We all know the issues the Bruins have had this year putting the puck in the net. Last year this wasn’t an issue, as the Bs finished 5th in the league in goals-per-game. This year? 23rd. Thank God for Tuukka Rask and the fact that the Bs are 7th in goals against, up from 19th a year ago.
So what’s the issue? Well, in his weekly 30 Thoughts column, SportsNet Canada’s Elliotte Friedman posits that it’s essentially bad luck:
“Do you know who is the worst shooting team in the NHL? Boston. The Bruins are just 6.9 per cent. Buffalo, Colorado and Florida are next worst at 7.3. Only one team this decade shot less than seven per cent for a full season — the 2014-15 Arizona Coyotes, also 6.9.”
Then there are these shooting percentage numbers:
“Brad Marchand (career 14), is at nine. Patrice Bergeron is down from 10 to 5.4. Injured Matt Beleskey from 9.4 to 4.5. Jimmy Hayes from 10.8 to 3.7. Torey Krug from 4.1 to 0.9.”
0.9% is also known as a “Blutarski.”
Bruins GM Don Sweeney isn’t necessary buying the bad luck reasoning:
“You can look at shooting percentages and say, ‘Well, eventually it’s going to come along.’ It doesn’t come around if you miss the net.”
Can’t argue with that logic. But one of Sweeney’s other points may actually be coming to fruition:
“You’d like to think everything will regress back to the mean and bear out,” Sweeney said. “You stick with that process and the conviction of that process.”
Here is where that might be what is happening. Marchand is now up to 11.8%, Torey Krug is now 1.6% (hey, it’s still a 17% bump!). Patrice Bergeron is still at 5.2% but you know that will rise a bit. And in the last four games the Bruins have had 15 goals, an average of 3.75, albeit against some decent-to-bad defensive teams. But hey, who’s counting?
In addition, and somewhat contrary to Sweeney’s point about missing the net, the B’s take 54.5% of all shots in games they play, and they are second in the league in shots per game, behind only Pittsburgh. They’re 4th in faceoff percentage. What does this all mean? It means the Bs have the puck, a lot, and take a ton of shots that hit the net, they’re just not going in. A PP that’s only scoring at a 15% clip doesn’t help, which is down from 20.5% last year.
So is it as simple as bad luck? Maybe. Remember last week when they hit three posts against Edmonton? But could the Bs also use some forward help? YES. They would also obviously benefit from current guys picking it up. Frank Vatrano has helped, with three goals since his return and who is shooting at a 12% clip.
The hope is that some guys get going a bit, some guys keep it going, score a bit more on the PP (two last night helps) and Sweeney is able to swing a deal for some forward help.
Seems like a lot. And it probably is. But if they start to score bit more consistently, then the Bs could really have something.