BFR1 – Bruins Game 45 – Heart Palpitations – BOS 4, MTL 1

BFR1 - Game 45 Pic

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                           Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

 

About to sit down to record the third BFR reaction for B’s/Habs in a little over a week, none of which were overly competitive games, and OH MY GOD CHARLIE MCAVOY HOLY CRAP NOT OK…

Yeah.

I may have panicked a bit…

 

Should the Bruins keep Carlo?

brandon-carlo-boston-bruins-feature

Photo Credit: Bill Wippert/Getty

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                               Twitter: @pucknerdhockey

More than the “Trade Tuukka” chants, or the “Deal Krug” narrative, I have been most perplexed and frustrated by the trend of Bruins fans to constantly bring down Brandon Carlo. Carlo is a bonafide Top 4 defenseman in this league, does plenty well, and as soon as he makes a 21-year-old mistake (oh yeah, buried the lede here – HE’S STILL ONLY 21), people jump on the bandwagon and scream from atop the highrises in Boston to get rid of him as fast as possible. To me, this is twofold. For one, Boston fans are consistently impatient. They don’t like waiting too long for players to develop and are quick to bash youngsters for their flaws. This is likely due to how spoiled they have been as a fanbase. When you are exposed to Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Zdeno Chara, and now the emerging Charlie McAvoy, fair weather fans have a tendency to assume that every young defenseman should be this way, or they are automatically a bust.

No, they are not.

The irony is until McAvoy came along, Carlo was the beloved d-prospect who fans didn’t want to be dealt for anyone short of Connor McDavid, and three first-round picks (still may want to check on that, Pete Chiarelli’s starting to get desperate). As soon as McAvoy broke onto the scene, well, Carlo just wasn’t Chuckie. Newsflash: they have completely different skillsets, and that’s OK.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Arizona Coyotes

Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian

The second reason I think is that Carlo stands at 6’5″, 203 lbs, and doesn’t pile up highlight-reel, bone-crushing hits. I like to call this “Dougie Hamilton Syndrome,” only, Carlo hasn’t put up the pure offensive numbers that let some fans stomach Hamilton’s perceived lack of physicality. This is a fundamental flaw in how people perceive defense should be played. You do not have to hit people to be a good defenseman. You do not have to hit people because you are big. Carlo’s game is much, much more than that. But, you try explaining that to the fanbase of the Big Bad Bruins. They always have time (and wayyyyy too much money) for the grizzled veteran who will knock an opponent’s face in (I see you, Adam McQuaid).

By this time, you know my schtick – present an argument I find ridiculous and provide plenty of graphical information to support my hypothesis. In short, nerd stuff. Might I say, PUCKNerd Stuff? Yeah, I know, humor’s not really my forte. Anyhoo…

tlumacki_bruinsvsducks_sports056

Photo Credit: John Tlumacki

I looked at the last two years of Boston defensemen since Carlo broke into the league and only looked at players who suited up for a minimum of 500 minutes in the black and gold. This limits the dataset to guys who are heavily relied upon and likely played Top 4 minutes for a long stretch in that timeframe. There are only 7 players who qualify: Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Charlie McAvoy (yeah, ALREADY), Kevan Miller, Colin Miller, Torey Krug, and, yes, Brandon Carlo. Below is a distribution of their zone starts.

Bruins Defensemen Zone Start Distribution

Red represents the percentage of shifts started in the offensive zone, orange in the neutral zone, and blue in the defensive zone. You may be interested to note that Carlo has the second lowest percentage of his shifts start in the offensive zone, and the second highest percentage of his shifts start in the defensive zone. The only player getting a higher chunk of his shifts starting in his own zone is Zdeno Chara. Mind you, Carlo broke into the league as a 19-year-old. This says that not only do the Bruins trust him in his own zone, they rely heavily on him to get the job done.

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Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

Well, that’s great. But a zone starts distribution that favors defensive zone starts does not necessarily equate to a GOOD defensive player. So, let’s look at Corsi For and Against per Hour. This normalizes Corsi rates for ice time, though the size of the data points equates to the percentage of total time on ice of the team’s time on the ice each player was deployed for.

