I am planning on putting together a post over at my (rarely updated) blog dealing with some of the facts around shot blocking in the NHL today. Before then however I thought I'd share some statistics I was looking at. Some of them are interesting and some of the correlations are fascinating but here are some of the stats that specifically highlight the Devils..
1. The top three teams in shot blocking this season all missed the playoffs by significant margins. New York/B (1,364 blocked shots), Minnesota (1,347 blocked shots) and Montreal (1,341 blocked shots) were the best at this practice in the regular season and none of them came close to a playoff berth.
3. Blocked shots, unlike Hits, seems to be free of home-scorekeeper bias. Most teams numbers home/away are within 150 of each other with one glaring exception: the New Jersey Devils blocked 322 shots at home and 606, nearly double, on the road.
4. Of the top 10 players in the regular season at blocking shots, 7 of them played all 82 games in the season. I'm not sure if this is a chicken-or-egg situation where players who didn't play all season, such as Kevin Klein (151 blocks in 66 games) would have put up more blocks if they played more games. Still, it's evident that players are perfectly capable of blocking shots all season long without getting injured as Martin Brodeur may hope will happen.
5. Dan Girardi had 185 blocked shots in the regular season but was also credited with 61 giveaways, 19th overall among defenders. On the surface there may not appear to be a correlation but I think there actually is. If you look at the defenders who had a high number of giveaways and a low number of blocked shots, they're all offensive defenders. Erik Karlsson blocked 65 shots but gave up the puck 84 times (4th overall).If you remove him, along with Keith Yandle, Jake Gardiner, Drew Doughty and Dustin Byfuglien, then you can see a much more striking correlation between shot blocking and giveaways.
That's all I have for now. I'll update this post with a link to my blog once I get something more substantial posted later tonight. In the meantime I think it's worthwhile to have a separate discussion here about shot blocking as it's going to become a defining aspect of our series with the Rangers. I'm interested in if Devils fans think its good for the game or not. If they think its something more Devils should be trying to do or if we should leave that to less talented teams like Minnesota or Montreal.
One final point on that note: Marek Zidlicky blocked 58 shots this season. I don't have his split between MIN and NJD but that's only good enough for 6th on the Devils and 7th on the Wild. I have to believe that this was one of the issues that Zidlicky had with Coach Mike Yeo's philosophies. Kurtis Foster, for what it's worth, finished the season with 35 blocked shots.