Whether it's Shea Weber in Nashville, Zdeno Chara in Boston or Ryan Suter in Minnesota, a top shutdown defenseman can make all the difference in today's NHL. To which blue liner does each team turn when the game is on the line?
Hockey analytics can help find the answer. For example, we can see who the top shutdown defenseman is on each team, who they play against, in what zone, with what partner and how much penalty killing they do.
Most of the statistics used comes from the excellent Behind the Net web site, which I have averaged over the past three years to be sure each defenseman is consistently behind used in the top role.
The list of top opponents is from Hockey Analysis, from which I've selected the top players they've lined up against so far this season.
Very often, it is possible to predict which teams will finish the season atop the standings by those who have the defensemen who can best protect late leads. With that in mind, let's see which shut down defensemen each team has primarily employed.
All advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.