31 January 2012
(All stats taken from Behind the Net)
Jay McClement makes the avs a better team. He is so solid in his own zone (along with Daniel Winnik) that it allows the Avs to move Ryan O'Reilly up to the second line, and this season (as opposed to seasons past) he is finally getting to start shifts in the offensive zone. It's no wonder his point totals are rising.
Here's an example: His first two seasons in the league, Ryan O'Reilly's OZone % (his ratio of starts in his own zone as compared to the offensive one) was 43%, and 40.5%. Not surprisingly, O'Reilly in those seasons had very modest point totals of 26 total points.
This season, Jay McClement is taking the tough starts (35.0%!), which frees O'Reilly up for more time in the offensive zone (51.0%), the result: O'Reilly had exploded for 36 points in only 50 games. No doubt that O'Reilly has matured and grown as a player, as 2 year olds do, but McClement has been an invaluable addition to O'Reilly's offensive development.
Want an example from another team?
Until the 2009-2010 season, The Brothers Sedin were good for ~1PPG, give or take a few points. Henrik's three previous seasons (05-06 -- 08-09): 75, 81, 76, 82. Daniel's 4 prior: 71, 84, 71, 82. The ages for the brothers these seasons: 25-28
Then in 09-10 the brothers started exploding for 10-20 more points a season (especially Henrik). Daniel hade 85, then 104 last season. He's on pace for 87 this season. Henrik jumped from 82 to 112 and back down to 94 last season. That's a ridiculous jump for a 28-29 year old. So what can account for those jumps in points?
Ryan Kesler (and Manny Malhotra later).
In 07, 08 The Sedins OZone% from 07-08 to 10-11: 54.8/57.8 __ 49.9/52.4__ 57.7/61.8__71.7/74.5__79.1/78.8
Not surprisingly here's what happened: Ryan Kesler started playing more & more minutes and getting regular defensive zone starts (38.7%) from 07-08 (12.96 toi/60) to 09-10 where (13.73, 45.1%). Then The Canucks went out and got Manny Malhotra, defensive specialist extrodinaire. He gobbled up defensive zone starts, His OZone start % last year and this season: 25.0 and an absurd 13.2% !!! This has freed up the Sedns to do what they do best, score points. (it's also freed up Kesler a little bit, now up to a robust 48.8% OZone start)
Everyone knows the importance of Dave Bolland to Chicago (33.8%) but Bolland, Krueger, Frolik, and Bickell free up Kane, Sharp, Toews, and Hossa as well.
These defensive specialists (the ones who should be considered for the Selke) are the guys who munch the tough minutes, allowing their offensively gifted teammates to score all the points and get the glory. But without these defensive plugs, those guys would spend a lot more time defending, and a lot less scoring.