August 24 2010 09:29PM
As part of FN's review of the scoring chance data from last season, I'll be taking a look at the Flames' two top defenders this week. An examination of Robyn Regehr's 5v5 results by that metric will be covered in this installment, with Jay Bouwmeester's results reviewed in the next couple of days.
With that noted, on to Reggie. The Flames' long-standing tough minutes rearguard had two primary partners during 09/10, and there was some talk about improved play by the brawny Brazilian after the Phaneuf trade. That said, I'm the sort that prefers that the numbers do the talking.
First, a review of Regehr's circumstances. As per usual, he faced the best competition of any of the Flames' D, and finished the season with the second toughest ZoneStart numbers, trailing only Bouwmeester. His regular lot in life, if you will. First, his overall 5v5 SC numbers:
SC % 46.3
So, not ideal, since getting outchanced by the other team's best players usually means trouble. Next, let's look at the splits with his two main partners. Until game 55, Dion Phaneuf was the man on Regehr's right flank. They faced the toughest comp, although the Bouwmeester/Gio pairing had tougher ZS numbers, and Regehr compiled these results:
About what one might have expected, given the overall numbers. After the trade, Ian White moved on to the top pair, and they faced the toughest comp and ZS of any of the Flame D during this period, including Bouwmeester. That noted, the actual ZS percentages that Reggie/White faced were about the same as Regehr faced with Phaneuf, since the club had better overall ZS numbers after the trade. At any rate, SC numbers for Regehr avec White:
Hmm. Another theory shot to hell. That doesn't invalidate Ian White, btw, since he made about 5.5 million less than Dion last year, and his presence didn't appear to hurt Reggie. Didn't help him either, of course. What was more interesting to me were Regehr's results behind certain forwards. Since Regehr had pretty consistent competition levels, seeing what his numbers looked like with two specific forwards should tell the tale of who did what against the other teams' better players. First, behind Jarome Iginla:
Eeesh. Reggie should have sued for non-support. Regehr didn't always get his head handed to him, though. Here are his numbers when he played behind Daymond Langkow:
Fancy that. Now, to be fair, Chris Higgins did some exceptional work in his brief time with Langkow, since Langkow and Regehr were a bit below 50% without his assistance. Still, the numbers suggest that Regehr was better off when he had Daymond Langkow pushing the pile forward, and given Langkow's ZS numbers, I think one could likely make a reasonable assumption that when he and Regehr were on the ice together, they were facing the toughs and doing so in their own end. That would act as a depressant on the SC%.
There is one last duo that I wanted to examine. I know that the Flames' current personnel on defence will almost certainly preclude them from going this route, and last year's sample size is pretty small, but here are Regher's totals with Jay Bouwmeester:
If you consider they would have played the best the other team had to throw out in their shared icetime, and likely only played together when the Flames were ahead and ostensibly sitting back, it does give food for thought. I can't see it happening full time unless the Flames trade Sarich for a physical, left shooting, second pairing D, though, because I can't see the Flames using Giordano and White as a pair, and I can't see them pushing White to the third pair in deference to Sarich.
It's important to reiterate that Robyn Regehr will always suffer a bit by this metric, since he'll likely face good comp and moderately difficult ZS until further notice. His numbers will also be dependent on the quality of help that plays in front of him, of course, and if the Flames can compile a decent first line out the melange of forwards on the roster, I suspect the SC numbers will improve. I can't see a Jokinen/Iginla duo being the solution to that problem, but that's another tale for another time.