They say defense win championships. That means shutdown stars like Patrice Bergeron could be more critical than the scoring leaders they target. Who have been the most effective shutdown players through almost two full rounds of postseason action?
Analytics can help answer that question in a way that's as free of subjective opinion as possible. For example, this postseason's best shutdown players can be identified as those who:
- Play a lot of minutes, especially in the defensive zone
- Take on the top opponents
- Effectively kill penalties
- Move the shot count in his team's favor, and the scoreboard
- Are disciplined players who don't take a lot of penalties
A player's individual scoring isn't as much of a concern, but it is obviously a huge bonus when a team's shutdown player can pose an offensive threat of his own.
There are a lot of great shutdown players in the postseason, but only the 10 best were selected for this list. It includes only those who meet all the listed criteria, and have consequently had the most success in closing the door. Let's begin!
All advanced statistics are via Extra Skater or writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.