Torey Krug: The Top 2 Defenseman the Bruins Deserve

( Above Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Spencer Fascetta                                          Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

Much has been made of the Bruins’ depth when it comes to defensive prospects. Fans are constantly on the lookout for Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen, not to mention less heralded prospects such as Matt Grzelcyk and Emil Johansson. Charlie McAvoy already looks like a Calder Trophy finalist, and Brandon Carlo has been a fantastic surprise since arriving early last season. But it is easy to overlook, and even criticize, the play of easily the Bruins’ best defenseman: Torey Krug.

Not only is Torey Krug the Bruins’ BEST defenseman, he actually is one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL. **HOT TAKE ALERT** Yes, I’m aware. However, I have compiled some data to describe to you exactly what I mean. Krug is demonstrably a Top 5 defenseman in the league in terms of transitional ability, or the ability to move the puck from his own zone to the offensive zone effectively and efficiently on a consistent basis, and we all are well aware of his offensive capabilities.

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

As you can see, Krug is clearly an elite offensive defenseman. It may come as a surprise, however, that he is actually a better transitional defenseman per Andrew Berkshire’s metrics than an offensive defenseman. What is even MORE surprising, is that he is actually the 5th best transitional defenseman by these metrics. All four of the defensemen listed ahead of Krug are former Norris Trophy winners, and are consistently considered to be the crème de la crème of NHL defensemen. The major difference between Krug and them appears to be circumstance, pedigree, and size.

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

Krug is demonstrably better offensively than Keith, but the Blackhawks’ rearguard is better in his own end.

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

Again, Doughty is much better than Krug in his own zone and transitionally, but Krug has an absurd advantage offensively.

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

Subban and Karlsson are both significantly better than Krug in all three areas of focus. As they are considered the two best defensemen in the league, this is relatively expected.

Well, great. Krug looks good by one guy’s metric. Granted, he is one of the most respected names in hockey analytics, but what does that matter? Well, let’s compare him to each of them.

Caption: Hero Chart via ownthepuck.blogspot.ca

Although Doughty plays significantly more than Krug, Krug is actually a better shot generator on the back end and is a better producer of primary assists. Granted, Doughty is the superior shot suppressor, but that is not Krug’s game.

Caption: Hero Chart via ownthepuck.blogspot.ca

Subban is a better goal scorer than Krug, but Krug is the superior shot generator and primary assist generator. Most importantly, however, is that they are both similar in terms of shot suppression.

 

Caption: Hero Chart via ownthepuck.blogspot.ca

Erik Karlsson is far and away the best defenseman in the game. That is unquestionable. He obviously plays more than Krug and is a significantly better goal scorer. The two are quite similar in terms of shot generation and primary assists, but Krug is actually a BETTER shot suppressor.

Caption: Hero Chart via ownthepuck.blogspot.ca

Finally, the wily veteran of the group only scores better than Krug in terms of shot suppression. Krug is better in terms of goal scoring, primary assist scoring, and shot generation, and is significantly better than Keith in the latter two.

Well, I could have cherry-picked those four to compare to Krug in order to portray him in a favorable light. So, let’s compare him to a few archetypes.

Caption: Hero Chart via ownthepuck.blogspot.ca

Krug continues to play lower minutes than your typical #1 defenseman, but is better than a typical #1 defenseman in all metrics, save for shot suppression, where he compares quite similarly.

Caption: Hero Chart via ownthepuck.blogspot.ca

When compared to a typical #2 defenseman, Krug is far and away a better player, measuring almost dominant regarding shot generation and primary assists.

Caption: Hero Chart via ownthepuck.blogspot.ca

Krug and a typical 2nd Pairing Defenseman? Not even close.

So, according to everything presented above, Torey Krug is an elite, #1 defenseman in today’s NHL. So, why is he so underrated? Well, a large portion of his problem stems from his situation. Krug has had to drag his defensive partner around with him for the majority of his career. As you can see below, he has not been gifted with a stellar situation to maximize his abilities and has been paired with some of the least productive and effective defenseman the Bruins have rostered since he broke into the league in 2012-13. The first graphic compares the relative expected goals for percentage for each defenseman that has suited up for at least 1000 minutes in the black and gold in Krug’s career to the player’s relative CorsiFor Percentage, which is the percentage of time the player had a positive impact on puck possession while he was on the ice relative to the other players around him.

