Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak are bad. Like, really bad. When paired together, they’re even worse. Like, “probably the worst defence pairing in the NHL,” bad.
Yet, somehow, Mike Babcock continues to dress them every night and lately he’s been playing them together. Martin Marincin and Frank Corrado have been watching this unmitigated disaster from the press box on most nights and now it looks like it’s Connor Carrick’s turn. I’ve already written about Carrick and the pairings the Leafs should be icing in order to optimize their defence, but clearly Babcock has different ideas.
Leafs D at practice
Looks like Martin could be in for Connor tomorrow
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 2, 2016
This is inexcusable, not only because Carrick, Marincin and Corrado are clearly much better than both Hunwick and Polak, but because it’s hard to find two worse NHL defencemen than Hunwick and Polak. Individually, they’re atrocious. They both boast a -7.98 Rel.CF%, so they get destroyed no matter who they play with. For context, the next worst Leaf defenceman in terms of relative shot attempt differential is Martin Marincin who currently holds a -0.29 Rel.CF%.
Together? Shocker, things only get worse. Much worse. In just under 65 minutes as a pairing, they post a stellar 38.27 CF%! That is good for a -17.30 Rel.CF% or, in simpler terms, literally the worst pairing in the entire NHL! That’s right, there isn’t a defence pairing in the NHL to play at least 50 minutes together and get run over as bad as Hunlak and it isn’t particularly close. The next worst pairing in the shot attempt differential department is Ben Lovejoy and John Moore in New Jersey, who sport a -14.79 Rel.CF%.
You guys will never guess which defence pairing has the worst Rel.CF% in the NHL. Sit down for this one. You're not gunna believe it. pic.twitter.com/ad8ZZ3vVEf
— Wendel Clarkson (@MuchTruculence) December 2, 2016
I’m sure people are sick of hearing me complain about Babcock’s personnel decisions, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about this. Like most fans, I just want the team to be good and I believe they are severely hindering their chances to succeed with these outrageous lineup decisions.
So, please, shoot Hunlak into the Sun.
*all stats via corsica.hockey
*all stats are score, zone and venue adjusted