Adam Larsson and Andy Greene are amazing.
I think Devils fans for the most part recognize this and appreciate it. However, I don't think we've put it into perspective how important they are to why this team is competent.
The first thing we are going to look at is ZSO%Rel. This statistic tells you the offensive zone start percentage relative to the team. A positive ZSO%Rel indicates a player who starts in the offensive zone more often than his teammates. Larsson and Greene are 5th and 6th in the NHL ... from the bottom. They have an absolutely impossible-to-deal-with -43.69% ZSO%Rel.
Zone Start percentage has a very strong correlation to possession (duh). I adjusted the CF%Rel (Corsi Percentage relative to team) statistics for Zone-Starts.
*For stats nerds: box-cox returned lambda=1 to verify linearity. Residuals were normal with equal, independant variance, and the regression equation was 0.0632 + 0.190417*ZSO%Rel.
Time for a mini- Adam Larsson love-fest.
When making this adjustment. Adam Larsson is the #6 defender in the NHL. In other words, after controlling for the effects of team and zone-start, Adam Larsson has been in the top 6 in the NHL in driving his team's possession. While almost always starting in the defensive zone, he managed a CF% of 50%. And he's 22 years old.
The pair of them are put in defensive positions regularly and have somehow managed a basically-even possession. That type of affect on a game cannot be overstated. Having a duo that will take the faceoffs from your defensive zone and make that shift an even shot-distribution.
But that's not the only place we rely on them. They play over 3 mintues a game on the PK. They don't play much on the PP, but does any part of anyone think that's because they aren't capable? It's because they are in the top 20 in NHL in PK time and top 20 in the NHL in ES time, most of which starts in the defensive zone.
These two are playing some great hockey and its performances like these that are why guys like me and the other AAtJ writer, and many of the readers watch every game of Devils hockey. If this team returns to be a perennial power at some point in the not-too-distant future, odds are Greene-Larsson will be a part of it and we will be able to say that we were there at its birth and we knew how special it was going to be. These two are both locked up long term.
The Star and the Stonewall will be the anchor for your next era of Devils.
Side note: I finished this article as Lee Stempniak scored his shootout goal. I'm so pumped right now I lost my train of thought. Sorry if that was an unsatisfying conclusion.