A loose puck is defined as any puck not currently being controlled by any player on the ice. This statistic also takes into account ice-time. Therefore the resulting number is based on how many puck-recoveries a player earns for every minute they are on the ice. Short-handed and powerplay recoveries are not taken into account, as this statistic is based solely on even-strength play. Players who do well in this category generally demonstrate good speed, the ability to support the puck-carrier in either zone, and hockey-sense. A player can earn a loose-puck recovery multiple ways. Here are a few examples:
- Puck support (recovering a loose puck after first player pins opposition against the boards)
- Grab control of a rebound following a shot on net
- Win a puck-race to a loose-puck
Max Pacioretty leads the team in offensive-zone puck-recoveries. Many of number 67's recoveries come off face-offs. Pacioretty's speed and strong stick allow him to recover many loose-pucks off "dead draws". Other players with many loose-puck recoveries include Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn, Aaron Palushaj, Andreas Engqvist, Erik Cole, and Lars Eller.
Among forwards, Travis Moen and Michael Blunden have the fewest puck-recoveries.
PK Subban leads all players in defensive-zone puck-recoveries. Like Pacioretty, many of Subban's recoveries come off faceoffs. The Habs set play on defensive-zone faceoffs sees the board-side d-man collapse into the faceoff circle and carry the puck behind the net. Subban is a favourite of Jacques Martin when this situation arises.
Newcomer Frederick St. Denis has played few games, so his results should be taken with a grain of salt. Among players with substantial ice-time, Raphael Diaz and Josh Gorges have the fewest d-zone recoveries. Diaz seems to lose many loose-puck races he engages in, sometimes hesitating to be the first man to the puck. Gorges strength is to stay on the defensive-side of opposition players, this often makes it difficult for number 26 to get to loose pucks along the boards.
Subban and Jaroslav Spacek lead the defense in neutral zone puck-recoveries, while Andreas Engqvist leads the forwards.
Still in its infancy, the loose-puck recovery stat is an interesting experiment. There is no doubt that a player's ability to recover loose-pucks is a valuable asset to any team. That said, at this point it creates some interesting questions as to why certain players produce more recoveries than their teammates.