Bruins Defensemen Corsi ForAgainst per Hour

Only Chara and McAvoy see a more significant percentage of the team’s ice time than Carlo, and he is their best Corsi Against player by a decent amount. Not only that, but he is also a net positive in Corsi, as he falls favorably within the “good” quadrant. What does this indicate? When he is on the ice, the Bruins are producing more shot attempts than the other team, which is indicative of better puck possession. This made me a bit skeptical, as our good friend Adam McQuaid ALSO shows up in that quadrant. So, what if we look at the TYPE of minutes Carlo has been asked to play?

Bruins Defensemen Minutes Difficulty versus Shot Suppression per Hour

Looking at the Time on Ice percentage adjusted for quality of competition, and comparing that to shot suppression, or Corsi Against per Hour, also adjusted for quality of competition, you start seeing a better picture. Pay close attention to the axes. The Corsi axis (the x-axis on your standard graph) is between 55% and 58% Corsi – an average possession player will fall around 50%. Based on this, Carlo appears to have played the 3rd most against the hardest competition. This makes sense, as it is supported by the previous chart. He is still good at suppressing the opposition, as his Corsi Against per Hour is third lowest of this group – meaning he actually has the third lowest number of shot attempts allowed while is on the ice of this group. Curiously, Colin Miller and Adam McQuaid are the only ones who are better at shot suppression but play significantly easier minutes and a much lower number of minutes. Also, Charlie McAvoy is the definition of fun, but he is playing easily the most difficult opposition of this group as a 21-year-old rookie. That’s objectively ridiculous. Please give him the Calder NOW.

alex-ovechkinbrandon-carlo-d39a237954665064

Photo Credit: Winslow Townsend/AP Photo

At this point, some of you might be saying, “Carlo is obviously a product of who he plays with.” AHA. I have out-thought you because I already have that information for you. Carlo Partners Number of Games with Each Partner

Since making his NHL debut, Brandon Carlo has played significant minutes (more than a couple of games) with only four players: Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, John-Michael Liles, and Kevan Miller, with the majority of his time being spent with (by far) Chara and Krug.

Carlo Partners Zone Start Ratio

The 50% line on this chart represents an even distribution of zone starts. Those falling below the line favor defensive zone starts, those high favor offensive zone starts. As one would expect, Carlo has seen a lot more aggressive zone starts when paired with Torey Krug. With the other three, he was hemmed in his own end quite a bit.

Carlo Partners Corsi For versus Against per Hour

Let’s check out that Corsi For versus Against per Hour graph again, but this time, look at how each pairing performed. The Liles/Carlo pairing was objectively bad, but the other 3 have been reasonably good. Krug/Carlo is far and away the best pairing of this group, and they’ve played enough of a sample size of games together to indicate that this is real. In fact, looking at the PDO values for each pairing, each of which suggests how repeatable their performance is (PDO = save percentage + shooting percentage; expect most PDO values to trend towards 100.0), you see that the three best pairings actually seem to be about where they should be. The Liles pairing, let’s chalk that up to limited sample size.

Carlo Partners PDO

Now, I checked out how efficient each pairing was regarding offensive production. I compared expected goals differential to their produced goals differential to do so. Trending towards the top right of the graph is good, towards the bottom left is kind of bad, and any other direction indicates that they are not performing as expected.

Carlo Partners Expected versus True Goals Differential

The Chara/Carlo pairing is clearly the best, buoyed in large part to a high expected goal differential. The Krug/Carlo pairing is actually underperforming, while the other two pairings, well, they weren’t tremendously good.

New York Rangers v Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: Jim Rogash

Great. So, Carlo is a good defenseman – when compared to his own teammates. Despite Boston’s reputation as one of the more defensively stout teams in the league, that doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. So, let’s look at Carlo in comparison to all NHL defensemen who have played over 1000 minutes since his NHL debut.

Defensemen Minutes Difficulty versus Shot Suppression per Hour

Looking at a comparison of the difficulty of minutes and shot suppression ability per hour, as we did for the partners Carlo has played with, Carlo matches up quite favorably to some of the NHL’s elite. I have pointed out Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, the two most recent Norris Trophy winners, as well as Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who plays the most difficult minutes of any defenseman in the league by far, Yannick Weber, who has played the easiest minutes of this group by a large margin, as well as Fedor Tyutin, who has gotten his teeth caved in the most of anyone in this dataset. Carlo is firmly in the top 1/4th of the group, indicating that he is, at worst, a #3 defenseman in this league.

