NHL Dallas Stars

Who is the Dallas Stars’ Best Defenseman?

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Who is the Dallas Stars' Best Defenseman?

Blackhawks vs. Stars
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

As of Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars sit in fifth place in the Central Division with a record of 8-7-2, earning 18 points in the process. A large focus on the Stars this season has been their defense, as there have been numerous nights in which the defense has fed the goaltender to the wolves.

In terms of point production, Brenden Dillon leads all defensemen with three goals and four assists along with a +3 plus/minus rating. Points are great, but they are not particularly useful for projecting a player's future performance. Plus/minus does not tell the whole story either because it only measures goal differential. A more thorough analysis is required, and this can be accomplished by analyzing each player’s on-ice shot differential.

This slideshow will rank Stars' defensemen based on the following criteria during 5-on-5 play: Relative Corsi, Relative Corsi Quality of Competition (Corsi Rel QoC), On-ice Shooting Percentage (On-ice SH%), On-ice Save Percentage (On-ice SV%), PDO (On-ice SH% + On-ice SV%), Offensive Zone Start Percentage, and Offensive Zone Finish Percentage. This breakdown will both confirm Stars fans’ opinions of certain defensemen and also reveal how drastically better two defensemen are compared to the rest of the squad.

It should be noted that these statistics are as of November 7, 2013 and do not include data from the Stars’ games against the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. The data recorded is through 15 out of the Stars’ 17 games, and two games should not drastically alter accumulated statistics. Kevin Connauton's stats were not included in this analysis because he has only played one game.

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6. Sergei Gonchar

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Relative Corsi: -8.4

Corsi Rel QoC: -0.775

On-ice SH%: 5.05%

On-ice SV%: 90.3%

PDO: 953

Offensive Zone Start Percentage: 58.4%

Offensive Zone Finish Percentage: 51.3%

Overall, Sergei Gonchar is clearly struggling. He is playing "sheltered" minutes, facing the lowest quality of competition relative to his defensive teammates, and starting over 58 percent of his shifts. Despite the easier minutes, the Stars allow opponents to attempt 8.4 more shots per game at 5-on-5 than they attempt at the opposing net when Gonchar is on the ice.

Also, when Gonchar is on the ice, shifts do not finish in the offensive zone nearly as much as they start. This all contributes to Gonchar’s PDO of 953, which suggests he is playing in unlucky scenarios. As the season progresses Gonchar’s luck should increase, and his PDO will regress to the mean towards 1000, too.

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5. Alex Goligoski

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Relative Corsi: -10.8

Corsi Rel QoC: 0.326

On-ice SH%: 2.94%

On-ice SV%: 91.2%

PDO: 942

Offensive Zone Start Percentage: 50.7%

Offensive Zone Finish Percentage: 46%

As if the healthy scratch earlier this season was any indication, Alex Goligoski is also struggling, and the Goligoski-Gonchar defensive pairing proved disastrous.

Although he has the lowest Relative Corsi rating of all Stars defensemen, Goligoski plays against significantly tougher competition than Gonchar. His PDO is the lowest of any Stars defenseman and will certainly increase as the season progresses. Goligoski has started just over 50 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, but he has finished 46 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, suggesting the Stars do not maintain possession in the offensive zone that often when he is on the ice.

The team's ridiculously low on-ice shooting percentage with Goligoski should increase since it is highly doubtful the Stars will never score another goal with him on the ice. He has nowhere to go but up.

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4. Trevor Daley

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Relative Corsi: +0.2

Corsi Rel QoC: -0.390

On-ice SH%: 5.55%

On-ice SV%: 90.2%

PDO: 958

Offensive Zone Start Percentage: 52.2%

Offensive Zone Finish Percentage: 52.6%

Like Gonchar and Goligoski, Trevor Daley is plagued by a low PDO, largely due to the on-ice save percentage of 90.2 percent. Daley’s Relative Corsi is essentially even, meaning the Stars are attempting roughly the same amount of shots at the opposing net as the opponents are the Stars’ net.

Daley is playing "sheltered" minutes, as he is starting most of his shifts in the offensive zone while playing against low competition. His luck should improve as the season progresses, and the Stars hope that will happen sooner rather than later.

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3. Jordie Benn

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Relative Corsi: +0.2

Corsi Rel QoC: 0.688

On-ice SH%: 6.42%

On-ice SV%: 95.5%

PDO: 1019

Offensive Zone Start Percentage: 47.1%

Offensive Zone Finish Percentage: 47.7%

Jordie Benn has been a pleasant surprise for the Stars in his second NHL season. His Relative Corsi rating is the same as Daley’s, but he has faced tougher competition than Daley. His PDO is the highest among defensemen, and will likely regress toward 1000, but it will not be too drastic. What will likely decline the most is the on-ice shooting percentage at 95.5 percent.

Benn has played a "shutdown" minutes, as Benn is starting only 47.1 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. The shooting percentage is likely going to decrease because he is finishing his shifts in the offensive zone 47.7 percent of the time. The more time a team spends in the defensive zone, the more likely it is that team will allow a goal.

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2. Stephane Robidas

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Relative Corsi: +8.1

Corsi Rel QoC: 1.327

On-ice SH%: 12.31%

On-ice SV%: 87.9%

PDO: 1002

Offensive Zone Start Percentage: 50.3%

Offensive Zone Finish Percentage: 53.3%

Stephane Robidas has been a workhorse for the Stars blueline.

The Stars average 8.1 more shot attempts than their opponents with Robidas on the ice. He has played against the toughest competition relative to his teammates, and that might be influencing his low on-ice save percentage of 87.9 percent. With a goaltender of Kari Lehtonen’s stature, that will only increase.

Most significantly, Robidas’ shifts start in the offensive zone roughly 50 percent of the time, but they finish 53 percent of the time. This shows there is a noticeable improvement in the Stars’ possession game when Robidas is on the ice. His PDO is just above 1000, so what will likely decline is the rather high on-ice shooting percentage, and, as stated earlier, the on-ice save percentage should increase.

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1. Brenden Dillon

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Relative Corsi: +9.0

Corsi Rel QoC: 1.182

On-ice SH%: 11.56%

On-ice SV%: 89.8%

PDO: 1014

Offensive Zone Start Percentage: 48.8%

Offensive Zone Finish Percentage: 52.2%

Brenden Dillon does not have time for a sophomore slump.

Dillon plays "shutdown" minutes and excels at it, starting 48.8 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone but finishing 52.2 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. His +9 Relative Corsi rating is the highest among defensemen, with Robidas not far behind him.

As is the case with Robidas, the Stars' on-ice shooting percentage is fairly high when Dillon is on the ice, and the team's on-ice save percentage is rather low. Dillon faces almost the same relative quality of competition that Robidas plays against. His PDO is fairly high, but regression to the mean will not be too harsh for Dillon.