Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Revving Up Round 2: Boston vs. Montreal (Scoring)

A little comparison of the two rivals ahead of the upcoming series.

First up, goal scoring. The data I have here is regular season. On the left, Boston, in the middle, Montreal. For the fudge I did with Vanek in the lineup, I thought it would be fair to include his 4 playoff games as well -- it beefs up the number of games.


The first thing to notice in this chart is the fact that Boston is very good offensively. To win the league, they scored the 3rd highest number of goals in the regular season. They were 3rd best in even strength goals as well. On the surface, this is discouraging, even without considering defense is their real strength. But a deeper dig gives some light.

For one thing, Boston probably sat among leaders in all goals for because they carried leads (perhaps not that heartening). If one looks at the weight the 3rd period goals give their total (>40% of all goals in the third), it's easy to imagine a lot of those goals being bonus goals that only added to leads against teams in a desperate chase. The Canadiens hold their own in 1st period goals for with the Bruins and are close in terms of scoring first. It may be that the Bruins used the defensive strength to make their offensive numbers look better as games went on.

Furthermore, look to who they scored on. The Bruins truly beat up on the lesser lights of the league with 89 goals for. Compare this to the gentle Canadiens who let the lower lights off with a mere 54.

In order to open the door of hope a little wider, I decided to take a look at the numbers I have been tracking since Thomas Vanek was acquired. As we know, Vanek himself has been a boon for the team. But to look at it in team terms is even more impressive. He has taken a team middling int he goalscoring pack to put it on a par with a top tier offensive team in the league.

The yellow on the chart indicates areas where the Canadiens with Vanek are actually the better team of the three compared. There's a lot of yellow, but one can see the clearest strength has been brought in to even strength scoring and overall scoring depth. In terms of ES play, the Canadiens vault way past the Bruin numbers with numbers that would lead the league.

The depth Vanek has created by knocking each forward down a line has resulted in more goals from more sources as well, as each enjoys a little bit better match up along the way. The pace has increased particularly with Desharnais (the benefit of 2 elite players to distract defenders), Gionta (finding lesser defensive coverage) and some of the depth beyond.

The net takeaway is that Boston's offense is to be feared. But that with Vanek, Montreal has a superb threat all its own. It's quite an even match right now, and Montreal hasn't even relied on the PP genius of Markov and Subban much yet...

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