Defensemen Corsi For versus Against per Hour

Now, Corsi For and Against per Hour. How does he stack up? Well, Burns is ridiculous, Torey Krug is (unsurprisingly) a Top 5 offensive defenseman in the league, Morgan Rielly is quite good, and Carlo is well into the “good” quadrant. I think I will take him on my defense corps.

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) and Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25).

Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty

What does all of this do to the trade Carlo argument? Well, Brandon Carlo is demonstrably a good defensive defenseman in the NHL at the ripe old age of 21. He’s a right-handed defenseman who is 6’5″ and skates incredibly well. He defends quite well in his own end and plays a very cerebral game on the back end. If you trade Carlo, you immediately will be looking for another Brandon Carlo. The good news is, he won’t need to play top pairing minutes in Boston, which allows him to dominate in a slightly lesser role, what with Charlie McAvoy looking very much like perennial Norris Candidate in his own right. So, please. Just because he makes some weird mistakes, let him figure it out and back off. The end result is going to be one you want to stick around for.

All data mined through the databases on Corsica.hockey. Collected as of January 17th, 2018. All graphs are courtesy of PuckNerd and are not to be used without the express written consent of myself. Thank you.

Please give me a follow on Twitter (found above) and check out/subscribe to my YouTube Channel (@PuckNerd) for more of my content!

Bruins Mid-Season Stat Prediction Check-Up

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Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara (USA TODAY Sports)

By: KG                   Follow me on Twitter: @kgbngblog and on FanCred at K G

My first article on this site was a prediction piece on who I thought would lead the Bruins in stat categories at the end of the year. Well, we’re halfway there and it seems like most of them are holding up decently, but I’ll admit I have a couple ones that are way off. Here’s an update and look back at what I thought would happen at the start of the year. (Here’s the link to the original article)

Goals

My Prediction: Brad Marchand (40-43)

Current Leader: Brad Marchand (18)

I believe that Marchand can hold onto the lead. He has also played 8 games less than David Pastrnak and has one more goal than him. My darkhorse for this category is Patrice Bergeron. His four-goal game against Carolina helped him leap into the solo third spot with 16 goals.

Assists

My Prediction: Torey Krug (44-47)

Current Leader: Brad Marchand (23)

Torey Krug has struggled at times this season and has looked like he’s having a worse season offensively compared to some of his other seasons. Marchand, on the other hand, is taking over almost every offensive category. He’s really evolved over the years into an offensive star.

Plus/Minus

My Prediction: Patrice Bergeron (18-21)

Current Leader: Zdeno Chara (21)

Chara and McAvoy have one of the best line Goals For/Goals Against as a defensive pairing with 25 goals for and 11 goals against. Chara looks like he isn’t letting a decreasing speed slow him down defensively. Bergeron is just two behind Chara, so my original prediction still has a pretty good chance of coming true. And with the Bergeron/Marchand/Pastrnak line playing as well as they are now, Bergeron has a great opportunity for adding to his +/- total.

Hits

My Prediction: David Backes (220-230)

Current Leader: Charlie McAvoy (96)

This one is tricky since Backes has only been able to play 25 games this year. But from what we have seen so far from McAvoy and his style of physical yet skilled play, he could be the leader come the last game of the season. But with both Chara and Miller close on his tail, I’d say that this is going to come down to whether or not Miller gets more Time On Ice than he is now.

Faceoff Win %

My Prediction: Patrice Bergeron (57.5% – 59.75%)

Current Leader: Patrice Bergeron (57.3%)

As expected, Bergeron is leading the Bruins in FOW%. Again. He should hold onto the lead the rest of the season.

Power Play Goals

My Prediction: David Pastrnak (9 – 11)

Current Leader: Brad Marchand/David Pastrnak (6)

I’ve said this before, but Pastrnak has really turned into an Ovechkin-like player on the power play, waiting near the top of the top left faceoff circle for that perfect one-timer. Marchand has also been very successful on the PP so far this year with his ability to move the puck effectively. The Bruins currently have the 11th best power play with 20.7%, and it looks like it will keep getting better and better with more time of practicing in the same system.

