Defensive Pairings: A Closer Look At Last Season

The Carolina Hurricanes are pretty much finished making any roster moves for the coming season.  As far as the blueline goes, all but one player will be back from last year's team. 

There was some discussion here at Canes Country last week about prospective defensive pairings, so I thought it would be worthwhile to review last year's pairings, along with some of their stats, in hopes that it could give us some insight as to what the coaching staff might be looking at this fall.

Coming up, the top pairings of last season.

(All charts generated at DobberHockey.com)

First, we'll look at the top scoring combos at even strength.  The number one pairing might surprise some of you.

Str On Ice Line Combination Points
EV MCBAIN,JAMIE - PITKANEN,JONI 21
EV CORVO,JOSEPH - GLEASON,TIM 18
EV PITKANEN,JONI - WHITE,IAN 8
EV CORVO,JOSEPH - PITKANEN,JONI 8
EV GLEASON,TIM - MCBAIN,JAMIE 5
EV CARSON,BRETT - HARRISON,JAY 4
EV BABCHUK,ANTON - PITKANEN,JONI 4
EV HARRISON,JAY - MCBAIN,JAMIE 3
EV BABCHUK,ANTON - HARRISON,JAY 3
EV HARRISON,JAY - WHITE,IAN 3
EV JOSLIN,DEREK - PITKANEN,JONI 3
EV HARRISON,JAY - JOSLIN,DEREK 3


Jamie McBain and Joni Pitkanen teamed up for the most points, even though they had considerably less even strength ice time than Tim Gleason and Joe Corvo.  It is important to note though that Gleason and Corvo were usually on the ice against the other team's top line. 

Still, Gleason and Corvo teamed up for a total +/-(-25) while Pitkanen and McBain combined for a +/-(-10).

Next up is a listing of the percentages of total time that the pairings were on the ice together at even strength.

Frequency Strength Line Combination
22.38% EV 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 6 GLEASON,TIM
15.41% EV 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
8.49% EV 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
7.43% EV 25 PITKANEN,JONI - 7 WHITE,IAN
5.78% EV 6 GLEASON,TIM - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
5.42% EV 44 HARRISON,JAY - 7 WHITE,IAN
4.84% EV 44 HARRISON,JAY - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
3.28% EV 33 BABCHUK,ANTON - 44 HARRISON,JAY
3.01% EV 6 GLEASON,TIM - 44 HARRISON,JAY
2.9% EV 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 44 HARRISON,JAY
2.67% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK


Now, let's look at powerplay pairings.

 

Frequency Strength Line Combination
33.03% PP 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
13.93% PP 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
7.65% PP 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
7.19% PP 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 6 GLEASON,TIM
3.9% PP 33 BABCHUK,ANTON - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
3.7% PP 25 PITKANEN,JONI - 7 WHITE,IAN
3.65% PP 6 GLEASON,TIM - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
2.89% PP 77 CORVO,JOSEPH

 

While McBain was paired up a lot with Pitkanen at even strength, he was primarily paired with Corvo with the man advantage.  One interesting fact, Corvo was the only defenseman on the ice during the powerplay, 2.89% of the time.  

Obviously, Corvo and Pitkanen accumulated most of the points as a powerplay pairing.  They were on the ice together 33% of the time while with the man advantage. 

Str On Ice Line Combination Points
PP CORVO,JOSEPH - PITKANEN,JONI 23
PP CORVO,JOSEPH - MCBAIN,JAMIE 10
PP MCBAIN,JAMIE - PITKANEN,JONI 4
PP PITKANEN,JONI - WHITE,IAN 3
PP BABCHUK,ANTON - MCBAIN,JAMIE 3
PP CORVO,JOSEPH - GLEASON,TIM 1

 

Next, let's see who each individual defenseman was paired up with the most, in all situations.

Pitkanen spent most of his ice time, (35%) matched up with McBain.

Frequency Strength Line Combination
35.53% EV 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
19.58% EV 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
17.13% EV 25 PITKANEN,JONI - 7 WHITE,IAN
8.26% PP 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
3.51% EV 33 BABCHUK,ANTON - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
2.04% EV 44 HARRISON,JAY - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
1.94% EV 33 JOSLIN,DEREK - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
1.91% PP 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE - 25 PITKANEN,JONI

 

Gleason was paired up with Corvo for over 60% of his total time on the ice, (including shorthanded time).  He will need to find a new comfort zone this coming season.

