2nd best PP QB ever? (with stats)

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by overpass, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    Who do you think is the second best power play quarterback of all time? Let's assume Bobby Orr is a unanimous #1.

    Looking at the stats, I've narrowed it down to the modern options in the poll. These are Denis Potvin, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Brian Leetch, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Sergei Gonchar. See below for the stats I looked at.

    I'll include Doug Harvey in the poll also. The stats are less complete for his era, and it was a different time when defencemen shooting from the point wasn't as important. But I can see him as a reasonable option, either from reputation or from those few who saw him play.

    Eddie Shore, Cyclone Taylor or other old-timers may deserve to be options, but we have very little information on power plays from that time, so I've left them out. Feel free to make a case if you think they deserve it, or anyone else I've left out.

    Discuss!

    **************************************

    STATS

    I don't think the answer to the question is here - that's why I posted the poll! But I thought I'd post the numbers I looked at in case people are interested.

    The stats I used include:

    Power play usage
    How much did the player play on the power play? I measured this using PGF (power play goals for which the player was on the ice) divided by the team's total power play goals, and then adjusted that to a per-game level. Reported as PP%

    Power play scoring
    Goals, assists, and points. I normalized all numbers to a PP scoring level of 70 goals per team season. I also adjusted each player's stats on a season level for the number of power play opportunities the team had. All numbers are reported on a per-82 games basis. Reported as $PPG, $PPA, $PPP.

    Team success on the power play
    The power play QB is very important, and a great one should boost his team's numbers. How good was the team on the PP? For each player, I calculated his team's net power play success relative to league-average. (1.00 is average, higher is better). I also broke that down into 2 components - scoring power play goals and preventing shorthanded goals, since defencemen are primarily responsible for minimizing shorthanded goals. Reported as TmPP+, TmPP+(F), TmPP+(A)

    Instead of using the player's whole career, I picked a group of seasons that represented their "prime", where they were used heavily on the power play and had success. Some had a longer prime to others, which is to their credit but may lower their per-season numbers slightly. It's a trade-off.

    Greatest Modern Power Play Defencemen

    I included Bobby Orr's numbers so you can see why he's #1. Orr quarterbacked the most dominant power play ever, with far more goals, assists, and points than anyone else. He was even the best at preventing shorthanded goals. His numbers were probably boosted a little by the lack of parity in the league at the time, but they are still on a completely different level from everyone else.

    Denis Potvin's numbers would actually look even better by isolating his peak. Just looking at 1975 to 1981, he had 13 $PPG/82 and 49 $PPA/82. On the other hand, the league was pretty weak and top-heavy in the late 70s, and he had great teammates, so his peak numbers may have been a little inflated. That's why I included his seasons in the 80s - I think they're also representative of his level of play. Note that if you want to use a 7 year period for Potvin, Bourque and MacInnis were both at 45 $PPP/82 from 1990-96.

    You might think Paul Coffey is the easy pick here as the #2 offensive defenceman of all time. And he was clearly the second best offensive defenceman at even strength, but on the power play he falls back to the pack. Interesting to note that, unlike the others, his teams allowed more than their share of shorthanded goals. A sign of defensive weakness?

    Ray Bourque's longevity in this area, as in all areas of his game, was remarkable. His teams were 11% better than average on the power play, less than most others. But unlike the others half of that value came from not allowing shorthanded goals, showing Bourque's ability to keep the puck in the zone. Bourque also may have played with the least talented teammates of any defenceman on this list - see below.

    Al MacInnis's teams were very good on the power play over his career, despite a lack of continuity. His shot is famous, but he also racked up a lot of assists, and his team allowed fewer shorthanded goals than average.

    Brian Leetch had excellent scoring numbers through his prime in the 1990s. His team was also very good on the power play, although they didn't have many stars beyond Leetch.

    Nicklas Lidstrom's numbers are an outlier in this group in a couple of ways. He hasn't been used as heavily on the power play, and his scoring numbers are also a little lower. On the other hand, Detroit has had a superb power play almost continuously for the last 15 years, by far the best since 1980. They have had a lot of great players during that time, but Lidstrom has been the constant, and has certainly been a major reason for their success.

    I wasn't expecting to see Sergei Gonchar in this group, but he has very good power play numbers over the last decade.

    Teammates on the power play

    Since I'm looking at team success for these players, it's only fair to look at who they played with. I've listed all players who were on the ice for more than 20% of PGF on the teams that these defencemen played for.