Time On Ice Per Game Played

My Prediction: Charlie McAvoy (21:50-23:00)

Current Leader: Zdeno Chara (23:23)

Chara continues to show that he deserves at least another year on the Bruins roster when his current contract is up. He is playing at a level where he can lead his team in both +/- and TOI, and do it all at 40 years old. A player comparison of ice time for Chara is Aaron Ekblad, the 21-year-old on the Florida Panthers. Ekblad won the Calder back in the 2014-15 season. He has an average TOI of 23:54. Chara is playing close to the same amount of time per game as someone half his age. I believe that with Boston now at a 99.56% of making the playoffs, Bruce Cassidy will let Chara take a shift or two off when it gets closer to playoff time to rest him, letting McAvoy take over as top spot of the TOI category.

Points

My Prediction: Brad Marchand (84-87)

Current Leader: Brad Marchand (41)

Marchand leads in both goals and assists, so it’s pretty clear to see that he leads in points, and he should. He’s currently playing at 1.21 points per game, and on that pace, he’d easily hit my 84-87 point prediction, and maybe go over.

Power Play Points

My Prediction: David Pastrnak (26-28)

Current Leader: David Pastrnak (14)

As I was saying before, Pastrnak is great on the man advantage. He may even pass the original prediction and make it closer to 30-32 points.

Game-Winning Goals

My Prediction: Brad Marchand (9-10)

Current Leader: Jake DeBrusk (3)

This is the most surprising stat so far. Especially since DeBrusk only has 10 goals total. My original pick of Marchand isn’t too far off since he is only one away at two GWG. I don’t see DeBrusk’s lead holding up.

Overtime Goals

My Prediction: Sean Kuraly (2-4)

Current Leader: Brad Marchand (1)

This was the boldest prediction that I made. I’m wrong on the prediction because…

  1. The Bruins have only won one game in overtime this season and are 3-8 when games go to overtime/shootout
  2. Brad Marchand is the only Bruin to score in an Overtime period this season
  3. Sean Kuraly doesn’t play all that much when it does go to OT

Probably not my smartest prediction, but I’m sticking to it. Hey, maybe that’s why they don’t win as much in OT. Not enough Kuraly.

Shots

My Prediction: Patrice Bergeron (290-310)

Current Leader: Patrice Bergeron (137)

Bergeron is a master at getting opportunities to the net. Many players have great shots and seem to shoot a lot, but Bergeron just seems to get the puck into the goalie almost everytime. He has 24 more shots than the 2nd place player (Pastrnak) in five fewer games. Just great stuff from someone who is thought of as a defensive player.

Penalty Minutes

My Prediction: Brad Marchand (85-89)

Current Leader: Kevan Miller (56)

Marchand hasn’t been suspended, fined or even gotten into an actual fight this year. He seems to be a slightly changed man. Now he’s just an agitator instead of an agitator that gets penalized. On the other hand, Miller has stepped into the role of the designated fighter with four majors so far this season. I expect him to continue to lead the team in this category unless McQuaid comes back from injury with a grudge. He’s racked up 12 PIMs in only six games played, and even when he comes back he may not try to fight as much to avoid re-injuring himself.

Shorthanded Points

My Prediction: Riley Nash (6-8)

Current Leader: Brad Marchand (2)

Riley Nash hasn’t registered a single point shorthanded this season. It seems like shorthanded production as a whole is down for the Bruins this season, with only three SHG scored all season. Marchand will probably continue to lead this category like he does with the majority of the points/offensive categories.

 

So far I’m 6/14 on my picks this season. Not great. But then again, it wouldn’t have been much fun if I had just chosen Marchand for 10 of them. Oh well.

 

Sources: Leftwinglock.com, NHL.com, FOXsports.com, Moneypuck.com, Hockeyfights.com, ESPN.com

Follow KG on Twitter @KGbngblog and on FanCred at K G Like, share and comment your takes on the article

Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast #78 1-1-18

By: Mark Allred            Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Welcome back to episode 78 in partnership with the Grandstand Sports Network. On this week’s show, Mark and Court are without co-host Rob but we pushed on with a few topics as we recorded a day late but to fill some air-time we welcomed back Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog writer and Youtube Bruins BFR Vlogger Spencer Faschetta to the program.
We talked about last weeks games and the upcoming schedule as the calendar year changes to 2018. We added a few other topics and later welcomed back Rogers TV Colour Analyst and QMJHL Scout Craig Eagles to talk about the recent promotion of Bruins prospect Cedric Pare and the state of the Saint John Sea Dogs organization.

