The Top Shutdown Forward on Every NHL Team's Roster for the 2013-14 Season

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The Top Shutdown Forward on Every NHL Team's Roster for the 2013-14 Season
Andre Ringuette/Getty Images

While goalies and defensemen obviously have the greater responsibility in preventing scoring, the best defensive forwards can make all the difference. For example, take last year's Eastern Conference Finals when the key to Boston's victory was how their solid defensive forwards helped to completely shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

While not every team is loaded with forwards who excel in their own zone like the Bruins, each franchise has one front-line player who stands above his teammates when it comes to handling defensive duties. Can some recent analytics help find them? 

Quality of competition statistics as well as looking at a player's most frequent opponents will reveal who is trusted to shut down the league's best, while offensive zone starts shed light on how they are deployed defensively. The percentage of all penalty-killing minutes assigned to each player (over the past three seasons) will help complete the picture by pointing out who is relied upon in purely defensive situations.
Using nothing but these statistics, we will figure out which forwards today's stars should expect to face when the game is tight, giving us an idea of which teams can best protect a lead. 

In the days of Bob Gainey we relied purely on reputation to find the league's top players. With today's analytics, which players defensive reputations will be confirmed and which new defensive gems can be found?


Data sources:

Most frequent opponents:

Offensive zone starts, quality of competition:

Both sources draw directly from the NHL game files.

All other advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted. 

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