Hardest working forwards, goalies in the NHL
Earlier this evening, PHT pondered defensemen who carry big burdens from a variety of standpoints to celebrate Labor Day. Let’s wrap up the thematic fun by pondering some goalies and forwards who can be considered workhorses, too.
Busy in net
Many of these studies will go with the 2013-14 to 2016-17 range, but Cam Talbot’s 2016-17 campaign deserves a mention because he really stood out in blowing everyone else away from a quantity standpoint while providing commendable quality.
Talbot topped all goalies with 73 games played, with Frederik Andersen coming in distant second at 66. Those weren’t breezy outings, either, as Talbot and Andersen both stood out in facing and stopping the most shots on goal.
Talbot: 1,946 saves, 2,117 shots faced
Andersen: 1,883 saves, 2,052 shots faced
No other goalie faced 2,000 SOG in 2016-17l Robin Lehner came in third with 1,910, while every other netminder was at 1,854 (Sergei Bobrovsky) or fewer.
What about that 2013-14 to 2016-17 range, though?
Only two goalies faced at least 7,000 shots: Tuukka Rask: 7,116 and Braden Holby: 7,011. A few names in the 6,000+ SOG range (15 goalies) are interesting because they seemed to face more pucks in a given night. Mike Smith came in fifth with 6,566 in 211 games and Ryan Miller faced 6,454 in 209 games, whereas other top guys were in that range with 230-250 GP.
Naturally, Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Crawford, Rask, and Holtby deserve special mention because they’ve seen a lot of postseason reps, too.
You can check out who comes in on top in sheer penalty-killing time from 2013-14 to 2016-17 here, but considering all-around duties is especially interesting for forwards.
During that span, Ryan Kesler logged the second-most PK time (789:32), logging 2:28 shorthanded time on ice per contest. He’s rare in being important on the power play (2:43 minutes per game) and even strength (15:19).
Kesler began just 33.4 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone versus a whopping 66.6 in the defensive zone, following up 2015-16’s escalation with an even more extreme disparity. Kesler’s managed impressive possession stats considering his usage, and he’s a hoss in the faceoff circle to boot.
Sean Couturier is another name that pops out, to little surprise. His 709:02 penalty-kill time ranks fifth, and while his zone starts aren’t as outrageous as Kesler, Couturier is still clearly being used as a stopper. Even if he levels out at his current offensive and defensive standards, he could really help the Flyers in crunch-time situations.
Patrice Bergeron enjoyed more of an offensive role (54.7 percent of his shifts started in the attacking zone in 2016-17, a significant departure), but he’s a perennial Selke contender for good reason. Bergeron is in the mix from a PK standpoint and truly stands out as a dominant faceoff-winner. He won the most draws (and almost 60 percent of them) from 2013-14 to 2016-17 and only trails Kesler when it comes to winning faceoffs in shorthanded situations. It’s also difficult to overstate just how much of a possession monster the guy is, whether he’s in more defensive situations or friendlier offensive scenarios.
Those three forwards are among the cream of the crop, but some other names deserve a mention: Adam Henrique, Tomas Plekanec, Frans Nielsen, and Anze Kopitar earn their reputations as versatile pivots.
Anyway, consider the players above to be a snapshot of some of the forwards and goalies who serve as the glue that holds teams together.
By no means is this a comprehensive study, as you can also consider shot blocking and penalties drawn as pieces of the puzzle. Again, you can check out defensemen who stand out in similar ways in this post from earlier today.