Playoff Preview: Defense and Goalies

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Head to head, which team had the better defense and goalie?




SB Nation 2014 NHL Playoff Bracket

We broke down the forwards earlier, now it's time to compare defense to defense and have a goalie fight... I mean check out Jimmy Howard and Tuukka Rask head-to-head.

Defense

Jeff also wrote a great post introdicing us to the Bruins defensemen.

With Jonathan Ericsson unavaliable in this round, the Wing will be stuck with both Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindle in the lineup.

Niklas Kronwall - Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser

Brian Lashoff - Jakub Kindl

While the Bruins are able to have Torey Krug in their 3rd pairing.

Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton

Johnny Boychuk - Matt Bartkowski

Torey Krug - Kevan Miller

We talked about defense scoring a bit in the "What Do The Stats Say" post, and as you can see, Boston got significantly more goals and points from their defensemen,, though the percentage of team totals is quite a bit closer. One of the stats that look very lopsided is power play goals by defensemen. The Wings have a pitiful 7 PP goals from D-men, while the Bruins have 18. It's significant to note, however, that 10 of Boston's power play goals came from Zdeno Chara who has been the net front guy all season. Since we don't have a defensemen in the net front role, and typically only have one defenseman on the ice for a power play, that explains the disparity.

DETROIT DEFENSE MATCH UP BOSTON
24 (11.06% of team total) Goals 44 (17.05% of team total)
105 (29.01%) Assists 108 (24.473%)
129 (22.28%) Points 152 (21.71%)
50.83% Avg FF% Close 5 v5 54.37%
28.35% Avg Time Weighted EV Qual Comp 26.84%
16 (9.76%) EV Goals 26 (13.07%)
7 (4.27%) PP Goals 18 (36.0%)
290 (41.13%) PIM 247 (28.20%)

Defense has been a season long weakness for the Wings, and though it's gotten better as Smith has improved and he and Quincey are no longer regularly on the same pairing, this is going to be the area we have to have all hands on deck. Brendan Smith has the best Fenwick close at even strength on the team (thought he only has the 4th highest competition) yet Miller is the only D-man on the Bruins with lower possession numbers than Smith.

Player FF% QualComp Player FF% QualComp
Johnny Boychuk 57.6 27.5 Brendan Smith 53.1 28.4
Zdeno Chara 56.2 26.4 Brian Lashoff 51.8 27.1
Torey Krug 55.1 26.4 Niklas Kronwall 50.7 29.6
Dougie Hamilton 53.7 29.0 Jakub Kindl 50.5 27.2
Matt Bartkowski 53.4 26.6 Kyle Quincey 50.2 28.7
Kevan Miller 50.2 26.1 Danny DeKeyser 48.7 29.1
Average 54.37% 26.84% Average 50.83% 28.35%

The defensive match-ups makes me more than a little nervous.

Goalies

If you need a preview of Tuukka Rask, Jeff has that covered as well. Rask can be a scary goalie because he's so good. How good? He was 5th in wins, 2nd in save %, 4th in goals against, and led the NHL in shut outs with seven. Yes he plays in front of the deepest team in the league, and one of the best defense corps, but he's darn good and the Wings are going to have to throw everything at him (including Dan Cleary's walker) and be relentless. Rask can steal games and I expect him to be Boston's best player.

Player Pos Age GP W L OTL GA SA SV SV% GAA SO
Tuukka Rask G 26 58 36 15 6 115 1641 1526 0.93 2.04 7
Jimmy Howard G 29 51 21 19 11 133 1482 1349 0.91 2.66 2

Jimmy Howard is a very good goaltender as well, though his numbers alone this season are deceptively low. Jimmah has had a not good season by his own standards and his pre-olympic roster announcement was painful to watch many nights. Who cares about the beginning of the season now though? He's won 7 of his last 11 games, going 7-3-1, and he's playing the best I've seen him all season. Jimmy's going to have to stand on his head (metaphorically of course, because literally standing on your head would be an awful strategy for a goalie) and beat the Bruins over the head with his giant... manhood, in order for us to win this series, but it's doable.

Is it time for Wings Playoff Hockey yet?

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