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Corsi data from the 2016 IIHF World Championships

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Is Nikita Zaitsev the best defender on his team? How is Morgan Rielly doing? And don't forget Martin Marincin, his results might surprise you.

Martin Rose/Getty Images

The Hockey Ninja decided to drag the IIHF World Championships into the 20th century and track Corsi data for the games manually.

This gives us a chance to look at how the three Leafs defencemen did in their games, since none of them scored very much. To plot them, I chose to include all the defenders for Russia, Canada and Slovakia on one graph. While you're looking at them, remember that the Russians and Canadians had much, much higher quality forwards than Slovakia.

Martin Marincin and Morgan Rielly both played on their teams' top pairing, while Nikita Zaitsev played on the third pair. In some games for Russia the third pair played with one of their best forward lines however. Slava Voynov and Alexei Emelin were their top pair.

This chart is set up so the the upper right is the good zone. Up means more offence, and to the right means fewer shots against. The axes are shots (all shots or Corsi) per game.

Zaitsev and his most frequent partner Alexei Marchenko are in the good zone. Cody Ceci is hiding under Marchenko. The colours are the average difference from teammates on a scale from red to green, so the dark green of Zaitsev tells you he's the best on his team.

Rielly (marked with a blue X) and Chris Tanev are right on the median line for shots against, but have excellent shots for, as you'd expect. Their muddy grey colour says they're right at their team average.

Marincin (marked with a blue X) and his partner Andrej Sekera are lower in shots for, and their shots against are okay, but their green colour shows they are the best pair on their team.

A look at gross Corsi +/- for this group shows who's positive, and by how much.

Marincin, not known for his points in the NHL, was shooting the puck a lot in this tournament, more than any other defender on his team, and higher than most of the forwards as well.

The last chart shows just the scoring chances for and against per game. And again all three are doing very well.

Rielly and Tanev are sharing the same dot, so their names are hard to read.

What stands out for me is Zaitsev and Marchenko relative to the other two defensive pairings on the Russian team. The defence seemed to be arranged by hierarchy, with the bigger names taking the top two jobs. My eye-test said Zaitsev and Marchenko were the best pair, although Chudinov and Antipin were better as suppressing shots. I couldn't tell if I just wanted that to be true or not. And this evidence says it was.

However, if Zaitsev and Marchenko had played more minutes behind Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Mozyakin, not notable in their concern for defensive issues, the picture might have been different.

Rielly hasn't blown me away in this tournament, but he was good enough most of the time. He had the challenge of playing with an entire team of forwards where only one or two would ever earn the name two-way player.

Marincin and the much higher rated Sekera were excellent, with Marincin doing the better job. This is yet another piece of evidence that says he's capable of very good play.

But remember, this is a handful of games, mostly lopsided contests and not to be taken too seriously. But the Leafs defenders look good! We'll take it!

Oh, and that thing everyone is talking about? Here it is Laine vs. Matthews:

Can you find them? Try to remember who had the better team while you look, and also, look for Leo Komarov, in a lovely shade of green.

Note: these charts don't include every game, and are based on manually tracked data. It there's an updated version for that last one at the end of the tournament, we'll post it. Name spellings on the charts conform to the IIHF usage.