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Posted at 2:49 PM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Statistical analysis: A closer look at Dennis Wideman's plus-minus rating

By Neil Greenberg
Statistical analysis

In an effort to provide the team some insurance against a prolonged absence of Tom Poti and Mike Green, the Caps acquired Dennis Wideman from Florida for a third-round pick in 2011 and a prospect. Wideman is a puck-moving defensemen who can clearly help on Washington's ailing power play, but some fans seem hung up on the negative plus-minus he has racked up over the past two years as an indication of his poor defensive ability. From an individual performance standpoint, it's not as bad as it looks.

A significant factor in a player's plus-minus rating is the quality of his team. Take a look at Wideman at even strength over the past few seasons, data courtesy of Behind the Net.

Season GP +/- Corsi Rel QoT On ice Sv%
2007-08 81 11 0.938 .926
2008-09 79 32 0.224 .933
2009-10 76 -14 0.068 .917
2010-11 62 -24 (0.012) .888

See the trend? As Wideman has played with worse teammates (Corsi Rel QoT) and the goalies behind him performed worse (On ice Sv%), his plus minus took a nose dive. Did Wideman suddenly forget how to play defense? Of course not, but his team support has sure been worse.

Here is where he would rank among Washington's blueliners who have played more than 40 games this season:

Defenseman Corsi Rel QoT On ice Sv%
Alzner 1.393 .931
Green 0.579 .926
Carlson 0.664 .925
Schultz 1.992 .925
Erskine (0.797) .919
Hannan 0.797 .915
Wideman (0.012) .888

Going forward, Wideman should expect to see better defensive support on the team level, which will surely impact his individual performance -- and plus-minus -- in a positive way.

By Neil Greenberg  | March 2, 2011; 2:49 PM ET
Categories:  Dennis Wideman, Statistical analysis  
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Comments

Neil: Good stuff. You might want to revieew this stuff come April 11th. I am thinking the Hannan-Wideman pairing will do well.

Also, you want want to put a package of your statistics that shows which shots in hockey have the best scoring percentage. Send that package to:

Kettler Ice Rink
Arlington, VA

c/o B. Boudreau

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 2, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I think Hannan and Wideman would be a solid pairing. Keep them together so they can develop some familiarity and consistency. Definitely keep Alzner and Carlson together. And when Green comes back I'd put him with Shultz. I love the way Erskine has played this year, but I don't think Erskine and Green would make a good pairing. Plus with the familiarity that Green and Shultz have together, it would make sense to put them together. Let Wideman and Green run the point on the Power play and let Alzner and Carlson focus on playing shutdown defense like they're capable of doing. Keep Sloan and Poti off the ice.

Posted by: dcox50 | March 2, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

These numbers don't really mean anything by themselves. You would have to compare them to the other members on his teams at the time.

For instance, Neil basically states that Wideman's +/- is lower because he plays with worse pairings and has worse goalies behind him. But these stats dont' exist in a vaccum. There's no accounting for things like if he screws up and turns the puck over for a breakaway, or he's horribly out of position. Not all goals when calculating SV% are created Equal.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 2, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

VTDuffman knows what's up. +/- is a crappy stat. All the forwards got a - on Carlson's turnover last night. What does that say about their D zone skills?

Posted by: GFisher1 | March 2, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Neil: Good stuff. You might want to revieew this stuff come April 11th. I am thinking the Hannan-Wideman pairing will do well.

Also, you want want to put a package of your statistics that shows which shots in hockey have the best scoring percentage. Send that package to:

Kettler Ice Rink
Arlington, VA

c/o B. Boudreau

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 2, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

That was funny.

Posted by: Bricucci1 | March 2, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Of course Washington fans focus on the negative! That's what they (we) do. Florida lets in a lot of goals, and when Wideman leads the team in ice time, he gonna be on for a bunch of those tallies.

I was more interested in his offensive numbers -- his 9 goals now leads the Caps defense. He led the Panthers in assists, and ranks 3rd on the Caps. He was 2nd in Florida in points! For me, the proof is in the pudding -- he was one of the best defenders on the ice last night, and cleared the crease better than anyone the Caps have had in a long time.

What no one has mentioned is that Wideman is not a rental player. He is signed through the 2012 season. This move has really bolstered DC's defense not just for this season, but for next season too.

Posted by: firehorse | March 2, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't really buy the on ice save percentage. There's no way the goalies are to blame considering the goalies he's been playing in front of consist of Tim Thomas, Tuuka Rask, and Thomas Vokoun all of which are elite level goaltenders. To me this is more of an indication that he leaves his goalies out to dry. Now I'm not saying that that is the case, it's just the problem with overdone statistics, they just don't mean anything.

Posted by: dcfury | March 2, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

We all agree that the stat nerd here and Katie need to be fired IMMEDIATELY!!!!! Neither one of the those two can write to save their lives (and hopefully their jobs pretty soon). They are both ten million times worse then Jason Reid was on Redskins Insider and he was moved off it because he was so awful. Neither one ever writes anything that would require them to leave their house. This stat nerd just surfs the internet all day and Katoe just waits until the Hockey Network reports something on tv and then 30 minutes later she'll post something. It's just damn lazy is what it is. Can we get some real reporters in this place??

Posted by: lasthe | March 3, 2011 2:06 AM | Report abuse

@lasthe I'm a stat geek. HUGE difference. http://www.buzzfeed.com/scott/nerd-venn-diagram

-Neil

Posted by: NeilRMNB | March 3, 2011 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Neil,

Stats are a science, hockey is an art. Don't confuse the two.

Furthermore, defense is a team activity requiring contributions from the G to the Ds to the Fs. Poor team defense, as frequently displayed in FLA, will drive down a D's +/- and G's SV%. Strong team defense, frequently displayed in BOS, will improve D's +/- and G's SV%. I believe your statistical relations above to be spurious.

P.S. Hockey is an art.

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | March 3, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Neil,

Stats are a science, hockey is an art. Don't confuse the two.

Furthermore, defense is a team activity requiring contributions from the G to the Ds to the Fs. Poor team defense, as frequently displayed in FLA, will drive down a D's +/- and G's SV%. Strong team defense, frequently displayed in BOS, will improve D's +/- and G's SV%. I believe your statistical relations above to be spurious.

P.S. Hockey is an art.

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | March 3, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

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