How Good is Paul Martin? Part 2: 2009-10 Analysis of His Even Strength Play

Paul Martin's pretty good on the puck. He didn't play a whole lot in 2009-10, but when he did, he played quite well. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Paul Martin has become the top defenseman for the New Jersey Devils in recent seasons, leading the defense in both points and time on ice until this past season, where he missed 59 games due to a broken left arm.  Martin is one of the impending unrestricted free agents from New Jersey, so his return may not be guaranteed.  Earlier this morning, I took a look at Paul Martin's effectiveness as a defenseman based on his 2008-09 even strength play.  In this part 2, I will be looking at his 2009-10 season performance based on the same metrics.

Again, Paul Martin's micro-stats from Behind the Net in addition to the basic stats at NHL.com.  I am focusing on even strength, 5-on-5 play, because that situation dominates most hockey games.  I understand that special teams are important, I will be covering that in a later post this evening (Part 3, incidentally).  As in Part 1,  I'm going to be looking at on-ice/off-ice differentials from Behind the Net in the following stats: shots against per 60 (SA/60), shots for per 60 (SF/60), goals against per 60 (GA/60), and goals for per 60 (GF/60).  Also, and again thanks to Derek Zona's help, I've calculated his adjusted Corsi per 60 to get an idea of the New Jersey Devils' territorial play when he was on the ice.

In addition to all this, I'm also looking at the micro-stats of defensemen who played at least 20 games and have  a minimum time on ice per 60 of 15.  In 2009-10, there were 132 defensemen who fit this definition. Again, I'll be comparing Paul Martin to other defensemen who have played significant minutes for their team when I post up Martin's own results.

I am fully aware that Paul Martin only playing 22 games may not be a fair comparison to someone who has played more than 70.  Fair enough.  However, this is a results-oriented business that often focuses on what a player has done recently.   Even if Martin only played a little more than a quarter of the season, how he performed is going to speak larger than any criticism that he didn't play enough games.  After all, he still averaged 17:54 of even strength ice time (4th on Devils) and 22:30 in total (2nd on Devils).  It wasn't as if he got limited minutes when healthy, when he played, he was a factor on the New Jersey blueline. 

He's shown no signs that his injury affected him after returning, so I doubt teams are going to be terribly concerned about Martin's health.  After all, if he played well regardless of missing 59 games, you'd at least consider adding him to your team.  If you want to take the following with a grain of salt, by all means go ahead; but I'm going to highlight how Martin performed was in his 22 games after the jump.  One final note, please set your viewing to Wide by clicking on "Wide" in the gray box next to the headline. This way you can see the all of the charts.

Shots Against/60 and Goals Against/60

Just as with Part 1, let's focus on the defensive-based differentials first.  If the shots against per 60 dropped significantly when Paul Martin stepped onto the ice, then it's a good indication that he had a significant impact on the ice defensively.  Something teams will definitely be looking for this summer. Teams who utilize micro-stats will find that shots against per 60 alone makes Paul Martin stick out in a very, very, very good way.

09-10_shots_against_per_60_difference

Not only did Paul Martin lead his team in shots against per 60 differential and shots against per 60, he led the entire league based on the parameters I set.  18.9 shots against per 60 is the lowest in the NHL among defensemen who stepped on the ice who have played 20 games and had a minimum TOI/60 of 15.  The differential of 7.6 is far and away the best in the NHL, ahead of Chris Pronger's impressive 5.2.  No, he doesn't throw bone-crushing hits. No, he doesn't rack up shot blocks thanks to a desire to get in front of pucks always and a generous scorer.  No, he's not particularly big.  He just gets stops on the ice.  Teams who are serious about getting some help on their blueline to cut down on shots against should definitely consider Paul Martin this summer.

Incidentally, only two of the defensemen from top 10 in SA/60 differential in 2008-09 made it into the 2009-10 top 10 for SA/60 on-ice/off-ice differential: Marek Zidlicky and Lubomir Visnovsky.

As mentioned in Part 1, goals against per 60 can be used to provide some context to the shots against per 60 stat.  It's good to witness the shots against per 60 rate drop when a defender steps on the ice, but the benefit is reduced if the fewer shots against somehow leads to more goals.   Martin's differential in 09-10 wasn't as large as his SA/60 differential.  It was an improvement, though; the goals against per 60 did decrease when Martin stepped on the ice in 08-09.

09-10_goals_against_per_60_difference

Martin's GA/60 differential was fourth on the team, behind newcomer Martin Skoula, Andy Greene (0.55, 18th), and Bryce Salvador (0.48, 23rd).  Among the rest of the league, Martin was just above average among the 132 defensemen group - which isn't bad considering some of the names surrounding his ranking.

