By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
Brad Marchand, a player known for his antics on the ice by non-bruins’ fans, is often overlooked for his defensive stats. While Brad Marchand can be an antagonist on the ice, you can’t argue that he isn’t a great player. But what many people overlook about Brad Marchand is his defensive stats. In fact, his defensive stats are so impressive that he should be in the conversation for winning the Selke Trophy.
The Selke Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s best defensive forward of the year, and one who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game, is becoming one of the NHL’s most competitive awards. One individual who has been at the top of voting every year that hasn’t won the award yet is Boston’s own, Brad Marchand. The Selke Trophy is typically won by a centerman, but if Marchand were to win it this year, he could be the first winger to win the award since Jere Lehtinen, who won the award in 2003 and was a right-winger for the Dallas Stars. As Bruins fans, we are used to seeing a Bruins player win the Selke Trophy, which is usually the captain, Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron has won the award four times (2011-2012, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2016-2017). Marchand has always been considered an all-around good player, but he is probably the NHL’s most underrated defensive forward.
Stats, Stats, and more Stats
The great thing about the NHL is everything can be up for debate because of how many stats you can look at. For instance, Marchand is fifth in the NHL over the past four seasons with 357 points (137 goals, 220 assists) in 297 games. The 32-year-old left wing has scored at least 85 points in each, including an NHL career-high 100 (36 goals, 64 assists) in 79 games in 2018-19. This year, as of March 7th Marchand is eighth in the league in points with 27. But this isn’t about offensive stats; this is about defensive stats. As of all NHL players that have played at least 20 games this season, Brad Marchand is tied for fourth in the league in +/- with a +13-goal differential while even strength, which also means he has a 69.7% On-Ice Even Strength goal-percentage.
When Brad Marchand is on the ice, the Bruins have only allowed 10 goals and have scored 23 goals of their own. Other than goals, when Brad Marchand is on the ice, the team has only allowed 192 shots while they have attempted 281 shots, which puts him tenth in the league with a +89-shot differential. Marchand also averages 19:14 Time-on-Ice, and of that 19:14, he averages 1:41 of that time on the penalty-kill. Defensive statistics aren’t always perfect and easy in hockey. But by one measure, shot attempts relative percentage (SAT) shows how a player performs on the ice relative to his team’s average and how Marchand ranks among the best two-way forwards in the NHL. His 5.7 percent SAT relative percentage since his rookie NHL season of 2009-10 is third among left wings (minimum 500 games played) behind Daniel Sedin (6.4 percent) and Tomas Tatar (5.8 percent). The top centers since then are Bergeron (7.1 percent), Henrik Sedin (5.9 percent), and Sidney Crosby (5.1 percent).
While Brad Marchand’s even-strength stats are impressive, his short-handed stats are just as impressive. Marchand has one short-handed goal on the season, and even though that doesn’t sound impressive, that puts him tied for fifth in the league. Marchand is also tied for fifth in points scored while short-handed with two. His shorthanded goals per 60 are 1.71 a game which puts him 12th in the league, and his shorthanded points per 60 is 3.41, which puts him 9th in the league. Brad Marchand is nearly top-10 in every shorthanded category, and that alone is a good enough stat to put him into the conversation of winning the Selke Trophy.
If those stats don’t impress you, how about we look at his shorthanded stats from the last ten seasons compared to other players from the last ten seasons. In the last ten years, Brad Marchand leads the league in shorthanded goals with 28; the next player is six goals behind, which is Michael Grabner. Marchand is also the Bruins all-time shorthanded goal leader, ahead of Bruins legend Rick Middleton who had 26. Since Marchand has scored 28 shorthanded goals since 2010-2011, that means he averages 1.38 shorthanded goals per 60 minutes.
Marchand also has the most points shorthanded at 46; the next player behind, who is also a Boston Bruin, is Patrice Bergeron, who has only 31! That’s a 15-point differential! I’m not saying that Bergeron is bad while shorthanded; I’m just showing how dominant Marchand is while on the penalty kill. So, while you may think Brad Marchand is a “dirty-player” or “just good on offense,” make sure you look at how he plays defense and how much of an impact he has on the Bruins defense.