Anyone following the NYR season knows that the NYR are having a terrible defensive season, by #fancystats metrics, at least. As of today, the NYR are 20th in Score-Adjusted 5v5 CorsiFor% in the entire league. I think it's pretty well accepted now that good puck possession teams are better bets for playoff success.
I've also spent a fair amount of time marveling at the NYR's defensemen's possession results specifically, and, as I've tweeted before, they are bad, bad, and not good. So I thought it would be fun to see how the NYR defensemen's current Score-Adjusted 5v5 CorsiFor% measured up to other playoff teams in the BtN era.
To start, here are the current NYR D Score-Adjusted 5v5 CorsiFor%, from war-on-ice.com.
Not much surprising here. 4 of the NYR top 6 are under 50% for the season, and 2 are under 48%. That seems like a bad thing for a team that wants to win a Stanley Cup, right?
I looked at every playoff team since 2007/8, and counted (1) how many defensemen on those teams were under 48% SA CF 5v5, and (2) how many were between 48-50% SA CF 5v5. I'm generally saying anyone under 50% is "bad". To approximate "full-time" defensemen, I excluded any defensemen who played less than 500 even-strength minutes, or who played less than half the team's regular-season games.
One big caveat - I didn't look at the rosters for the final regular-season game, so there may be players in these numbers who played for the team prior to the trade deadline, but were not on the team's playoff roster. My concept here was just to get an idea of how many "bad" defensemen played on playoff teams, and the actual numbers during the playoffs are likely a little different.
Let's start with the Cup finalists. Generally, teams that make it to the Stanley Cup finals don't have a lot of bad defensemen. In 2015, for example, between the Hawks and Lightning, there was only one defensemen who met my time-on-ice/games played criteria that had a 5v5 SA CF% between 48 and 50% (TB's Andrej Sustr), and zero that had a 5v5 SA CF% under 48%. Same in 2014 (the one player being Reliable Danny Girardi at 49.93%). As you can see in 2012, my criteria (and laziness) catches Jack Johnson as being on the Kings, and he was traded before the playoffs. The team in 2008 with the 6 players below 48%? Pittsburgh, who had no defensemen better than 48%.
Generally though, this suggests that teams that get to the Finals typically have a lot of "good" defensemen and not many bad ones.
Now looking at teams that made it to 3rd Round (Conference Finals) before losing - so another 2 teams per year. Here we start to see some teams with a bunch of bad defensemen making it deep. The fluctuations year to year can be a bit wild, you know, cause its hockey. For example, the teams that lost in the 2012 conference finals (Rangers and Coyotes), had more "bad" defensemen than "good" ones. The year before, 2011, however, two teams lost in the Conference Finals (Tampa Bay and San Jose) with some darn good defensemen.
In 2010, the Canadiens had all of the noted "bad" defensemen, and based on games played, a lot of regular-season injuries. The 2008 numbers are all the Flyers. So the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008 was played between two teams [Flyers and Penguins] who had all of their full-time defensemen under 50% for the regular season.
Looking at the 2nd Round (Conference Semifinals) losers, we again see about the same averages - and again the NYR are currently icing more than those averages. The entire 2008 season must have had some wacky regular season results, because again, another 4 of the 2008 playoff teams had a bunch of "bad" defensemen (Montreal with 8 of them alone).
Finally, the 8 teams (per season) that lost in the 1st Round. The totals are all over the place - the shortened 2013 lockout season having a few bad teams (cough*Leafs*cough). But again, the averages are pretty much the same, and the 2015/2016 Rangers are slightly above those averages.
There are ways to better analyze this. I could clean up the rosters, or I could limit it to only the Top 6 defensemen by total TOI. And obviously playoff success is dependent on a lot more than just how well the defensemen played in the regular season. I'm not predicting anything, here.
At this high level, though, there have been teams similar to the 2015/16 Rangers - teams that made the playoffs with a fair amount of defensemen who had "bad" regular-season possession results. Those teams generally made it to the Conference Finals, at best.
So, I guess my point is:
Again, Im right in my analysis.