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By The Numbers: The Defence

In part two, guest writer Callum Fraser looks at the statistical story lines from the Sens defenders this past season.

by Callum Fraser @CallumFraser18 / Ottawa Senators

The Senators defence corps is a group of uniquely talented individuals. With that comes prosperity in an array of different statistics. From Erik Karlsson dominating every offensive category possible to Mark Borowiecki throwing an inconceivable amount of vicious hits, there's so much to celebrate along the blue line.

Let's take a look at some of their personal accomplishments from the regular season.


Erik Karlsson - Overall Offence, Blocked Shots

The hardest part of presenting Karlsson's statistical achievements is figuring out where to start.

The Senators captain has always been an outstanding two-way defenceman, but this season he took it to another level. A third Norris Trophy may be waiting around the corner after this year's display of brilliance in the offensive end and command in the D zone.

To start off, let's take a look at what the 2016-17 campaign meant for the 26-year-old. Finishing with a total of 71 points in 77 games played, he added yet another historical offensive season to his soon-to-be Hall of Fame worthy resume.

Since 2010, there have been 15 60-point seasons by a defenceman; Karlsson now has five of them. In that same time frame, there have been seven 70-point seasons by a defenceman: Karlsson now has four of them.

Though he was unable to reach his career high of 82 points, Karlsson created a new career high in a similar category. An argument for the Swedish sensation to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP has always been how much of an influence his play has on the Senators' overall offence. When in the lineup this season, Karlsson was in on 36.2% of the team's goals, surpassing his previous career high of 35.6% last year.

Karlsson is also setting career highs on the other side of the puck. His 201 blocked shots this season have him second in the league and far above his previous career high of 175. Only ten players have surpassed 200 blocks in a season since 2010.


Freddy Claesson - 5-on-5 Offence

Head coach Guy Boucher raved about Freddy Claesson's ability to come in and out of the lineup at a moment's notice all throughout the year as the team's seventh defenceman. Claesson didn't just find success in this position; he thrived.

It says a lot about a player's capabilities if, when inserted into the lineup, they're trusted to play against top competition alongside Karlsson. Claesson has shown a substantial increase in defensive awareness and confidence with the puck this season.

At the conclusion of the regular season, the 24-year-old sat fifth in 5-on-5 points per 60 minutes by defencemen with a rating of 1.34. Only Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Brady Skjei and Dougie Hamilton had a higher rating. That's pretty good company.

Claesson's fast-tracked development in the offensive zone played a huge part in the one-way contract extension he signed with the Senators in mid-February.


Mark Borowiecki - Hits

You'd be hard pressed to find a more relentless, intimidating, physical hockey player than Borowiecki. For four years, the hometown boy has been terrorizing wingers on the rush as they burst up the left side of the ice.

And just when you thought he couldn't throw his body around more, Borowiecki upped his checking game again this year. In fact, the 6-foot-2 defenceman just made NHL history.

Borowiecki now holds the league record for most hits per game in one season at an overwhelming pace of 5.2.


Chris Wideman - Possession

During his second full season with the big club, Chris Wideman became a possession giant. The former Eddie Shore Trophy winner for AHL best defenceman mastered the art of getting shots through from the blue line and was a staple in the Senators' breakout.

With a 52.5% Corsi For rating at even strength, Wideman was tops amongst Senators defencemen with a 5.52 team relative Corsi For rating.

When depth defencemen like Claesson, Borowiecki and Wideman step up, each in their own way, their time on ice is no longer referred to as "eating up minutes."

The Senators' postseason berth was very much made possible by a deep blue line. When a team loses three key players on the backend like Cody Ceci, Marc Methot and Karlsson during a push for the playoffs, the defencemen further down the depth chart have to step up. And they did in a big way.



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