
By all accounts, big Rusty Klesla is having the year everyone in the Columbus organization thought he would when he was picked fourth overall in 2000. (Unfortunately many of those souls are no longer around to see it.)
That he (and a Coyotes defenceman!) lead all minute munching blueliners in goals against per 60 minutes played is pretty darn significant if you ask me.
Also noteworthy is the fact there are quite a few guys on here who play on struggling teams, namely rookie Tobias Enstrom with those poor Thrashers.
Derek Morris deserves a medal or something: He's played big minutes against brutal opposition on what is easily the worst team in the league, yet the puck's never going in when he's on the ice.
Honestly, does anyone know what's going on in Phoenix?
Defencemen with worst 5-on-5 goals against average (among top 100 in ice time):
So much for my crowing about the year Brent Burns has had in Minnesota.
Kevin Bieksa's really been having a tough go of it in Vancouver, apparently feeling the pressures that go along with that new big deal. Last year, they were calling him Jovo Jr. out West in reference to the recently departed ex-Canuck Ed Jovanovski, but now Bieksa's looking an awful lot like the Jovo Sr. of today.
Big, young rearguards like Matt Greene and Garnet Exelby are getting relatively easy minutes and still being punished, while it's been a terrible season for Alexei Zhitnik (pair him with Enstrom maybe?).
Players like Henrik Tallinder, Scott Hannan and Kim Johnsson were all leaders in this category last season, so it's been quite a swing for them. All three get the tough assignments and have been beaten up a bit.
N.B. Before the message boards go bonkers with stuff like 'Beaksa's the worstest!' and the like, it's worth noting that these are only defenders from the Top 100 in minutes played so far. Among all 227 defencemen who have played this season, Bieksa's 4.8 GA/60 is 12th worst, with players like Ladislav Smid (8.01), Maxim Kondratiev (6.36), Anders Eriksson (6.17) and Steve McCarthy (6.01) all pulling up the real rear.
Smid is the worst among all players who have played at least 40 5-on-5 minutes, while Derek Roy (6.33) is worst among those with 100+. Buffalo's defensive numbers are way off last year's pace, and Chris Drury's doing just fine in the Big Apple so far.