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You can also financially support our show by donating $1 and have exclusive access to our new “What Ya Bruin” Mailbag segment where paying contributors get their questions answered with the highest priority. Go to patreon.com/blackngoldhockeypodcast for another way to cut the operating costs.

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Thanks for tuning in and all the support! We’ll be back next week for another show of Bruins Hockey related material. Take Care and GO Bruins!!

Bruins’ Rookies: Actually Good

Nashville Predators v Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 5: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Charlie McAvoy #73 after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators during the first period at TD Garden on October 5, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                   Twitter: @pucknerdhockey

A lot has been made about the Bruins’ clear push to embrace a youth movement this season. They actually lead the league in games played by rookies. But, apart from Charlie McAvoy, who has more than lived up to the hype, the B’s 3 other primary rookies (Matt Grzelcyk has been good, but has not played enough to qualify here), Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, and Danton Heinen, really lack the name recognition of the more high profile rookie leaders this year. This is your Matt Barzals, Nico Hischiers, Will Butchers, etcetera. Because of how important young talent has become in this league, and because these three haven’t generated as much hype thus far, I thought I’d look into what kind of value they actually bring to the B’s.

Vancouver Canucks Vs Boston Bruins At TD Garden

BOSTON – OCTOBER 19: Boston Bruins’ Anders Bjork is congratulated by teammate Brad Marchand after his first goal of the first period. The Boston Bruins host the Vancouver Canucks in a regular season NHL hockey game at TD Garden in Boston on Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

To begin with, I took the data collected through Manny Elk’s Corsica.hockey database. Using NHL.com’s stats page (the only time I will EVER use that abhorrent piece of garbage) to determine the top scoring rookies, I pared my sample frame to the top 25 scoring rookies in the NHL this season as of the winter holiday roster freeze. They are:

Adrian Kempe (LAK)

Alex DeBrincat (CHI)

Alex Kerfoot (COL)

Alex Tuch (VGK)

Anders Bjork (BOS)

Brock Boeser (VAN)

Charles Hudon (MTL)

Charlie McAvoy (BOS)

Christian Fischer (ARZ)

Clayton Keller (ARZ)

Danton Heinen (BOS)

JT Compher (COL)

Jake DeBrusk (BOS)

Jakub Vrana (WSH)

Jesper Bratt (NJD)

Joshua Ho-Sang (NYI)

Kyle Connor (WPG)

Mark Jankowski (CGY)

Martin Frk (DET)

Mathew Barzal (NYI)

Mikhail Sergachev (TBL)

Nico Hischier (NJD)

Pierre-Luc Dubois (CBJ)

Will Butcher (NJD)

Yanni Gourde (TBL)

This includes all 4 rookies of note for the Bruins, as well as a large enough sample size to properly analyze their relative impact across the league. Corsica’s database offers 5 different datasets for individual players: Summary, Relative, Individual, On-Ice, and Context. I took all 5 datasets and combined them into one large dataset to analyze the largest number of statistics possible. Then, using some of my own magic, I cooked up a few graphics to help demonstrate why the quartet of DeBrusk, Bjork, McAvoy, and Heinen deserve much more respect than they are currently getting.

Point per 60 Distribution.png

This first graphic displays the individual point distribution per 60 minutes of play. The idea behind a “per 60 minutes” statistic is to account for the effect of playing time on production. A top line player is likely to score more than a 4th liner solely based upon them spending more time on the ice than the 4th liner. Points per 60 and similar statistics show how productive a player is the ice time they are being given. The graphic shows each player’s goals per 60 (red), primary assists per 60 (orange), and secondary assists per 60 (green) stats. Obviously, Brock Boeser is a goal scoring machine. Adrian Kempe appears to be shredding opponents in slightly less ice time than his peers.

Chicago Blackhawks v Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 25: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins congratulates Anders Bjork #10 after he scored a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at TD Garden on September 25, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As for the Bruins’ 4, Bjork (5th from the top) seems to be relatively well balanced. He looks less productive simply because he is listed directly above the absurdly productive Boeser. However, he is above the median regarding points per 60 production.

McAvoy (8th from the top) appears at first glance to have a really low level of production. This is, however, more of an inditement of his ice time, which will be touched on later. In short, McAvoy is playing significantly more minutes per game than anyone else on this list. So, let’s discount him on this graphic.

