Noon Number (November 28th): 37.30%

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Happy Thanksgiving, Wilderness. I'll be filling-in for Dan today. This edition of the Noon Number is a nice, short one so that you can read it and get back to enjoying the day.

I'm gonna take a look at which defencemen have been the most buried this year. By buried, I mean the ones who've had the highest ratio of defensive zone starts vs offensive zone starts. Obviously, when you're starting in the defensive zone a lot, it means:

  • You're more likely to have negative Corsi/Fenwick as it is much easier for the other team to get shot attempts, while you need to work the puck all the way up the ice to get shot attempts for your team.
  • It generally means a coach trusts the player to shoulder a heavy defensive burden.
  • If a player has good puck possession numbers while starting in the defensive zone, then he almost certainly must have great skills for moving the puck-out of the zone on his stick or through good passing.

-Here are the top-10 most-buried defencemen in the league so far this year:

Player

Pos.

Team(s)

GP

O/DSt%

CF% (5v5 Close)

1

Marco Scandella

D

Wild

23

37.30%

53.20%

2

TJ Brodie

D

Flames

24

37.70%

45.90%

3

Cody Franson

D

Maple Leafs

25

38.30%

41.00%

4

Ladislav Smid

D

Flames, Oilers

24

38.40%

40.80%

5

Mark Pysyk

D

Sabres

25

39.40%

44.10%

6

Christian Ehrhoff

D

Sabres

25

39.70%

42.70%

7

Chris Butler

D

Flames

24

40.30%

40.10%

8

Raphael Diaz

D

Canadiens

25

40.50%

46.90%

9

Dion Phaneuf

D

Maple Leafs

25

41.10%

41.30%

10

Zbynek Michalek

D

Coyotes

20

41.90%

45.70%

  • Marco Scandella is the most buried player in the league with a O/DSt% of 37.30%.
  • What is even more impressive is that Scandella also has the best Corsi For% of any of the players on this list. That means that even though he is starting in the defensive zone more often that not, the ice is being tilted heavily in the Wild's favour with him on the ice this year.
  • If the Wild feel they need to add a defenceman at the deadline, Brodie, Ehrhoff and Pysyk should be on their radar. Their Corsi percentages are a product of the garbage-fire teams they play on, but those guys could thrive in an easier situation where they don't have to carry their awful teammates around.
*

Scandella has been a strange project for the Wild since he was drafted, getting tripped-up by frequent injuries, and sometimes inconsistent play, but it seems that he has finally arrived and looks like a legitimate top-4 defenceman for this team. He has played simply fantastic hockey this year alongside Spurgeon on the 2nd pairing, passing both the eye-test and the stats-test. After getting trashed earlier in the season for a shoddy performance against the Ducks, he has managed to win endless plaudits from Wild media, fans and even the announcers for other teams for his strong play.

Wild fans have been crying-out for a high quality blueline for years. Well, in Suter, Brodin, Spurgeon and Scandella, they've got one. The most exicting thing is that 3 of those 4 are yet to reach their 24th Birthday and have their best years still ahead of them.

The development of Scandella is why fans should be patient with Brodin and Dumba. Both of those guys have struggled somewhat this year. Dumba has looked very uncomfortable at times and has been prone to mental mistakes, while Brodin has found it difficult to emulate his amazing defensive play from last season. The path to becoming a solid top-4 defenceman in the NHL is a long and rocky one. Scandella is 23 and has only now found his feet. Dumba and Brodin are 19 and 20 retrospectively and will have a lot of ups and downs on their way to reaching their full potential, so fans need to be patient and not expect them to figure it out right away.

In short, this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for our young defensive core that is gonna give opposing teams headaches for years to come.

*

Follow me on Twitter for more hockey opinions and analysis.

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