Nick Jensen was the best part of Washington’s blue line all season long.
|19.3||time on ice per game|
|50.2||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage|
|51.8||5-on-5 expected goal percentage|
|63.7||5-on-5 goal percentage|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows lots of information for the player over the season. A short description of each chart:
About this visualization: At three times during the season, RMNB shared an open survey with fans, asking the following question for each player:
On a scale from 1 to 5, how HAPPY are you to have this player on the team?
1 means VERY UNHAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
2 means UNHAPPY
3 means NEITHER HAPPY NOR UNHAPPY
4 means HAPPY
5 means VERY HAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
The numbers above show the average score for the player in each survey period.
Wow, what a season.
Jensen, 31, had been a sleeper for most of his career, so his breakout in 2021-22 was quite the surprise. And when I say surprise, I mean it in defensive defender terms, which is to say still pretty boring overall, except in a pleasant way. Using Evolving Hockey’s goals-above-replacement metric, Jensen was Washington’s best player defensively, adding 5.7 goals (while his partner Orlov added 5.5).
Opponents had a tough time getting to the crease against Jensen, as shown in this HockeyViz heatmap. The big blue blob above the net at the bottom indicates fewer shots taken by opponents from that location.
Jensen has never been known as an offensive defender, but he hit a career high in goals and points this season (five and 21 respectively) on the strength of strong puck carriage through neutral and a slight uptick in his offensive rates (thanks, Kevin McCarthy). I have a hard time tracing this to any particular quality of his, but Evolving Hockey rates Jensen’s offense at 9.6 goals above replacement level, behind only Ovechkin and Wilson among the Capitals. I guess I can’t reckon how exactly Jensen provides big offense numbers, but it sounds cool. That offense plus drawing a net 13 minor penalties (committing nine while drawing 21), made Jensen an all-around stellar player.
The Capitals will get one more season of Jensen at $2.5 million, a steal of a price if he can repeat this season’s performance.
What about Jensen’s game do you think drives that big offensive GAR number? What about his style made him so effective on both ends of the puck?
Read more: Japers Rink
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