Heinen (11th from the top) is, based on this metric, an incredibly productive player. What’s important to note about him on this graphic is how much of his production are primary points. This means he is directly responsible for a majority of the offense he is producing or contributing to, something that is much more likely to be a repeatable action than a gluttony of secondary assists.

DeBrusk (13th from the top) is 3rd (yes, THIRD) in goals per 60 in this group, behind only Boeser and Kempe. He is also 5th in overall points production, behind only Kempe, Boeser, Barzal, and the much, much older Yanni Gourde. For anyone who didn’t think he was worth that 1st Round pick in 2015, consider that he has been a healthy scratch twice already this year. Gourde hasn’t, Kempe was a recall a few games into the season, Boeser has missed only a single game, and Barzal hasn’t missed one for the Islanders. DeBrusk hasn’t had the minutes that Kempe, Boeser, or Barzal has. This is incredibly impressive.

Zone Start Distribution

Next, I chose to look at how each player’s zone starts were distributed. The percentage of their shifts starting in the offensive zone are shown in red, neutral zone starts in orange, and defensive zone starts in blue. Coaches will often shelter younger or less defensively responsible players by starting more of their shifts in the offensive zone. Bjork is a prime example of this. He is not on the penalty kill in Boston, and no rookie in this group starts a higher percentage of their shifts in the offensive zone. The only one who starts a lower percentage of their shifts in the defensive zone is (curiously enough) Tampa’s Mikhail Sergachev, one of only 3 defensemen on this list.

Nashville Predators v Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 5: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins, right, celebrates with Matt Grzelcyk #48 and Anders Bjork #10 after scoring his first NHL goal during the second period against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden on October 5, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Similarly, DeBrusk sees a majority of his shifts start in the offensive zone, and starts the fewest number of his shifts in the defensive zone. Where this gets interesting is Heinen. Heinen is arguably the most balanced individual on this list. There is still a slight advantage to the offensive zone, but his zone starts are almost entirely equally distributed. There is tangible evidence for this, as he is the only one of the B’s 3 big rookie forwards who consistently sees time on the penalty kill. It appears he has Bruce Cassidy’s trust in his own end. McAvoy also sees a large number of his shifts start in the offensive zone, and has the same offensive, neutral, defensive progression as Bjork and DeBrusk, but it is much less pronounced than those two, and he starts more of a percentage of his shifts in his own end than the other two defensemen on this list, Will Butcher, and Mikhail Sergachev.

 

Shot Efficiency

This is quite possibly one of my favorite graphics I made. This is a model of a player’s shot efficiency. It compares their shooting percentage to the shots generated for per 60 minutes of play. Players to the upper right of the graph are producing lots of shots, and finishing at a consumer rate. The bottom right quadrant is full of players who are shooting at a higher than normal shooting percentage and will, in all likelihood, see their percentages regress towards the mean. The opposite is true in the top left quadrant. These players are generating a ton of shots, but just aren’t finishing at the rate at which one would expect them to. The dotted vertical line is the average NHL shooting percentage, 9%. You might be asking, “Why are they all different sized dots?” Excellent question. The dots are all scaled based on the percentage of overall ice time skated by the team that the individual player skated, or TOI%. Players with a large dot are relied on to play more minutes for their team, whereas the tiny dots represent players who regularly see time on the 3rd or 4th line for their respective team. Each of the B’s 4 rookies has been labeled.

MATT3877.JPG

(Boston, MA, 10/20/16) New Jersey Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy and Boston Bruins center Danton Heinen go after the puck during the third period of the Bruins home opener at the TD Garden on Thursday, October 20, 2016. Staff photo by Matt Stone

Now, what do each of their relative positions on this graph tell us? Well, only DeBrusk is shooting above the league average, at 10.64%. Bjork and Heinen are relatively close to the average of 9%, at 8.7% and 8.81% respectively. McAvoy is a defenseman, so his shooting percentage is likely to be lower than the average. He is still hanging around the group average though, at 7.85%, a very impressive rate for a rookie blueliner. All three forwards are at or above the average shooting percentage for the group. Heinen and Bjork are almost at the exact center of the graph, while DeBrusk is actually producing slightly fewer shots per 60 minutes, but appears to be a slightly better finisher at this juncture. Also, McAvoy has the biggest dot. Just thought I’d throw that out there again.

