How defencemen defended their blue line in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs
This offseason, I decided to use my free time to go back and re-watch all of the games from the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. My reason for doing so was because I really wanted to hone in on what defencemen were doing in transition and how they were influencing the flow of the game at 5-on-5.
By tracking their contributions with and without the puck, we can hopefully better sync up the eye test by quantifying it with numbers.
Hopefully, we'll also be able to better explain what those blueliners are actually doing out there to generate their overall results. The game has become so fast, and the ice is constantly flipped all of the time as the action moves back and forth across zones. That makes the scope of a defenceman's responsibilities in transition wide, where it's become imperative that they can handle themselves in both situations.
In part one, we focused on how they did with the puck when tasked with breaking out of their own zone and kickstarting the attack. There has been an added emphasis placed on puck skills at the position in recent years, where the baseline level has become so darn high. If you can't effectively get the puck from point A to point B, you better be remarkably good at defending without it, or you're going to be rendered obsolete quite quickly.
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