I have highlighted Krug and the best/worst of the group. The size of the bubble for each player corresponds to the percent of the time on ice each player played relative to the total minutes he was dressed for. Based on that, you can see that players like Colin Miller (surprise, surprise) and Zach Trotman (legitimate surprise) were heavily underutilized in their Bruins’ careers, while Dennis Seidenberg, Kevan Miller, and Matt Bartkowski have been relied on to do far more than they are capable of. Brandon Carlo looks lonely down there with a negative relative CorsiFor Percentage, but a fairly good relative expected goals for percentage.

Caption: Data courtesy of Corsica.hockey, graphic by Spencer Fascetta

For some perspective, here is the distribution of relative expected goals for percentage and relative CorsiFor Percentage for the specific defense pairings Krug has been a part of since breaking into the league. He has played with 11 different partners in that timeframe. This time, games played is the size of the bubble. As you can see, a majority of his partners have created very low numbers, and are clustered near the zeros of each axis, with the ill-fated Seidenberg/Krug pairing the only one falling fully in the negative (and far into the negative at that). One only wishes that the Colin Miller/Krug pairing could have been given more time together, because they were far and away the most effective pair, and were nearly dominant on the ice when together.

The other important tidbit to note in this graphic is the size of the bubbles. As stated above, these are relative to the number of games Krug played with each partner. The largest bubbles all exist in the lower left of the graph, with poor relative CorsiFor Percentage and relative expected goals for percentage, and they get smaller as the metric get better. This further illustrates Krug’s plight on the back end, as he has very rarely been put in a position to be successful.

Caption: Data courtesy of Corsica.hockey, graphic by Spencer Fascetta

Finally, how does Krug match up league-wide in this sense? Well, I took the same measurements, expected goals for percentage and relative CorsiFor Percentage, and applied a 3000 minutes time on ice limit on the data to only look at players that played a significant amount of time for their team(s) over the past 6 years. I also added the condition of the quality of competition each player played against per that time on ice. This is what creates the bubble size. I highlighted Krug, as well as the four we discussed above – Keith, Subban, Karlsson, and Doughty. I also highlighted Mark Giordano, who is pretty close to perfect in this analysis, as well as former Bruins Andrew Ference (yet another guy who was not very good but got plenty of ice time to work with, and Dougie Hamilton. Dan Girardi is the plight of all analytics people (Kris Russell is a close second), so I have highlighted him for context as well.

Caption: Data courtesy of Corsica.hockey, graphic by Spencer Fascetta

As you can see, although Krug plays against slightly weaker competition, he still is among the upper echelon of defensemen in this league and compares very favorably to names like Doughty and Keith. If only we found a way to keep Dougie…

So, is Torey Krug a #1 defenseman in this league? Unequivocably yes. Why is he underrated? Well, the hockey community loves to hate in Boston, he was an undrafted college free agent signing, and, to be frank, he’s small. But he never shies away from physicality, he has been known to drop the gloves when necessary (see Andrew Shaw for both).

Oh, and in case you forgot, he can do things like this…

Many thanks to Corsica for providing the data used to create my own Viz for this piece, to OwnThePuck.blogspot.ca for the use of their excellent Hero Charts, and a special thanks to Andrew Berkshire for allowing the use of his personal graphics from a piece he wrote earlier this year for Sportsnet on the Top 23 Defenseman in the NHL. He also goes into an incredible amount of detail on the specifics of these metrics, how they are comprised and calculated, and the way in which he aggregated each numerical value in order to reach the broad and encompassing values used in the graphics themselves. Please take a minute to follow him on Twitter @AndrewBerkshire, and check out his work at Sportsnet as well. He is an excellent source for hockey analytics analysis and news.

Please follow ME on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey, find me on YouTube @PuckNerd for hockey news, analysis, and my newest creation, BFR or Bruins Fan Reactions after nearly every B’s game. Looking forward to your feedback!

