Photo: Amanda Bowen
Last week, Peter offered up some thoughts on Mike Green and his deployment as a “third-pair” defenseman.
Some commenters believe that, and I’m paraphrasing here, Green is a dominant possession player primarily because he plays against weaker competition. But is quality of competition that much of a driving force behind why Green is doing so well at shot-attempt differential? Does Brooks Orpik suffer at the same because of the tougher opponents he faces? If they swapped assignments, would Green would become Orpik in possession and vice versa?
I have doubts.
(One point I’ll leave alone, at least for this article, is that quality of competition differences are largely washed out over the course of a season.)
While we can’t magically swap the assignments Green and Orpik receive, they face the same players often enough that we can see how they each do when facing similar levels of competition. I’ve divided 54 players up into 3 categories, 18 players per category. The categories go like this:
|Player Category||On-ice 5v5 shot-attempt percentage|
|Good Possession||52% or higher|
|Average Possession||48 – 52%|
|Poor Possession||48% or below|
The groupings lack nuance and are a bit sloppy, but I think the results are interesting. This will give us a good idea if Green and Orpik’s possession differences are heavily influenced by who they play against.
The sample is from 2011 to now, since that is when one commenter on Peter’s article said Green went downhill. During this time period, Orpik’s Penguins were over 2 percent better than Green’s Caps in terms of possession. Just to be clear, I am using a time period in which Green had injury problems and also played for a weaker possession team than Orpik.
Here’s what the numbers say– even with the deck stacked against Green.
Even in the injury-plagued portion of his career and playing for a weaker overall team, Mike Green got better possession than Brooks Orpik against all three levels of players. Against all three tiers, Green is above league average and Orpik is below.
Mike Green is a good possession player and Brooks Orpik is not– regardless of the competition they play against.
If you want to see the players/numbers I used to get the averages, you can view them here.
Thanks, as always, to War on Ice and Hockey Analysis for all of the stats.
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