Frequency Strength Line Combination
52.02% EV 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 6 GLEASON,TIM
13.43% EV 6 GLEASON,TIM - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
8.32% SH 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 6 GLEASON,TIM
6.99% EV 6 GLEASON,TIM - 44 HARRISON,JAY
5.1% EV 6 GLEASON,TIM - 7 WHITE,IAN
2.08% EV 33 BABCHUK,ANTON - 6 GLEASON,TIM
1.81% PP 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 6 GLEASON,TIM
1.4% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 6 GLEASON,TIM

 

Of course, McBain spent most of his ice time with Pitkanen, but he also spent a decent amount of time with Gleason.  It would be interesting to know if Gleason's plus/minus stat was better while paired with Corvo or McBain.  We'll try to find that out.

Frequency Strength Line Combination
44.51% EV 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
16.69% EV 6 GLEASON,TIM - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
13.99% EV 44 HARRISON,JAY - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
4.36% PP 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
2.4% PP 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
2.33% EV 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
2.14% EV 33 JOSLIN,DEREK - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
1.81% EV 27 CARSON,BRETT - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
1.43% SH 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE - 25 PITKANEN,JONI

 

Jay Harrison spent his time mixed between several players, but also got considerable experience playing with McBain.

Frequency Strength Line Combination
20.45% EV 44 HARRISON,JAY - 7 WHITE,IAN
18.28% EV 44 HARRISON,JAY - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
12.37% EV 33 BABCHUK,ANTON - 44 HARRISON,JAY
11.36% EV 6 GLEASON,TIM - 44 HARRISON,JAY
10.94% EV 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 44 HARRISON,JAY
5.1% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 44 HARRISON,JAY
3.34% EV 44 HARRISON,JAY - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
3.09% EV 27 CARSON,BRETT - 44 HARRISON,JAY
2.74% SH 44 HARRISON,JAY - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
1.72% SH 6 GLEASON,TIM - 44 HARRISON,JAY

 

Newcomer, Bryan Allen was paired mostly with the other newcomer, Derek Joslin.  Much of this time probably occurred when Harrison was out with an injury.  The duo was the third pairing, but they played well off each other.   Interestingly, while the coaching staff tried to sometimes match up Allen with Corvo, he and Pitkanen saw very little time together.

 

Frequency Strength Line Combination
35.35% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
17.89% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 44 HARRISON,JAY
15.13% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 77 CORVO,JOSEPH
8% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 6 GLEASON,TIM
6.11% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
5.24% SH 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
4.73% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 25 PITKANEN,JONI

 

After Allen, Joslin spent a good amount of time with Pitkanen and McBain.

Frequency Strength Line Combination
36.38% EV 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
11.45% EV 33 JOSLIN,DEREK - 25 PITKANEN,JONI
10.1% EV 33 JOSLIN,DEREK - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
8.53% EV 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
5.61% EV 6 GLEASON,TIM - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
5.39% SH 5 ALLEN,BRYAN - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
4.42% EV 44 HARRISON,JAY - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
3.44% PP 6 GLEASON,TIM - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
3.44% EV 27 CARSON,BRETT - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
3.22% PP 77 CORVO,JOSEPH - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK
1.8% PP 33 JOSLIN,DEREK - 4 MCBAIN,JAMIE
1.8% SH 6 GLEASON,TIM - 33 JOSLIN,DEREK



So, what does all this mean?  It's hard to ignore the fact that Pitkanen and McBain had some success together, although that does not necessarily mean that they should move up to be the number one pairing.  But they show promise and McBain should continue to improve.  It would probably make sense to keep them together again this coming season, at least to start off. 

That means newcomer Tomas Kaberle will probably be matched with Gleason.  And based upon last year's numbers, Joslin and Allen will probably be the third pairing, with Harrison needing to beat Joslin out. 

But of course, training camp is where this all gets sorted out for real.

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