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BFR1 – Game 23 – Bruins Stayin Alive

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                        Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

Well. That was interesting. The B’s came out on top of the Lightning. They beat the top team in the league while missing half of their preseason top 6 forwards. Rask is back on track? Also, there were shenanigans. Par for the course. PuckNerd has the story…

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Rask Gets First Win Since Nov. 6th

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Photo Credit: Press Image (Lehtikuva – AFP)

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

The criticism about Tuukka Rask’s recent play has some proof to back it up with Khudobin matching his win total of 7 from last season in 5 games less then it took him last year. But just when you thought that Rask would be held off the ice until Khudobin lost, Bruce Cassidy sent him in against the Edmonton Oilers. After letting in three goals on 35 shots, Cassidy still had enough confidence to put him in against the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins defense was a big part of Rask’s success last night, needing to stop only 19 of 21 shots. Both goals were pretty tough too. A Sustr shot from the point where he was screened the majority of the time, and a trademarked Stamkos/Kucherov connection on the power play. A good win and confidence booster for Rask and the rest of the team.

The Bruins are coming up on a quick two-game road trip to Philadelphia and Nashville, and then back home to play Arizona. The Flyers have lost nine games straight, and have only won five games in a 20-game stretch. Nashville is playing the Bruins for the first time in Nashville and the last time this season (Barring any Stanley Cup Final meet up) They have won 10 of their last 12 games, climbing to third in the Central division. The Coyotes, after a terrible start to their season, have won 4 of their last 7 games, including an OT loss. All these teams have something in common. They are all playing on streaks. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good or bad one, the Bruins should worry about them all. Playing a team that’s winning night in and night out is tough because they have obviously found a groove and want to stay in that same groove for as long as possible. And playing a losing team is just as dangerous because the other team goes in thinking it’ll be a cake walk and end up being caught flat-footed. Hopefully, Boston plays their cards right and can come out with a couple points.

Injury Update –

The Bruins sit ten points back of Tampa Bay for the top spot in the East, and are currently one point out of third in the Atlantic behind Montreal, with four games in hand on Les Canadiens. Those four games in hand are a good sign for the Bruins. They are keeping pretty close with point totals compared to other teams in playoff spots, but they have played fewer games than most teams.

The Bruins also went out toy shopping today. Here are some of the highlights

I think Jake may have bought that bear for himself. Great cause for them giving back to the local community.

 

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

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BFR1 – Game 22 – Chalk Talk

By: Spencer Fascetta                                           Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

Well, that was tremendously bad… Join PuckNerd as he tries to explain where the Bruins may have gone wrong whilst experiencing ALL of the emotions…

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Bruins Prospect Update Nov 19th-Nov. 25th 2017

( Above Photo Credit:   NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred          Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Bruins Prospect Update Nov 19th-Nov. 25th 2017

American Hockey League – Providence Bruins

The Baby B’s played three games last week starting off on Sunday, November 19th with a 4-1 win over the Hershey Bears at the Dunk in Providence. B’s goals scored by Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (5th) Colby Cave (2nd) Austin Czarnik PPG (5th) Colton Hargrove (4th). Goaltender on-loan Jordan Binnington got the start making 17 saves on 18 shots.

On Wednesday, November 22nd the B’s put together a 2-1 overtime victory on the road against the Binghamton Devils. Bruins got a shorthanded goal by Kevin Porter his first of the season and the extra session winner by Colton Hargrove (5th). Zane McIntyre got the start in goal making 27 saves on 28 shots.

Saturday night the Baby B’s traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to play the Checkers and failed to show up against a team they haven’t played since 2011 losing by the score of 8-2. Providence goals scored by Ryan Fitzgerald (5th) and a power-play goal scored by Kenny Agostino (4th). Zane McIntyre got the second straight start of the week giving up all eight goals and was far from the focus of blame in the weekend contest making 35 saves on 43 shots.

East Coast Hockey League

Dan Vladar – Atlanta Gladiators

Goaltender Vladar appeared in two games last week starting on Sunday, November 19th against the South Carolins Stingrays losing 3-2 in overtime with the Bruins 2015 third round pick making 30 saves on 33 shots in front of the home crowd.

Wednesday, November 23rd the Gladiators once again played the South Carolina team but this time losing by the score of 2-1 in regulation. Vladar stopped 22 of 24 shots in the home game. Vladar is now 4-3-1 with a 2.86 goals-against-average, and .908 save percentage in nine games this season.

