A player's abilities to clear the puck out of the defensive-zone, and by extension limit turnovers, is one of the ways to judge a player's ability to limit the time his team spends in the defensive-zone; less time spent in the defensive-zone should translate to fewer scoring chances for the opposition. A player with possession of the puck in the defensive-zone has 3 main options; he can pass the puck to a teammate, beat an opposing player 1on1 with a deke, or dump the puck out of the defensive-zone. The graph below is a visual representation of every Montreal Canadiens skater's success-rate when engaging in one of these events. The calculation allows us to quantify each player's ability to avoid giveaways in the defensive-zone, while also moving the play closer to the opposition's net. The events used in this calculation include:
- Successful defensive-zone passes
- Failed defensive-zone passes
- Successful defensive-zone dekes
- Failed defensive-zone dekes
- Successful dump-outs (puck gets outside of defensive-zone)
- failed dump-ins (puck is intercepted by opposition player within defensive-zone)
- Failed pass-receptions (player mis-handles pass from teammate inside d-zone)
The Canadiens most efficient player when in a position to move the puck out of the defensive-zone was Tomas Kaberle. That said, the issue with Kaberle remains his inability to remove puck-possession from the opposition. Once Kaberle had the puck on his stick, he was successful with a team-leading 77% of his defensive-zone pass-attempts. He was successful with 63% of his attempts to beat opposing players 1on1, and led all defensemen with a 74% success-rate when attempting to safely dump the puck out of the defensive-zone.
Other defensemen with success-rates above 72% include, PK Subban, Josh Gorges, and Andrei Markov. The lowest success-rate when attempting to safely move the puck out of the defensive-zone belonged to Frederic St. Denis.
Keeping with the theme of turning perceptions upside down, the forward with top success-rate when attempting to move the puck out of the defensive-zone was Scott Gomez. Again, like Kaberle, the issue with Gomez remains acquiring puck-possession from the opposition. Once Gomez has the puck on his stick, he was successful with an impressive 76% of his defensive-zone passes, and 59% of his dekes. He was also successful with 53% of his attempts to successfully dump the puck out of the defensive-zone.
The only other forwards with success-rates above the team average of 67% were David Desharnais and Lars Eller. Both forward were among the team-leaders in defensive-zone passing-percentage, while Eller led all forewards with a 63% success-rate when attempting to beat opposing players 1on1 (deke).
The lowest success-rate while in possession of the puck in the defensive-zone was earned by Michael Blunden. Other players with low percentages include; Louis Leblanc, and former Canadiens winger Andrei Kostitsyn. Leblanc (a natural centre) struggled with his board-play in the defensive-zone. He was only successful with 62% of his d-zone passes and 43% of his attempted dekes.