Offensive Efficiency Rookies

So, we already looked at shooting efficiency, why not how efficient they are offensively in general? This graphic uses the same size scale (TOI%) and compares a player’s goals for percentage (the goals they factor into for and against their team divided by all goals scored for and against the said team) to their EXPECTED goals for percentage. Players in the bottom right are underproducing according to this graph (i.e., their expected goals for percentage is higher than their current one by a considerable amount), and those in the top left are overproducing their expected rate.

All four Bruins fall to the right of the 50% mark regarding actual goals for percentage. This means all 4 of them help produce more goals for their team than they allow while they are on the ice. I feel like that might be relatively important. McAvoy and Heinen are both well into the “good” quadrant, and Heinen has the highest expected goals for the percentage of any rookie on this list. DeBrusk and Bjork both fall into the “underproducing” category, which tells me they are probably going to start to score more.

NHL: OCT 05 Predators at Bruins

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 05: Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy makes a point during an NHL game between the Boston Bruins and the Nashville Predators on October 5, 2017, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Predators 4-3. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Of note, Heinen’s expected goals for percentage is nearly 60%, meaning, based on how he has played, his team should expect to accumulate 60% of the goals scored while he is on the ice. That’s ridiculous. What’s funnier is McAvoy’s actual goals for percentage is OVER 60% (although his expected rate is closer to 55%, still quite good).

Corsi per 60 Distribution

Final graphic with this group of rookies. This once again uses the TOI% size scale and compares a player’s Corsi For per 60 to their Corsi Against per 60. In short, how are the shot attempts being distributed while they are on the ice? I will let this one speak for itself a bit because Corsi is relatively self-explanatory. A higher number equates to a higher percentage of the shot rates they control per 60 minutes of ice time. “For” is for their own team, and “against” is against their team. Therefore, the Y-axis on this graph is offensive shot attempts, and the X-axis is defensive shot attempts they allow. The dotted axes are the expected average of 50%. I’d say that DeBrusk falls into the “FUN” category (lots of shot attempts for AND against), whereas the other three are relatively defensively responsible. Bjork has the highest Corsi For per 60 rate of the four at 61.81. Interesting…

Now you should have a pretty good idea of how McAvoy, Bjork, Heinen, and DeBrusk all stack up against the league’s best young guns. But what about in the Black and Gold?

Offensive Efficiency

Remember that Offensive Efficiency graphic earlier? Here’s the Bruins’ distribution. I have labeled each of the four we have been discussing, as well as the B’s top line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak, all of whom fall into the “ludicrous” category, and Adam McQuaid, just because he is so clearly the worst of the group despite getting a sizeable chunk of the ice time. This time, I compared shots for the percentage to goals for percentage. As you can see, all four rookies fall into the “Good” quadrant and are better than more than half of the B’s roster. Of note is Matt Grzelcyk, who is unlabeled, but represented by the bright pink dot in the far top right. While he’s on the ice, the team is producing 65% of the shots, and around 77% of the total goals. If he had played more, he would also be a part of this analysis. It also demonstrates clearly that he should not come out of this lineup in favor of Adam McQuaid, who is absolutely abysmal and has not been on the ice for a goal for this year. Also, Brad Marchand is producing almost 91% of the total goals scored while he is on the ice. I’m sorry, what????

Boston Bruins v Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 14: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins and teammates on the bench celebrate a goal against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 14, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

So, in short, you really ought to take Heinen, Bjork, and DeBrusk seriously. McAvoy has gotten a bit of Calder attention based on the sheer amount of minutes he is being asked to play, and the competition he is being asked to play against, but the other 3 really haven’t been mentioned at all. DeBrusk and Heinen should absolutely be getting legitimate Calder consideration, and Bjork isn’t very far behind. And Don Sweeney hit it out of the park by committing to this youth movement this year. All of these kids appear to indeed be alright. *Insert really ham-fisted Capri-Sun Pun here*

All data courtesy of Corsica.hockey. Data scraped on December 24th, 2017. Master data tables and graphics created by Spencer Fascetta (aka PuckNerd) utilizing Microsoft Excel and Tableau.

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BFR1 – Game 35 – Bruins’ Holiday Magic

BFR1 - Game 35 Pic

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                   Twitter: @pucknerdhockey

Heck of a way to come back after the holiday break! Riley Nash went off, there were plenty of shenanigans, and we got confirmation once again that the Ottawa Senators are devolving into a tire fire. PuckNerd brings back the BFR to discuss all this and more.