Just like in 2008-09, Martin's GA/60 was one of the lowest in the league at 1.86, 12th among all 132 defensemen and in the middle of the 25 defensemen who had a GA/60 below 2.  He still remains behind Greene (1.64) and Salvador (1.73).    By the way, no one from the top 10 in GA/60 differential in 2008-09 made the top 10 in 2009-10.

While the goals against per 60 differential wasn't all that impressive, it does complement his incredible shots against per 60 differential.  It suggests that not only did the shots against drop when Martin stepped on the ice, but the ones that got through were goals less often.  Again, anyone looking to shore up their blueline could do worse than Martin.

Points, Goals For/60, and Shots For/60

Paul Martin wasn't seen as an offensive defenseman in 2008-09, and an injury shortened 2009-10 definitely won't change anyone's mind. Even though he did put up a point per game rate of 0.5.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG ESP SOG PCT
2009-10 - Paul Martin 22 2 9 11 10 2 1 0 0 9 21 9.5

Martin finished fifth in total points and even strength points on the Devils, and seventh in shots on goal. As one may expect just by the stat line alone, Martin didn't rank very highly among his peers.  Martin was tied for 149th in total points, tied for 152nd in even strength points, and tied for 219th in shots on goal. Again, this was all a function of him missing 59 games due to injury.  Even so, just based on 2008-09 alone, there was no reason to believe he'd be an offensive leader in the league if he was healthy.  Maybe an offensive leader on the Devils, but that's it.

Nevertheless, while Martin didn't put up a lot of points, maybe his goals for per 60 on-ice/off-ice differential will show that when he did play, he may have contributed to the scoring in some way.

09-10_goals_for_per_60_difference

I suppose contributed was an understatement, the Devils definitely scored more when Martin was on the ice.  He's definitely among defensemen scoring leaders on this list.  Clearly, he led the team in not only the differential, but just in on-ice GF/60 on it's own - which was the fourth highest among the 132 defensemen evaluated.  It may have been skewed by how little he played compared to 2008-09, but it's a stark improvement over his last season all the same.

By the way, only one defenseman made the top ten in GF/60 differential in both 08-09 and 09-10: Mike Green. Say what you will about him, but he's an offensive powerhouse on the blueline.  I suppose his point totals alone say the same thing.

While Martin shined in GF/60 differential and GF/60 in 09-10, his shots for per 60 differential and shots for per 60 were not nearly as impressive.  In fact, he wasn't all that good in that department.

09-10_shots_for_per_60_difference

When Martin stepped onto the ice, the Devils shot at a lower rate.  Granted, if the goals for per 60 rate is as high as it was, then perhaps more of these shots were going in - better shots, certainly, if that was the case.  At least in 2008-09, Martin's on-ice impact led to more shots. In 2009-10, when Martin stepped on the ice, his impact on the team's shooting rate was not only beneficial, but it was worse than Colin White, a defensive defenseman.  The 90th ranking is the lowest I've seen from Martin in any of these differential micro-stats from either 2008-09 or 2009-10. 

Speaking of both seasons, only one defenseman made the top 10 in SF/60 on-ice/off-ice differential in both: Mike Green.  Again, the man is an offensive force from the blueline.   Going back to the Devils, Martin was fifth in SF/60 differential - only Skoula was worse with the 131st best differential (out of 132) at 4.8.

In a big switch from 2009-10, Martin's on-ice impact was felt far more in GF/60 than in SF/60 in his shortened 2009-10 season.   A part of me wants to suggest it was superior quality, but I think with the shortened season and the fact that neither differential seems to be all that repeatable among top 10 players in both seasons (this does warrant another look, but later), it's probably luck.

Adjusted Corsi per 60

For those who missed it in Part 1 or are only reading Part 2, I'd like repeat the explanation of this section again.

Corsi is the summation of shots on goal, blocked shots, and missed shots when a player is on the ice.  It can be used to determine territorial dominance by a team since if a team is attempting to shoot, they are most likely in the other team's end of the rink.  However, Corsi requires context to be properly understood.   As Derek Zona showed at Copper & Blue, Corsi is inversely proportional to zone start - where a player starts on the ice.  This makes intuitive sense: it's easier to rack up Corsi events when starting in the opponent's zone than starting in your own.

I've asked Derek for some help and he showed me how to adjust Corsi with zone start.  Vic Ferrari did the work to determine how a player's Fenwick (shots on goal + missed shots) is affected by zone start at even strength; and JLikens expanded it to Corsi.  Since I've already looked at shots and goals both for and against per 60, looking at Paul Martin's Corsi from 09-10 can indicate how he contributed his team's puck possession when on the ice. Taking his zone starts into account gives a more accurate view of his own Corsi rate.   This should be of interest  given that when he stepped on the ice, the Devils reduced their shots for per 60 rate by 1 whole shot.

