(Sportsnet.ca) – Do you know who is the worst shooting team in the NHL? Boston. The Bruins are just 6.9 percent. Buffalo, Colorado and Florida are next worst at 7.3. Only one team this decade shot less than seven percent for a full season — the 2014-15 Arizona Coyotes, also 6.9. What’s worse is that if you believe shots taken is a true indicator of possession, no one does it better. You name it — missed, blocked, unblocked, on goal — the Bruins have the highest percentages as compared to their opponents. The Bruins take 54.5 percent of all shots in games they play, slightly better than number-two Los Angeles.
If you like to read NHL news and notes everyday then you should add Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” to your must read list. He always gives great insider info on league wide happenings. This week Friedman featured the Bruins and how they’ve become a statistical anomaly.
Friedman talks about the “advanced stat” known as PDO. It’s essentially save percentage plus shooting percentage. Currently the Columbus Blue Jackets have the highest PDO (.932 sv% + .115 shot% = 1.046) compared to the Colorado Avalanche (.896 sv% + 0.073 shot% = 0.969) who own the worst PDO. It makes sense given Columbus is piping hot and Colorado is taking on water faster than the Titanic.
The idea behind PDO is that the further you drift from 1.000 the worse (unlocks) or better (lucky) things are going for you. You’re either getting more saves and pucks are going in, or you’re not. Over time, with hot and cold steaks in the NHL, you should average out closer to 1.000 instead of always being on a tear like the Blue Jackets.
How does this apply to the Bruins? It applies because their PDO is not moving. It’s not averaging out because their shooting percentage isn’t running its normal course. And it’s a rare case. In regards to those shooting percentages as quoted from Friedman’s piece, “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.”. They’re a statistical rarity. This just doesn’t happen.
This unique circumstance puts the Bruins in an awkward situation. Regardless of what people think of the talent on the roster the numbers should have started to gravitate toward the norm by now. Especially in the case of guys like Bergeron and Marchand. Yet instead it’s stayed stagnant which leads to less goals which leads tomore losses.
So what do the Bruins do? Do they stay the course? Do they make trades in haste? How long do you wait for the natural statistical correction to take place before you make some change? This is what has pushed the Bruins into a bit of a corner. This is what gets them thrown into the Gabriel Landeskog trade conversation. The Bruins have the highest possession percentage in the league based off of shot attempts but none go in. It makes no sense.
This goes back to my blog yesterday about the Bruins trade rumors. I generally don’t like the idea of trying to make a splash for Gabriel Landeskog because I think the Bruins would be pursuing it due to the anxiety of their scoring situation (shooting percentage) not making sense. Their shooting more than every single NHL team. Does getting Landeskog mean Bergeron, Marchand, and Krug’s shots suddenly start going in? No. There’s no correlation there and again, they can’t shoot more than they already are.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not against a change. A shake up isn’t the worst thing for this team. You could argue if the B’s are shooting a ton why not let Landeskog be the one shooting since others aren’t getting it done. I don’t disagree with that idea. But, I don’t trust the Bruins can land a guy like Landeskog without compromising the future. They’ve set a good tone for the future with their recent drafting and now a rare statistical occurrence could jeopardize it.
I’ve said all along I expect a correction is on the way for the Bruins in terms of pucks going in. I thought it was bizarre the first week of December when their shooting percentage made no sense and a month later I’m still confused by it. Certainly a bad power play, no Vatrano, Khudobin’s play, Pastrnak, Backes, Bergeron, and Beleskey all missing time with injury doesn’t help the overall record. Through it all they’ve remained in the playoff picture.
If I’m the GM unless something that makes too much sense pops up I’m not thinking major move until the last week of February if needed. I still believe pucks start going in more frequently well before then with the way the B’s continue to shoot. My bigger concern is the effort I’m seeing against weaker teams. But puck luck isn’t something you can trade for. I’m not willing to get stupid with my prized future assets over something I can’t explain.