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Canadiens vs Rangers – The Warmup – No changes to defense pairings?

I’ve been harping on the defense pairings that Therrien has assembled so far this season for awhile now, and the news that they aren’t being changed after the debacle against the Islanders honestly confuses the hell out of me.

When looking at defense pairings, I think it’s pretty obvious that the ideal scenario is that the two players compliment each other. So it follows that a player’s possession metrics should improve when paired with a player that compliments their skill set. Is this true of the Canadiens‘ current pairings? Let’s find out using even strength Corsi% numbers with and without each other.

First pairing – Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin

Markov and Emelin’s Corsi together Markov’s Corsi without Emelin Emelin’s Corsi without Markov
52.9% 46.6% 52.4%

Markov and Emelin have come under fire a little recently for a step down in play, probably because Markov has been played too much and against competition that’s a little too tough for him to handle, but both players produced better results with each other than without each other, and they’re still positive overall.

Markov and Emelin clearly compliment each other, they get a PASS.

Second pairing – Josh Gorges and Raphael Diaz

Gorges and Diaz’s Corsi together Gorges’ Corsi without Diaz Diaz’s Corsi without Gorges
46.1% 49.2% 50.0%

This is the pairing I’ve been getting on the most lately, and this seems to justify exactly what I’ve been saying. Both players are better without the other. Diaz is not the right player to compliment Gorges’ game.

Gorges and Diaz inhibit each other’s games and are the team’s worst possession pairing, they get a FAIL.

Third pairing – Francis Bouillon and P.K. Subban

Bouillon and Subban’s Corsi together Bouillon’s Corsi without Subban Subban’s Corsi without Bouillon
53.5% 54.3% 75.0%

This is also a clearly unsuccessful pairing. Subban’s incredible skill is carrying Bouillon relatively well, but the increased difficulty in zone starts is mitigating this positive effect. Subban’s half of a game’s worth of ice time (11.72 minutes) without Bouillon was downright dominant, a remind of how ridiculously good of a player he is.

Subban makes Bouillon a better player, but Bouillon drags Subban down a lot and this usage is a waste of Subban’s skill level, this pairing gets a FAIL.

The solution seems simple, swap Diaz and Subban around. But why isn’t Therrien doing it?

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