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St. Louis Blues' Defensive Pairings

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This is a follow up to last week's article examining the Blues' offensive line combos. This week we look at the defensive pairings used this season.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Last week I told you about the new site Corsica.Hockey.  One of the features on that site is the ability to look at the enhanced stats for all the line combinations that occurred so far this season.  This same feature also lets you view defensive pairings.  So I built a dataviz similar to the offensive line pairing from last week, but looking specifically at the St. Louis Blues' defensive pairings this season.

The default for the dataviz is set to Alex Pietrangelo not just because his first name comes up first alphabetically but he has been the heart of the Blues' defense.  Taking a look at his pairings Petro spends the most time with Jay Bouwmeester and it might seem they are struggling a bit this season.  However, they have been taking a lot of defensive zone starts against the Blues' toughest competition. It is not uncommon to see players in the shut-down quadrant of the player usage chart with negative possession.  Their redemption is the light blue color of the goals for % bar indicates that they are below the goals against per 60 average for all Blues' defensive pairings.  So while they seem to be struggling with possession, it might be a result of usage.  The key metric is goals and their goals against rate is below team pairing average.  Are they amazing?  Not really.  Are they solid and consistent?  I think so.

What strikes me as interesting is the potential for a Petro and Shattenkirk pairing.  I like Kevin Shattenkirk's offensive play and how he has been getting into the play more this season and not just hanging at the blue line.  Not counting Petro paired with Colton Parayko (more on that later), the Petro/Shatty pairing is the best offensive pairing for Petro.  Choose Shattenkirk at the top of the viz, and you will see the Petro/Shatty pairing is one of the best pairings for Shattenkirk as well.  I just happened to notice this pairing while pulling everything together for the article and then this came across twitter.

Perhaps we will get to see how successful (or reckless) a Shattenkirk-Pietrangelo pairing can be tonight?

Parayko has blasted his way (literally) into the Blues' lineup this season.  Coming out of camp as a rookie he has been playing decent defense with a cannon rocket nuclear explosion of a shot.  His possession numbers and goals for numbers all look solid.  He has primarily been paired with Gunnarson this season and they have managed positive possession and goal scoring numbers.  His best pairing so far has been with Petrangelo but that has been limited to only 75 minutes of ice time.  It would definitely be interesting to see him paired with Petro and also with Bouwmeester.  If Jaybo wasn't out tonight, I would suggest to Hitchcock that he should play 22 with 27 and then 55 with 19 just to see about possibilities.

Speaking of Bouwmeester being out of tonight's line up, Bortuzzo is slotted to fill in for him and play alongside Edmundson.  They have seen about 240 minutes of ice time together and have decent possession and goals for numbers.

Have fun with this tool and let me know in the comments if you find any interesting pairings or have any questions about how to use the dataviz.

Update:  Just updated the underlying data so it is current as of the games played on 3/28/15.