Islanders Regular Season Review via Analytics Part 2: The Defensive Pair of Mark Streit and Brian Strait

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

This is part 2 of a series of posts reviewing the Islanders' individual performances through Hockey Analytics - what some might call "Advanced Stats." If you missed it you should check out part 1, which talked about the Islanders Neutral Zone Play and can be found HERE.

In the next few parts, I'm going to start talking about Islander Defensive pairs, starting with the pair of Mark Streit and Brian Strait. Due to Strait's injury the two didn't spend a large part of the year together, but they will be discussed together below.

EDIT: I started writing this on Tuesday, and Streit was since traded to the Flyers. Given how the topic of how much we need his replacement to step up is a big one, I think the below analysis is still very important.


Defenseman Games Played Corsi%
Relative Corsi/60 Zone-Start % Quality of Competition (Relative Corsi) EV Time On Ice Offensive Neutral Zone Unblocked Shots (Fenwick) Per 60 Defensive Neutral Zone Unblocked Shots (Fenwick) Per 60 Neutral Zone Fenwick %
Mark Streit 48 49.7% (5th)
-1.4 (5th)
56.4% (2nd)
-0.040 (5th)
17.53 (4th)
33.67 49.5%
Defenseman Games Played EV Goals/60
EV Shots/60 PP Goals/60
PP Shots/60 EV Assists/60 PP Assists/60 EV Time On Ice/game PP TOI/game PK TOI/game EV Penalties Taken/60 EV Penalties Drawn/60
Mark Streit 48 0.217 (1st*)
3.26 (6th)
0.732 (3rd)
10.61 (1st*)
0.796 (2nd)
2.562 (2nd)
17.53 (4th)
3.42 (1st)
1.32 (4th)
0.6 0.4

Tables 1-2: Basic and Advanced Stats of Mark Streit
Corsi/60: Shots +/- using ALL Shots - so the statistic is (Blocked+Missed+On Goal Shots) For - (Blocked+Missed+On Goal Shots) Against per 60 while a player is on the ice.
Relative Corsi/60: A Player's Corsi/60 MINUS the Team's Corsi/60 while he's not on the ice.
Zone-Start %:
The percentage of faceoffs you're on the ice that are in the offensive zone (not including neutral zone faceoffs)
Quality of Competition (Relative Corsi):
A measure of the skill of the average opposing player on the ice. (Basically it's the average Relative Corsi of the opposing players on the ice while this player was on the ice.)

RANKINGS: You'll note that next to some stats, I have ranks (1st, 4th, 5th, etc.), which refer to how those #s compare to the other Isles D-Men.* So Streit was 5th in Competition faced at EV, but 1st in goals per 60 at EV.

*The astute amongst you may note I've cheated here, and the leader in EV Goals/60 among D Men isn't Streit, but Radek Martinek. But that's such a small sample fluke I'm not counting it.


Mark Streit's always been known for his offense. And at least on the surface, it appears that his offense was still intact, at least in the scoring department. Streit was 1st among our defensemen in EV goals and was 2nd in EV assists (to Mr. Strait as you'll note below). For a D-Man, those are pretty impressive #s - after all, usually a D Man's points come mainly on the power play, but Streit got over half of his production from the Even Strength results.

That said, the EV Goals/60 is a bit fluky for Streit - his EV Shooting % was up more than double its usual rate this year (even with only 3 goals!). Streit was on pace for as many EV goals this year as he had in his amazing first season with the Isles, which seems suspect. His assist rate however, was right in line with his career norms so that seems legitimate. So at EV scoring wise, Streit probably contributes 2-3 less goals at EV next year (figure 3 instead of the 5-6 he was on pace for) but a similar amount of assists is likely.

On the Power Play, Streit's #s look good, but they're actually down from his first two years as an Islander, though up from last year (when Streit's PP performance was not great). It should be noted for the Isles that Streit wasnt the best point-scorer amongst Isles D-Men, that was Lubomir Visnovsky, who will take more of Streit's role on the power play next year. Travis Hamonic was also not far from Streit on the Power Player per 60 minutes, so really, if Matt Donovan can come in and put up okay #s on 2nd pair D Power Play, the drop off shouldn't be huge.

