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Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Updated: November 14, 2:31 PM ET
Kings reign among goal-scoring D

ESPN.com

The NHL's crackdown on obstruction, personnel and coaching philosophies all play a part in defensemen jumping into the play.

While the rule mandates have opened up the ice for everyone, it remains a double-edged sword for blueliners. This year, should a defenseman venture farther into the offensive zone, he's now able to retreat enencumbered. However, if the puck is turned over in dangerous territory -- say, a rebound high into the slot -- a defenseman (or a covering forward) isn't able to impede offensive players charging in the opposite direction.

Defensemen with speed, especially those on teams that have good communication with their forwards like the L.A. Kings and Boston Bruins, are able to take advantage of the open ice. Teams that don't have swift blueliners, like the Philadelphia Flyers, still leave the scoring up to their forwards.

Below is the change in scoring by defensemen for each team over the past year. Listed are goals by defensemen, total goals and percentage of team goals scored by defensmen through Nov. 13:

GREEN LIGHT, RED LIGHT
       |-------- 2001-02 --------|       |-------- 2002-03 --------|  
Rk TEAM G TOT. PCT. G TOT. PCT. DIFF.
1. Los Angeles 30 214 14.0% 14 46 30.4% +16.4
2. Boston 18 236 7.6% 12 55 21.8% +14.2
3. Chicago 28 216 13.0% 10 37 27.0% +14.1
4. Detroit 31 251 12.4% 9 48 18.8% +6.4
5. Edmonton 32 205 15.6% 9 41 22.0% +6.3
6. Nashville 39 196 19.9% 8 32 25.0% +5.1
7. St. Louis 28 227 12.3% 9 57 15.8% +3.5
8. Phoenix 35 228 15.4% 7 38 18.4% +3.1
9. Calgary 25 201 12.4% 6 39 15.4% +2.9
10. Atlanta 28 187 15.0% 7 41 17.1% +2.1
11. N.Y. Islanders 40 239 16.7% 7 39 17.9% +1.2
12. N.Y. Rangers 22 227 9.7% 5 46 10.9% +1.2
13. Carolina 27 217 12.4% 5 37 13.5% +1.1
14. Montreal 34 207 16.4% 7 41 17.1% +.6
15. New Jersey 24 205 11.7% 4 33 12.1% +.4
16. San Jose 31 248 12.5% 5 44 11.4% -1.1
17. Philadelphia 31 234 13.2% 5 46 10.9% -2.4
18. Florida 33 180 18.3% 6 38 15.8% -2.5
19. Columbus 28 164 17.1% 7 49 14.3% -2.8
20. Anaheim 23 175 13.1% 4 39 10.3% -2.9
21. Toronto 43 249 17.3% 7 49 14.3% -3.0
22. Pittsburgh 24 198 12.1% 4 46 8.7% -3.4
23. Dallas 30 215 14.0% 6 58 10.3% -3.6
24. Tampa Bay 22 178 12.4% 5 57 8.8% -3.6
25. Vancouver 48 254 18.9% 6 46 13.0% -5.9
26. Ottawa 36 243 14.8% 3 34 8.8% -6.0
27. Minnesota 20 195 10.3% 2 52 3.8% -6.4
28. Colorado 44 212 20.8% 5 45 11.1% -9.6
29. Buffalo 29 213 13.6% 1 33 3.0% -10.6
30. Washington 48 228 21.1% 1 35 2.9% -18.2