One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of this 2009-10 season is the rise of Andy Greene, legitimate top-4 NHL defenseman. He was signed this summer to a fair and modest amount of money ($1.475 million) for a third-pairing defenseman, having played mainly on the third pairing last season. He started the season as the team's 7th, as Cory Murphy got the team's first two games. Greene was given a chance in the third period and he, perhaps inadvertently, made an important play in the dying seconds in Tampa Bay. Somehow, he got the puck towards Travis Zajac to score a last-second equalizer, which guaranteed the Devils' first point of the 09-10 season; and gave the Devils a chance to win their first game of the season, which they did.
That was Andy Greene's first point of the 2009-10 season. In retrospect, it should have been a sign of things to come. Not only has he impressed Devils fans by taking control of the team's #1 defenseman spot after Paul Martin's injury - myself included - but he's been clutch with his production.
|2009 - Andy Greene||32||5||16||21||11||4||4||0||3||23:53||36||13.9|
After Monday's now famous victory in Pittsburgh, Greene has 21 points in 32 games - or 0.65625 points per game. Assuming he plays the rest of the season (79 games as Greene sat for 3 games), Greene is on pace for exactly 51.84375 points, or 51 if you'd like to approximate. That is simply impressive by itself. That would be the highest mark by a Devils defenseman since Brian Rafalski's 55 point season in 2006-07 and only the second time since the lockout since a Devil blueliner reached that plateau.
I discovered all this when ILWT user dsarch asked me how Andy Greene's assists broke down. Just out of curiosity as to whether Greene is picking up assists from the run of play, or directly setting up many of these goals. Well, Greene's 16 assists break down to 11 primary assists and 5 secondary assists. And one of those secondary assists are definitely an important part of the set-up for the goal; like his assist on Dean McAmmond's goal against Atlanta. (Click the link, watch the video of that goal, and see for yourself.)
But that's not the most impressive part about it. Check out this chart of Greene's points game-by-game.
To summarize, Greene has 3 game winning goals, 6 assists on game winning goals, and 11 power play points (4 goals, 7 assists, third behind Nicklas Bergfors and Zach Parise in power play scoring). The Devils have a remarkable 15-2 record when Greene does get a point, and 19 points across those 15 games. No wonder some Devils fans think Greene equals wins, no matter how coincidental the situation may be. Greene isn't just involved in eating a lot of minutes or picking up points at an incredible rate, he's getting goals and assists off of man advantages and the eventual winning goal. Quite simply, he's getting important points. And the only players who get so many important, meaningful points are important players.
I can't say for certain whether he'll keep up this rate of production, but it is most definitely impressive and I think this showcases. All this from someone who didn't even start at the beginning of the season. I think this is further proof of how important Andy Greene has been this season for the Devils - at both ends of the rink.
Feel free to discuss Andy Greene and his season further. Do let me know if I made an error or if you'd like to add to that. Thanks to dsarch for giving me the initial idea to delve into Greene's stats so far this season.