Ontario Hockey League

Jack Studnicka- Oshawa Generals

2017 second-round pick Studnicka has been back on track offensively getting points in all three games last week to tie his 2017-18 season point streak at five games. In 25 games played this season he has 7-17-24 numbers.

NCAA Men’s Hockey

Jeremy Swayman – University of Maine

The 2017 fourth-round selection played in two games last week as he and his Black Bear team played over in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the third annual Friendship Four Tournament. The freshman Anchorage, Alaska native gave up two goals making 34 saves on Friday, November 24th 3-0 loss to Providence College.

On Saturday, November 25th against RPI University, Swayman gave up another two goals making 18 saves for a Black Bear 4-2 victory. In eight games this season Jeremy is now 4-3-0 with a 2.50 goals-against-average, and .921 save percentage.

Ryan Donato – Harvard University

Ryan played in one game last week contributing an assist in a 4-4 overtime tie against the Boston College Eagles. Donato has now notched at least one point in all eight games played this year and has 4-6-10 numbers.

Cameron Hughes – University of Wisconsin

Cameron played in one game last week in a 4-2 win over Mercyhurst College and added an assist to bring his 2017-18 season-high point streak to three games. Hughes has 6-6-12 numbers and is one point behind fellow Bruins prospect and Badgers teammate Trent Frederic (13 Points) for fourth on the team.

Posted in AHL, Atlanta Gladiators, Boston Bruins, Bruins Prospects, ECHL, NCAA Mens Hockey, NHL, OHL, Providence Bruins | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bruins Set To Face Lightning In First Meeting Of Season

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Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara (USA Today Sports)

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

The Bruins, fresh off a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, now face an even tougher opponent in the East-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Bruins are at the 22nd place in the league, the Lightning have been near the top for quite some time. Trading places with St. Louis off and on, Tampa Bay has proven game in and game out that they are a force to be reckoned with this season.

A large part of the difference between teams is the differential in Goals For, and offensive production in general. The Lightning have the best Goals For per Game in the league at 3.74 Goals/game, outscoring the Bruins (2.73 GF/game) by an average of a whole goal a game. This is mainly due to the incredible play of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. They lead the league in points at 36 and 34. Kucherov has 17 goals, one behind Ovechkin for the lead, and Stamkos has the lead of assists at 26. They are some of the most creative players in the NHL right now.

 

Here are some of the highlights from one of their best games so far. The side to side passing accuracy of the Lightning is unlike anything I have seen before. Their vision opens up passing lanes that most people wouldn’t dare to think of passing it to that area. From what they have shown so far this season, they will be hard for any team to stop in the playoffs.

The Bruins are still in what seems to be an endless cycle of “Who’s The #1 Goalie?” after Rask’s loss to the Oilers. Now whether the blame falls on Rask’s play or the team’s play isn’t the question. The real issue is how can Rask gain confidence going into his next start, whenever that is, with all this criticism surrounding him? We have seen him after games still very happy and excited for a Khudobin win like all players should, but with the media cascading him with questions that he doesn’t have the answers to it seems as though he would be down on himself. But that is the complete opposite of what he’s doing. The locker room has no doubt that he is the #1 goalie, and that they need to play better. It’s just a matter of time until these things click.

The Bruins still have lots of games left to play, and after seeing that four-game burst of wins there is definitely potential for better play as a whole.

The Tampa Bay game is on Wednesday, Nov 29th, at 7:30 in Boston.

 

Sources: NHL.com, TSN.com, ESPN.com, mcubed.net

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

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Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast #73 11-27-17

By: Mark Allred    Follow Me/Us On Twitter @BlackAndGold277  @BlackNGoldPod

Welcome back for episode 73 in partnership with the Grandstand Sports Network. On this week’s show, we talk about the games of last week and schedule ahead as the month of November continues to be a challenging one for this team. We touch on some interesting topics as we use the great folks of social media to set the tone of our show agenda. We had the return of our Patreon What Ya Bruin Mailbag questions this week and the popular Weekly Prospect Update is back giving you all the info from the Bruins developing youth.