Now I said Streit was known for his offense previously, but really, prior to this year he was a strong possession player for the Islanders all around. In previous years, even last year, he was highly successful at driving possession the right direction. And this was despite often carrying guys like Bruno Gervais - who may be on his team next year (not likely really, Chef Bruno is a free agent)! But that changed this year.

In fact the team was better in possession with him off the ice than on it (by 2.2 shots per 60). (Previously, Streit was strongly positive). And this is despite easier minutes - Streit's forward line mates were above average and he had more offensive zone starts than defensive ones. And the neutral zone data seems to confirm this: With Streit on the ice, the Isles slightly lost the Neutral Zone.

Is this a sign of Streit's decline coming fast? I think not - I think the decline is overblown. Streit used to be able to carry poor defensive zone partners. But not anymore - when Streit was with Carkner or Joe Finley, the team's neutral zone #s were terrible despite the fact that Streit is a REALLY REALLY good puckmover. (The team has a positive possession # with Carkner and Streit together, but I consider that likely a fluke since the zone entry data reveals that's entirely due to offensive zone play of the team with that duo on the ice, and Carkner is unlikely to be the type of guy who helps offensive zone performance over a long run) When Streit was with Brian Strait however, the teams' neutral zone #s were extremely good (52.7% NZ) even if their possession #s were middling.

In short the Neutral Zone WOWY #s suggest that Streit is still a good possession player, due to his great neutral zone play, but he needs to have a partner who can give him some reasonable amount of help (Carkner and Finley gave essentially no help in the neutral zone and both were terrible).

As a result, if Streit can be given a decent (read: Not dead-weight) linemate next year, Streit could again be a plus possession player for the Flyers and his offensive abilities make him certainly a very quality player. How long thisll last is debateable, but he still can be a pretty good D-Man.

How will the Isles make do without him? Well note that Streit, while still a good D-Man, can no longer carry dead weight partners without seeing negative effects. And remember that we made the playoffs this year despite Streit HAVING TO DO JUST THAT. So the Streit the Isles are replacing isn't the guy who can be good if he has Brian Strait all 82 games, but the one who had Matt Carkner and Joe Finley for 25 games+. That can be dealt with (particularly if you play those guys less, but we'll get to that later). So the loss for the Isles isn't as great as you might expect, especially with improvements coming in other areas.


Defenseman Games Played Corsi%
Relative Corsi/60 Zone-Start % Quality of Competition (Relative Corsi) EV Time On Ice Offensive Neutral Zone Unblocked Shots (Fenwick) Per 60 Defensive Neutral Zone Unblocked Shots (Fenwick) Per 60 Neutral Zone Fenwick %
Brian Strait
19 50.5% (4th)
+2.2 (T-3rd)
58.8% (1st)
0.682 (3rd)
14.95 (7th)
33.23 51.4%
Defenseman Games Played EV Goals/60
EV Shots/60
PP Goals/60 PP Shots/60
EV Assists/60 PP Assists/60 EV Time On Ice/game PP TOI/game PK TOI/game EV Penalties Taken/60 EV Penalties Drawn/60
Brian Strait
19 0 (T-Last)
2.54 N/A
N/A 0.848 (1st)
14.95 (7th)
1.58 (3rd)
1.1 0

Tables 3 and 4: The Statistics of Brian Strait


We have limited data on Strait due to his injury, so take the rankings with a grain of salt regarding scoring and assists. The possession #s always made me skeptical that Strait really was anything more than a meh 3rd pair defenseman - better than Mottau/Eaton/Staios for sure, but those are way too low standards. And he's not much of a scorer anyhow, though in his tiny sample he had a good assist rate (which he didn't in the AHL so don't take that for much).

His possession #s show a guy who, with easy zone-starts made the team just better than the team was without him on the ice, and that effect becomes basically nothing when you account for zone-starts. More concerningly, he took a decent # of penalties and never drew any, which is often a sign of an overmatched defenseman (ala Steve Staios). By contrast, Streit took less penalties and drew a bunch to counteract the ones the took.

That said, the neutral zone #s suggest Strait's possession #s may have been a little bit of bad luck. Strait's a decent puck carrier - nothing special - but the team was strong in the neutral zone with him on the ice, with a pretty good neutral zone fenwick of 51.4%. In other words, it's likely that his possession #s will improve next year simply due to luck balancing out, and he'll show up as an above average 3rd pair guy or average 2nd pair. We shall see.

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