    Bobby Orr: Phil Esposito 94%, John Bucyk 75%, Fred Stanfield 55%, Ken Hodge 46%, John McKenzie 38%, Carol Vadnais 23%
    Denis Potvin: Bryan Trottier 58%, Mike Bossy 51%, Stefan Persson 42%, Clark Gillies 37%, Tomas Jonsson 26%
    Paul Coffey: Wayne Gretzky 37%, Mario Lemieux 24%, Jari Kurri 23%, Glenn Anderson 23%, Charlie Huddy 22%
    Ray Bourque: Cam Neely 24%, Glen Wesley 21%, Adam Oates 20%
    Al MacInnis: Gary Suter 31%, Chris Pronger 20%
    Brian Leetch: Adam Graves 40%, Mark Messier 36%
    Nicklas Lidstrom: Tomas Holmstrom 36%, Brendan Shanahan 35%, Steve Yzerman 32%, Pavel Datsyuk 27%, Sergei Fedorov 27%, Henrik Zetterberg 22%, Igor Larionov 21%
    Sergei Gonchar: Peter Bondra 36%, Sidney Crosby 33%, Evgeni Malkin 29%, Adam Oates 25%
     
  2. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    overpass, I remember you saying before that you thought Doug Harvey was the most important part of Montreal's PP in the 50s - more important even than Jean Beliveau in front of the net or Bernard Geoffrion's shot from the point. But I don't remember your reasoning.
     
  3. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    If I said that, I don't remember my reasoning either. I'm not sure I'm qualified to make that statement.

    I remember Canadiens1958 saying that Harvey's worth to Montreal's power play went beyond the scoring stats, as he was very good at setting everything up. That makes sense and fit with Harvey's reputation. Beliveau and Geoffrion both had more power play goals and points than Harvey. But I wouldn't know how to compare them, beyond statements from those who watched them.

    Harvey didn't score many power play goals at all, compared to modern players. According to the numbers I have from the Hockey Summary Project, he scored 38 PPG and 226 PPP from 1952-53 to the end of his career, or about 3 power play goals per season. It was obviously a different game to some degree, when the power play didn't depend on having everyone being a threat to shoot like it does today. I don't really know how to compare Harvey to modern D-men in this area. The power play has become more important in the modern game, so this comparison is not completely fair to old-timers - it's looking at them through a modern lens.

    It also complicates things that so many forwards played the point back then. Harvey has the most power play points of any defenceman in his era by a fair bit. But Bernard Geoffrion and Andy Bathgate played the point, and both scored more power play points and especially goals than Harvey. Are they a fair comparison to Harvey? Or did they play different roles? I really can't say, from this distance.
     
  4. RabbinsDuck

    RabbinsDuck Registered User

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    I might be missing a lot, but am I reading Lidstrom was about as successful as Potvin on the PP for 7 years, for •twice• the time? 14 years, and still going?
     
  5. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    Not exactly. The numbers I posted include 14 seasons for both Potvin and Lidstrom. Lidstrom was more durable within those seasons. Potvin had better individual scoring numbers and played a higher percentage of his team's power play. Their team success was similar relative to league average, but it was much easier for teams to stand out in the 70s than in the 90s and 00s.

    I also noted in the comment about Potvin that he had an excellent peak on the power play in the late 1970s, according to the stats. Lidstrom has been more consistent.

    I could see a case either way, depending on how you interpret the evidence.
     
  6. MXD

    MXD Original #4

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    I'd like to see where Andrei Markov ends up on this list...
     
  7. Hockey Outsider

    Hockey Outsider Registered User

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    Out of curiosity, how does Phil Housley rank? He's much-maligned but I'd imagine he's one of the top ten PP defensemen since expansion.
     
  8. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    Housley just missed, he would near the top of the next tier. I don't see any argument for him as the best of this group, so I didn't include him. The power play points are a little low, and his teams were only slightly above average.

    I guess you could argue for him having played with no-talent teams. But he changed teams so often that I don't really have a feel for who he played with, and have little interest in looking through all his teams.

    But since you asked...here are the numbers I ran for the next group down. These are all defencemen since 1968 with a group of seasons including at least 500 GP with 30 or more adjusted power play points per season.


    Biggest surprise for me here - no Larry Murphy. He was a good power play defencemen forever, but had no peak.

    MXD, if Andrei Markov continues his pace he will fit into this next tier, probably near the top. I have him at 35 adjusted power play points per season since the lockout. He's definitely not just a point compiler either, as he's been the constant on Montreal's excellent power play. If only he could stay healthy...
     
  9. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Kind of surprised to see no Larry Robinson, not even in the second tier, considering his reputation.
     