Following Derek's formulation, I was able to calculate the adjust Corsi/60 for all 132 defensemen.  Paul Martin's wasn't as high it was in 2008-09, but it's not too bad either.

09-10_adjusted_corsi

First, unlike in 2008-09, Martin started in the offensive zone much more than he did in the defensive zone (-47 DZ-OZ value), so his Corsi was adjusted lower from his raw number.  In 08-09, his Corsi was adjusted slightly higher by being in the defensive zone a couple more times.  This may account for how high his SA/60 differential and his low SA/60 as well, starting in the offensive zone more often.

Second, his Corsi/60 drops from being one of in the top 10 is at 6.99.   Not that 6.99 is bad. It's not bad at all, it was the highest on the Devils, it is the 22nd highest among all 132 defensemen, and it's a positive rate.  It does suggest that when Martin was on the ice, despite the poor SF/60 rate, the team had the better of puck possession and territory on the ice.   Just observing this while considering his SF/60 differential makes this that much more a positive.    Either way, it's a drop from his 2008-09 adjusted Corsi/60 of 9.76; despite having a much higher Corsi Rel from Behind the Net.  Perhaps if Martin had a better shots for per 60 differential, then may be we'd see a higher raw Corsi and so a higher adjusted Corsi/60 rate.

Third, the top 10 is filled with some of the best defensemen in the game yet again.  Duncan Keith, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, and Brent Seabrook are in the top 10 again; and the newer names are definitely very good defensemen: Brian Campbell, Shea Weber, and Zdeno Chara.  The only names that really stuck out to me was Kris Letang if only for the fact his Corsi/60 was so high while being in the defensive zone 29 time more often; and Mike Komisarek, another talented defenseman whose season was undercut by injury.

Conclusions

In Part 1, I said that Paul Martin was a very good defenseman in 2008-09 based on these numbers. While Paul Martin played a shortened season, he was excellent in the games he did play in 2009-10.   The only micro-stat where Martin had a very poor differential was in SF/60. Even then, his positive adjusted Corsi/60 still shows that when Martin was on the ice for New Jersey, the Devils had the better of puck possession.

So while Martin wasn't necessarily the top scorer for the Devils as he was in 2008-09, his main contributions can been seen in his SA/60 differential and GF/60 differential.  What both tell me was that when Martin stepped onto the ice, the Devils saw a large reduction in the shots against rate and a large increase in the goals for rate. Even with not-as-impressive GA/60 differential (though the GA/60 itself was very good) and SF/60 differential, this is what you would like to see from a top defenseman.  However, his zone start showed him beginning in the offensive zone more often, which may partially account why the differentials were so high in that way. 

It's difficult to split apart how well he did before the injury and after the injury within 2009-10 - Behind the Net doesn't split numbers in that way.  However, it's clear that the injury didn't derail Martin's performance to a point where he was a burden on the team.  Martin and his agent should feel confident in going into the 2010 offseason knowing that a deeper look at his even strength performance reveals that while the number of games played was low, Martin definitely provided a beneficial impact in a number of ways.

Had Martin play a full season, maybe the magnitude of the effect would be different but as 2008-09 showed, he wouldn't have suddenly become a below average defensemen among those who do average a minimum of 15 TOI/60.

 

Thank You for Reading

As with Part 1, big thanks go to Behind the Net, where I pulled all of these numbers (and why the names are formatted FIRSTLAST) into Excel for comparison and chart-making purposes.  Large thanks to Derek for explaining the importance of Zone Start with respect to Corsi as well as the formulation to get an adjusted Corsi/60. Thanks to NHL.com for the basic stats like points and such.   Above all, thank you for reading.  I hope this gives you a better idea of how Paul Martin did in 2009-10 beyond the basic stat line.

Incidentally, I did save all of these differentials and adjusted Corsi/60 for all 132 defensemen.  I plan on highlighting the impending 2010 UFA defensemen for a future post for comparison purposes.  But if you'd like to know how a certain defenseman stacked up, just ask away in the comments.  If he's a UFA, I'll get to him in said future post; but I'll get to as many as I can read all the same.

Let me know what you think of this post. Was this clear enough?  Did this change your opinion of Paul Martin in any way now that a deeper look was made into his 2009-10season?   Did you come out of this thinking that Paul Martin did very well in 2009-10, or are the low number of games played too much of a factor to take all of this seriously?  After reading both Parts 1 and 2, do you think Martin is too valuable to give up; or do you need to see Part 3 or a comparison between Martin and other UFA defensemen in these stats? 

Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Later this evening, I plan on having Part 3, which will look his special teams performances in both seasons.

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