The Defensive Duo

When it comes to doing work in the defensive zone, Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel has turned to primarily two players: Tanner Glass and Jim Slater.

Here are the Jets’ most-used forwards, ranked by the number of their shifts they start in the offensive zone:

Name OZ Faceoffs DZ Faceoffs Off. Percentage
Evander Kane 99 61 61.88%
Alex Burmistrov 90 63 58.82%
Kyle Wellwood 98 69 58.68%
Nik Antropov 93 67 58.13%
Blake Wheeler 102 82 55.43%
Andrew Ladd 122 101 54.71%
Bryan Little 119 118 50.21%
Chris Thorburn 50 68 42.37%
Tanner Glass 50 96 34.25%
Jim Slater 54 129 29.51%

It’s hard not to look at that table and reflect on how sensible the order is.

At the top of the rotation we see a collection of less experienced youth (Kane, Burmistrov) and flawed but offensively capable veterans (Wheeler, Antropov). The heart of the rotation – Wheeler, Ladd and Little – have a wider range of skills and have been kicking around the league for a few years. They have a nice blend of offense and defense, so it makes sense to give them a range of starts.

At the bottom of the group are Chris Thorburn, Tanner Glass, and Jim Slater. Thorburn’s played four full NHL seasons, and scored between 13 and 19 points – there’s not really a ton of offensive talent wasted if he starts more in his own end. Jim Slater’s in a similar position, with almost 400 games played, and he’s never topped the 20-point plateau. Tanner Glass, with 10 points this season, is already just one back of his career high.

Slater and Glass are actually in fairly select company based on how regularly their sent out in their own zone. Among forwards with more than 10 games played, just eight get a higher percentage of their starts in the defensive zone than Slater, and Glass is one of the 20 players most frequently send out in his own end.

Claude Noel deserves credit for the way he’s used the personnel at his disposal this season.

  • Alex Hemsky

    Do you agree with how GST have been used?

    Seems to me they’re in over their heads. Corsi shows them getting killed. Would we be better off using Antropov & Ladd in a more defensive role?

    In the last 2 games it looks like Noel has gone away from using GST in a shutdown role (easier line matchups & more offensive draws).