The Nashville Predators’ Shea Weber and Roman Josi make up one of the more elite defensive pairings in the NHL. They complement each other’s game, can control play in all areas of the ice, and both have the skill set to put the puck into the back of the net frequently.
Last season, Josi scored 15 goals and added 40 assists while Weber recorded 15 goals of his own while adding 30 helpers. The two finished sixth and 16th, respectively, in scoring among defensemen.
During an impressive breakout year, Josi was a dark horse to win the Norris Trophy for much of the season. He stayed around the top-five scoring defensemen in the league all year and with the four-time NHL All Star Weber playing alongside him, the pair was brought into the spotlight thanks to their combined 100 points.
That buzz surrounding the two has died down a bit this season. It’s unlikely any defenseman unseats Erik Karlsson as the leading candidate for the Norris Trophy this year, but that shouldn’t take away from yet another consistently elite season the both are having.
Last year, Josi looked to have taken the title of No. 1 defenseman from Weber, both in terms of playing time and scoring, and that notion holds true again this season.
But seriously, Roman Josi is almost literally flying tonight. #NSHvsBOShttps://t.co/vzdpNn6srp
— NHL (@NHL) December 8, 2015
Josi is skating 25:05 per contest while Weber is seeing 24:54 of ice time. The 25-year-old also has the team captain beat in total points this season, with 11 goals and 31 assists, but Weber has found the back of the net 15 times while adding 21 helpers. This time last season Weber had 25 points (8G, 17A) while Josi had 22 (6G, 16A).
Their opposing styles of play actually help the pair work in harmony, rather than create discord on the ice. Josi is the more up-tempo, skillful puck handling playmaker, while Weber plays a more rugged and positional game, carefully picking his moments to jump up on offense.
This is most obvious on the power play. Whenever Weber chases down a puck in Nashville’s zone he either dumps it into the opposition’s zone immediately after crossing the red line or finds a playmaker to carry the puck in. More often than not that player is Josi.
Both carry decent Corsi For percentages. At even strength, Weber’s 50.31 percent places him 14th among all NHL defensemen that have logged at least 1,000 minutes this season. Josi is in the 15th spot just behind him with his 49.62 Corsi For percentage. It is also worth noting that they have put nearly the same amount of shots on net this season with Weber holding a slight advantage with 132 compared to Josi’s 129.
So far this season the two have played 935:47 together at even strength, have possessed the puck with a Corsi For of 50.6 percent which is a higher percentage than what they held at this point last season (49.3). They also have a combined shooting percentage of 6.82 percent, a slight drop from 7.4 percent a year ago.
While a majority of their statistics are very similar, there are a few categories where the two are separated by a margin.
Weber’s physical style of play shows with his 128 hits this season while Josi’s style is bluntly less physical with just 39 hits. On the other hand, Josi holds an even strength shooting percentage of 8.70 percent besting Weber’s 3.03 percent. The 25-year-old’s offensive-heavy style is evident with his 102 individual scoring chances while Weber has registered only 75.
With Nashville’s slightly disappointing season, Weber and Josi have not be under the same microscope as last year. While that’s understandable, this could be a second consecutive season where the two combine for 100 points.
Under the radar or in the spotlight, they are one of the best defensive duos in the NHL.
All stats via War On Ice and Puckalytics.