  10. blogofmike

    blogofmike Registered User

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    Savard is in, but I would also think the 78 Habs and the 31.88% PP would skew things enough to shoot Robinson into the second tier.

    Have these numbers already been done for forwards?
     
  11. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    Yeah, Robinson was more of an even-strength puck mover. He had a couple of big power play years in 1980 and 1986, but even cherry-picking that time period he doesn't quite make the criteria. Mark Howe was another from that era who scored his points at even strength.
     
  12. Jesus Toews*

    Jesus Toews* Guest

    I don't have anything to add but I just wanted to say that these stats are absolutely amazing and thank the OP for compiling them.
     
  13. steve141

    steve141 Registered User

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    Please define QB. Do you just mean best defenceman on the powerplay or do you mean someone who runs the powerplay?

    Current example to describe the difference: Mike Green has a great one-timer but the real QB of Washington's powerplay is Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom is the one who holds on to the puck for the longest time and sets up all the other players.

    When someone says PP QB I think Gretzky, not Coffey.
     
  14. blogofmike

    blogofmike Registered User

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    I think it's just Defencemen.

    Gretzky was the QB, and even lined up at the point beside Coffey fairly often. Daniel Alfredsson also lines up at the point for the Sens, or at least he did before Gonchar came. I can't recall where Adam Oates lined up, but you probably wouldn't mind him running the show on your team.

    Coffey was a very good QB for the Pens though.
     
  15. seventieslord

    seventieslord Student Of The Game

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    I think I would go with MacInnis. He doesn't have the best "per-game" stats in that list but he did it for 1400 games.
     
  16. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    I don't think I could decide between MacInnis, Coffey or Bourque.

    Each of them was so good in particular areas its hard to decide.

    Mac had the big shot that intimidated teams and you could almost build a powerplay around him using it to score or free up even more space because of teams concentrating on taking it away.

    Bourque was outstanding at maintaining the zone, had a very good shot and could rush the puck to gain the zone as well.

    Coffey was the best rusher out of them all for gaining the zone and had a good shot too as well as probably the best outlet pass for a quick move up the ice.

    I think ultimately which one was the best would depend on the players complementing them.
     
  17. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    For the poll, I was thinking someone who plays on the point and has primary or at least joint responsibility for running the power play. I believe all of Harvey, Potvin, Bourque, Coffey, MacInnis, Leetch, Lidstrom, and Gonchar fit that description. For the poll question, I was thinking of their overall contributions to the power play, not how closely they match the ideal of a "quarterback".

    The second list of defencemen I posted is for all defencemen on the power play, not specifically power play quarterbacks. I would not define all of those players as power play quarterbacks.

    Forwards who play the point could fit my definition, I just didn't see any as having been as good as the top defencemen. Geoffrion was the closest, but he was more of a shooter and Harvey was the main distributor. While I think players like MacInnis and Potvin were all-around threats as shooters and distributors.
     
  18. begbeee

    begbeee Registered User

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    Paul Coffey in a second. MacInnis is my second pick.
     
  19. Darrelle Lundqvist

    Darrelle Lundqvist Swagelin

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    Orr
    Bourque
    Coffey
    Lidstrom
    MacInnis
     
  20. JackSlater

    JackSlater Registered User

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    The numbers for the defencemen excluding Orr are extremely close. I will agree with a few others and go with MacInnis just based on observation. Everyone makes a big fuss over MacInnis' shot but I always felt that he was extremely adept at moving the puck into the right places in the offensive zone.
     
  21. Dark Shadows

    Dark Shadows Registered User

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    Racking up a lot of assists is not surprising for Mac. Joe Nieuwendyk was the guy who was most deadly at tipping Mac's big shots from the point. They worked so well together at that.
     
  22. Nalyd Psycho

    Nalyd Psycho Registered User

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    Yup. He was the total package in that regard. He had the big right handed shot every team covets, but combined it with heads up playmaking ability.
     
  23. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    Yeah thats true.. and Joe gets extra points just for being brave enough to stand there every power play!
     
  24. pappyline

    pappyline Registered User

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    Actually there are a lot of forwards who meet your definition of power play QB. Max bentley was one of note on those Leaf teams of the late 40's. Others who come immediately to mind are Rene Robert & Alex Delvecchio. If I give it some more thought I am sure that I can come up with others
     
  25. Dennis Bonvie

    Dennis Bonvie Registered User

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    Harvey was the only guy I didn't see play.

    Just on what I saw, I would take Leetch.
     

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