Some Chicago Blackhawk fans have invaded SCOC of late, touting their team's defensive prowess, even saying it's "arguably the best in the league". But is it really? How exactly does it stack up against the Bruins defense? Let's have a look at the actual stats and find out:
Zdeno Chara vs Brent Seabrook:
While many people think that Duncan Keith is Chicago's top defenseman; in fact he is not. Brent Seabrook is a far better defenseman in terms of hits, blocked shots, shooting percentage and all around defensive ability. He also happens to have 5 more goals this season than Duncan Keith, although Keith has many more assists. Brent had quite comparible numbers to Zdeno Chara this season, in fact, he had 1 more goal, 5 more hits, and 39 more blocked shots than Zdeno, while playing 1 less game. Both had 3 PP goals, and Zdeno had one more GWG than Seabrook's one GWG.
Slight edge to Seabrook.
Dennis Seidenberg vs Duncan Keith:
Boston and Chicago's No. 2 defensemen are almost as different as day and night. Keith is a high-flying offensive type, while Seidenberg is a solid, hard checking stalwart in his own end. But the numbers reveal some interesting facts:
While as to be expected, Duncan Keith has 10 more points than Dennis Seidenberg, Dennis actually got one more goal this past season than Duncan. Dennis put up a respectable 4 goals and 17 points and was a +18, two points better than Duncan Keith, while seeing a lot less time on the PP than Duncan. Where there is a glaring difference though, is in the hits and blocked shots columns. Seidenberg had 115 hits and 115 blocked shots, compared to Keith's 19 hits and 66 blocked shots.
Scoring edge to Keith. Huge physical edge to Seidenberg.
Dougie Hamilton vs Nick Leddy:
Dougie Hamilton played six less games than Nick Leddy this past season, yet only had one less goal and one less assist than Leddy. I think it's fair to say that he's already Leddy's equal offensively, even though he's a rookie and Leddy has had two more NHL seasons under his belt than Dougie. Dougie had significantly more hits than Nick, racking up 59 hits to Nick's 38, while blocking only 6 less shots than Leddy.
Edge to Hamilton; comparible stats, with superior physicality on Dougie's side.
Andrew Ference vs Johnny Oduya:
Andrew Ference's 4 goals was one better than Johnny Oduya scored this past season, while notching the equal number of assists at 9. Oduya was a bit better at blocking shots, recording 79 to Ference's 60. The hits were no contest however, with Andrew racking up 89 hits, compared to Oduya's 24.
Clear edge to Ference. Equal in scoring, far better physically.
Johnny Boychuk vs Michal Rozsival:
Michal Roszival had twice as many points as Boychuk this past season, despite playing 18 less games. All of his points were assists though, while Johnny recorded one goal in the regular season. I think it's fair to say that Johnny is nowhere near Michal in the offensive department. However, in the physical department, it's a different story. Boychuk registered 79 hits and 87 blocked shots, compared to Rozsival's 44 hits and 28 blocked shots. Even factoring in the extra games played, Johnny is clearly head and shoulders better than Rozsival when it comes to the physical game.
Offensive edge to Rozsival. Physical edge to Boychuk. (Are we starting to see a pattern here, guys?)
Adam McQuaid vs Niklas Hjalmarsson:
Adam played 14 less games than Hjalmarsson this past season due to injury, but wasn't too far behind Niklas in the scoring department, only scoring six less points. Neither are offensive world-beaters. Hjalmarsson is a world-class shot blocker, and racked up 94 blocked shots this past season. McQuaid is no sloach in that department either, recording 43 blocked shots. Adam has a huge advantage over Niklas in the hits department, racking up 63 hits compared to Hjalmarsson's 26.
Edge in blocked shots to Hjalmarsson. Huge edge in physicality to McQuaid.
Boston has several good defensemen in reserve who can step into the lineup at any time and play very well. Torey Krug has been the biggest plus in that department during these playoffs, and has pretty much cemented his future as a starter this upcoming season. In 9 playoff games, Krug has amassed 4 goals and 2 assists, has recorded 9 hits and 13 blocked shots, and is a plus 5.
Wade Redden has been rarely utilized in the playoffs, but has played well in the regular season for the Bruins and is also a solid defenseman. His regular season stats, split between St. Louis and Boston, amount to 3 goals and 4 assists, with 16 hits and 30 blocked shots, over 29 games played with a minus 2 (from the St. Louis' side). In the first round vs Toronto, Wade recorded 1 goal and 1 assist, with 9 hits and 5 blocked shots, and was a plus 2.
Matt Bartkowski is also an excellant depth defenseman for the Bruins. In 11 regular season games for the Bruins this past season, he recorded 2 assists, 11 hits and 3 blocked shots. He stepped up his game in the playoffs, scoring a goal and an assist over 7 games played, while recording 21 hits and 4 blocked shots.
Chicago's depth pales by comparison. Their best depth defenseman is Sheldon Brookbank, who was inserted for Duncan Keith when he got suspended. Sheldon is pretty much a career AHL player, about on par with Trent Whitfield. The other two that the Blackhawks have in reserve are Ryan Stanton and Shawn Lalonde, Both of whom played one regular season game for the Blackhawks vs the St. Louis Blues back in late April, basically a meaningless game for the Hawks.
Huge edge in depth to the Bruins.
So who's the better defense? Does an offensive edge from your defensemen win championships, or does a physical edge? The Bruins clearly have the dominant physical defensive corps, yet still are not bad in the scoring department either. Depth is also very important in the NHL playoffs, and again, the Bruins hold a big advantage in that department. I simply cannot see a slightly better scoring talent on D making up for Chicago's sorely lacking deficit vs the Bruins in the physical department. It's clear to me that the Bruins have the better defense corp.