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Brodin, Dumba proving to be a great defensive pair for Minnesota

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The two defensemen, widely known to be close friends off of the ice, have showed great chemistry on the ice this season.

Minnesota Wild v Buffalo Sabres

For the longest time, many have considered Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon to be the Minnesota Wild’s top two defenseman. Not only were they both great in their own end, but they could move the puck very well and were more than capable of producing offense for the team, especially on the power-play, where they have been invaluable pieces over the last few seasons.

To this day, Suter and Spurgeon are both top pair caliber defensemen, and they will both likely to continue to be good for a long time, there’s a new top defensive pairing in town, one that includes the smooth skating defensive defenseman Jonas Brodin and the sharpshooting offensive defenseman Matt Dumba.

While it may be a little bit confusing as to why these two players, who tend to play contrasting styles of hockey, have such great chemistry together and have performed so well in the first 20 or so games of the 2020-21 NHL season, they have been absolutely dominant together, and both the eye test and the numbers back that up.

The first thing that you’ll notice when watching Brodin and Dumba on the ice together this season is just how much they really complement each other. While you wouldn’t think that an offensive minded defenseman in Dumba would mesh well with a generally defense-first player in Brodin, they actually have looked great together this season, and it seems like one of the biggest reasons for that is the fact that both players have adjusted their play styles a little bit in order to improve their weaknesses, while still maintaining their strengths, and become more complete defensemen.

For example, while Brodin has always had the ability to skate at an elite level, he never seemed to utilize that skating ability to join up in the rush and in the offensive zone, preferring to play it mostly safe and make the simple play. This season, however, he is starting to utilize that skating ability more often, showing the willingness to skate the puck into and around the offensive zone, which has led to an increase in offensive production from him in terms of points with 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 20 games played.

Now, when you take a look at Dumba’s play this season, he is still the dynamic offensive threat from the blueline that we all know and love, but the defensive mistakes are few and far between, and he is becoming a reliably good defensive player while still showing the ability to drive offense at a high level.

As was said earlier, Brodin and Dumba have seemingly adapted their games to better complement each other, and so instead of Brodin always having to cover up for Dumba’s defensive miscues, or Dumba having to make up for Brodin’s lack of offense, they have both started to bring an even more well-rounded game to their defensive pair so that they can continue to play at a high level and provide on both the offensive and defensive parts of the game.

If simply watching the two of them playing together as a defensive pair this season hasn’t fully convinced you of just how good they have been, then a deeper dive into the advanced statistics behind the Brodin and Dumba pairing will surely convince you.

While there’s a lot of different data here, the three most important stats that really emphasize just how good the Brodin and Dumba pairing has been are Expected Goals For (xGF), Expected Goals Against (xGA), and Expected Goals For Percentage (xGF%).

Wild 3 Defensive Pairings

Player Player 2 GP TOI CF CA CF% FF FA FF% SF SA SF% GF GA GF% xGF xGA xGF% SCF SCA SCF% HDCF HDCA HDCF% HDGF HDGA HDGF% On-Ice SH% On-Ice SV% PDO Off. Zone Starts Neu. Zone Starts Def. Zone Starts On The Fly Starts Off. Zone Start % Off. Zone Faceoffs Neu. Zone Faceoffs Def. Zone Faceoffs Off. Zone Faceoff %
Player Player 2 GP TOI CF CA CF% FF FA FF% SF SA SF% GF GA GF% xGF xGA xGF% SCF SCA SCF% HDCF HDCA HDCF% HDGF HDGA HDGF% On-Ice SH% On-Ice SV% PDO Off. Zone Starts Neu. Zone Starts Def. Zone Starts On The Fly Starts Off. Zone Start % Off. Zone Faceoffs Neu. Zone Faceoffs Def. Zone Faceoffs Off. Zone Faceoff %
Jonas Brodin Matt Dumba 18 229.9166667 217 203 51.67 164 136 54.67 119 97 55.09 13 8 61.9 10.96 7.76 58.54 104 87 54.45 54 32 62.79 10 5 66.67 10.92 91.75 1.027 28 47 26 119 51.85 79 83 68 53.74
Ryan Suter Jared Spurgeon 21 227.9333333 217 228 48.76 179 158 53.12 133 115 53.63 11 13 45.83 10.03 9.89 50.37 104 92 53.06 47 37 55.95 5 8 38.46 8.27 88.7 0.97 39 52 27 122 59.09 92 86 73 55.76
Ian Cole Carson Soucy 14 164.15 122 174 41.22 104 120 46.43 81 76 51.59 14 6 70 6.81 5.66 54.61 59 67 46.83 32 23 58.18 8 1 88.89 17.28 92.11 1.094 17 28 39 106 30.36 41 56 70 36.94
Data from Natural Stat Trick

Essentially, the total xGF is how many expected goals a player’s team was expected to score when the player, line, or pairing was on the ice. So for the Brodin and Dumba, they have an xGF of 10.96 at even strength, which is the best of the Wild’s defensive pairs by nearly a whole point, meaning that the Wild were expected to score around 11 goals when Brodin and Dumba were on the ice up until this point in the season.

On the other side of things xGA measures how many goals the other team was expected to score when that player, line or pairing was on the ice. When it comes to xGA, the Brodin-Dumba pairing is second on the Wild with an overall xGA of 7.76 at even strength. Even more impressive, is the fact that the pairing ranks 5th among all defensive pairings in the NHL that have played at least 200 minutes together at even strength, meaning that Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba have done an excellent job at preventing other teams from getting great scoring chances and ultimately scoring goals when they are on the ice as a defensive pairing.

Again, it’s no secret to anybody that both Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba are very, very good defensemen, but they have both taken a big step forward this season in all aspects of the game, which has combined with their great friendship and chemistry from off the ice to make them not only the best defensive pairing on the Wild’s roster, but one of the very best in the entire National Hockey League.

They can defend against the opponents top players and they can create offense of their own, in fact, there isn’t anything that the Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba pairing can’t do well when they are on the ice, and it just reinforces the idea that Minnesota has, and will have one of the absolute best defense corps in the league for many seasons to come.