Monday, April 07, 2008

The 2008 Rod Langway Award

Who has been the best defensive defenceman in the league this season?

I've ran a few posts over the past two seasons about the Rod Langway Award, a fictional honour that uses only statistics (courtesy of Behind The Net) to determine which blueliners have been the best in their own zone.

And the man in top spot at the end of this season comes as a bit of a surprise.

The qualifications include three things (a) playing big minutes at even strength and on the penalty kill, (b) facing difficult competition and (c) having few goals against at even strength and while shorthanded.

Here's this year's final list:

1 ADAM FOOTE COL 75 0.15 2.04 4.70
2 NICKLAS LIDSTROM DET 75 0.15 1.65 5.40
3 JAN HEJDA CBJ 81 0.15 1.82 5.71
4 COLIN WHITE N.J 57 0.09 2.10 4.80
5 NICK SCHULTZ MIN 81 0.11 2.11 5.37
6 CHRIS PRONGER ANA 72 0.07 1.83 4.99
7 CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF S.J 77 0.05 1.91 4.55
8 DEREK MORRIS PHX 82 0.16 2.12 6.12
9 KEITH BALLARD PHX 82 0.16 2.12 6.33
10 BRENT BURNS MIN 82 0.06 2.15 4.50
11 ZDENO CHARA BOS 77 0.09 2.25 5.10
12 BRENDAN WITT NYI 59 0.11 2.50 4.72
13 DAN HAMHUIS NSH 79 0.12 2.76 4.52
14 SCOTT NIEDERMAYER ANA 48 0.09 2.12 6.13
15 DENNIS WIDEMAN BOS 81 0.04 2.07 5.01
16 SAMI SALO VAN 63 0.09 1.62 7.04
17 SERGEI GONCHAR PIT 78 0.08 2.08 6.05
18 DUNCAN KEITH CHI 80 0.09 1.99 6.79
19 KURT SAUER COL 54 0.12 1.70 7.95
20 HENRIK TALLINDER BUF 71 0.09 2.32 5.64
21 MATTIAS NORSTROM DAL 66 0.04 2.07 5.25
22 CHRIS PHILLIPS OTT 81 0.12 2.27 6.64
23 M-E VLASIC S.J 82 0.03 1.88 5.55
24 WILLIE MITCHELL VAN 72 0.13 2.22 6.94
25 RADEK MARTINEK NYI 69 0.09 2.30 5.96
26 ANTON VOLCHENKOV OTT 67 0.11 1.98 7.49
27 JAY BOUWMEESTER FLA 82 0.12 2.58 5.59
28 ROSTISLAV KLESLA CBJ 82 0.05 1.80 6.35
29 PAUL MARTIN N.J 73 0.05 1.50 6.82
30 BRYAN ALLEN FLA 73 0.09 2.22 6.76

Two old-timers, right at the top.

Foote and Lidstrom essentially ended in a tie, although a photo finish gave it to the former Blue Jackets captain based on his top-notch penalty killing numbers. I honestly haven't seen a ton of Foote's play so far in Colorado, but it hasn't affected his numbers.

Nick Schultz, Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer are three guys who have consistently finished near the top of this list. And this is about the only place Derek Morris was getting recognized this season (outside of Phoenix).

As for new entries, how about Sergei Gonchar, whose defensive play has been talked about a lot in Pittsburgh this season. The Penguins have relied on him to face top opposition and kill penalties, surprising given his history.

Duncan Keith's another player worth mentioning. A terrific season for the 'Hawks youngster.

Tallinder, meanwhile, was leading the pack in mid-February but really fell off course, something Sabres fans can attest to given the team's struggles down the stretch. Phillips and Volchenkov were two others who started high up and fell as the season progressed.

What do others think: A good list?

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At 12:45 a.m., April 08, 2008, Blogger Andrew Bucholtz said...

A very solid list. Adam Foote routinely gets ragged on for being too old and slow, but he’s still one of the best defensive defencemen in the league. He doesn’t get enough recognition, partly because he played in the low-key market of Columbus for a while and partly because there are no traditional statistics (other than the problematic plus/minus, which doesn’t help if your team isn’t offensively-skilled) that show the impact of shutdown defencemen. Foote’s been a big addition for Colorado, and addressed one of their glaring weaknesses. Nick Schultz is similarly underrated. For me, the big surprise here was Sami Salo doing so well. Salo’s often recognized for his offensive prowess, but often takes a back seat to Willie Mitchell, Kevin Bieksa and Mattias Ohlund when the talk turns to play in the Canucks’ own end. Former Canuck Bryan Allen, who turned out to be Florida's most lasting acquisition from the Luongo trade, also quietly had a solid year.

At 10:28 a.m., April 08, 2008, Blogger Ray Felix, III said...

Due to an appendectomy, Schultz is done for at least the first round.

Huge blow to the Wild.

At 10:35 a.m., April 08, 2008, Blogger Chris! said...

Two of the top three defencemen play for the Blue Jackets? That's what Hitchcock can do for your team, I guess.

And man am I glad the Oilers decided to go with Smid and Grebeshkov and let Jan Hejda walk. Clearly a very well-considered move.

At 4:22 p.m., April 08, 2008, Blogger Ryan said...

To say that Tallinder's play fell off a bit might be an understatement. Of course, he wasn't helped by a lot of injuries on the back end, but he was downright awful down the stretch. The Sabres ended up using guys like Andrej Sekera (an AHLer all year) for 26 minutes a night over Hank and Lydman.

At 5:17 p.m., April 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent list indeed James! I would love to see the Rod Langway award become a reality -- not just as a Capitals fan, but as a fan of the often-overlooked defensive defenseman role that is so critical to any successful team.


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