Please follow our new partners over at Grandstand Sports Network Twitter: @Grandstand_SNgrandstandsportsnetwork.com

If you’d like to support the show and are an Amazon or Fanatics, shopper, we ask that you, please use our blackngoldhockeyblog.com advertising partner banner located to the right of the screen in our affiliation link area. By going through our website every time you shop we get a commission.

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.

Follow us on Twitter at:
Mark Allred @BlackAndGold277
Rob Tomlin @Rob40bruins
Court Lalonde @courtlalonde
Podcast Account @BlackNGoldPod

Have a question or a comment for the hosts? Please send us an email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com

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!!

Posted in AHL, Atlanta Gladiators, Boston Bruins, Bruins Prospects, ECHL, NCAA Mens Hockey, NHL, OHL, Providence Bruins, QMJHL, WHL | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bruins Cehlarik Out Four Weeks

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred         Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced before today’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts that forward Peter Cehlarik will miss the next four weeks with an injury sustained to his left leg during a game against Pittsburgh on Friday, November 24th. B’s General Manager Don Sweeney mentioned in the team official twitter account below that the 6′-2″ 203-pound forward will be reevaluated after he gives the injury more time to heal.

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Cehlarik, a Zilina, Slovakia native was selected in the third round of the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft and had played in 16 career NHL games contributing 1-3-4 numbers. Spending a majority of his professional time with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League he’s appeared in 55 games posting 23-21-44 numbers, and 20-18-38 of those numbers were accrued in his first year of North American hockey as an AHL rookie in 2016-17.

Below is a video courtesy of New England Sports Network and the Stanley Cup of Chowder Twitter account.

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BFR1 – Game 21 – Cranberry Sauce

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                     Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

The Bruins push their win streak to 4 in a row, they go with a wonky lineup, Khudobin and DeBrusk are on fire, and I gained about 20 pounds just from Thanksgiving. These things and more in a very thankful edition of BFR!

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Baby Bruins Suffer Terrible Loss In North Carolina

( Above Photo Credit:  Bojangles Coliseum )

By: Mark Allred         Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins traveled to the state of North Carolina last night for the first time since 2011 to play the Charlotte Checkers and were completely unprepared dropping game one of the Mid-Atlantic road trip 8-2 to the hands of the top minor-pro affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. Both teams are back in action today for a 1 pm puck drop from the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. The B’s were outshot 43-17 and were horrendous on the penalty kill giving up three goals on eight chances.

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Providence goaltender Zane McIntyre who was left out to dry on many occasions giving up all eight goals was hardly the problem when you dissect the lopsided loss. The former 2010 sixth-round pick was pretty much the only player that showed up stopping 35 of 43 Checkers shots. The Baby B’s are shorthanded with a few key players up with the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins covering for injured players, but as much as it’s not easy moving forward with a constant shuffle of players, the goals-against team stat is taking a beating lately.

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After an AHL rookie season (2015-16) that McIntyre posted a record of 14-8-7 he bounced back after a solid offseason training regiment to be one of the best goaltenders in the top minor-pro league of the NHL to post a record of 21-6-2 with two shutouts and the recipient of the AHL’s best Save percentage of .930 during the 2016-17 season. The 2017-18 campaign, on the other hand, is not going as well in previous years as he’s 5-4-1 with a goals-against-average of 3.11 and a .892 Save %. With giving up eight goals last night, he has now let in 22 goals in his last five games.

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As healthy player return to the Boston Bruins team and covering players up with Boston on recalls, the Baby B’s can only get better and if you look at the previous three to four years this Providence team seems to not be all together on the same page until a new calendar year approaches and then turns it up for a Calder Cup Playoff push which they’ve appeared in for the last five years. Also important to know that this AHL Bruins roster had a few additions of rookie players to start this season and look to make adjustments wherever place in the lineup. As history tells in the recent past, I believe everything will be fine with a little chemistry and orchestrating from first-year Providence Head Coach Jay Leach as the team currently sits in the fifth position in the Atlantic Division with 20 points in 17 games and when thinking about the Eastern Conference Calder Cup Playoff picture just after the Thanksgiving holiday, the B’s sit in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

If you have the stomach to watch the highlights from last night’s Providence game, Click the link provided below.

http://ahl.neulion.com/ahl/video/providence-bruins-vs-charlotte-checkers/18544

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