The Boston Bruins host the Florida Panthers in a battle of teams that have some similarities including super star two-way centers and deep rosters. But lets take a closer look at how each team has played so far this season to get a better understanding of how they matchup.
I’ll use the VERSUS tool to compare the Bruins and Panthers performance relative to the rest of the league. The blue bar indicates league rank; the longer the bar, the better the team is performing in that category compared to all other NHL teams. The little yellow lines indicate the team’s rank in the last 10 games. The data at the beginning of the bar is the raw data for the category.
The biggest difference between the two teams is the Panthers struggles on five-on-five defense. The team is near the bottom of The NHL in goals allowed at 3.28 per 60 mins; that’s more than 1 goal per 60 mins more than the Bruins allow. A closer look reveals that the chance-suppression rates are not too bad. The core issue for the team’s inability to keep the puck out of their net is save percentage.
Aside from this five-on-five defense issue, the Panthers performance is solid and remarkably similar to the Bruins with incredible special teams and one of the best five-on-five offences in the league.
Excellent Power Plays
A quick look at the True Power Play Rank graphic below courtesy of waveintel.org, shows that the Panthers may not have the same success as the Bruins, but their power play is, nonetheless, one of the best in the league and has gotten better in the last 10 games.
The Panthers power play is not only good, but it’s also conservative. They do not give up nearly as many chances against while on the power play as the Bruins, who lead the league allowing more than 10 scoring chances against per 60 mins. But they have yet to allow a shorthanded goal against this season. It should be noted that the Bruins led the NHL in shorthanded goals against last season with 15.
Special Penalty Killing
The Panthers also boast one of the better penalty kills in the NHL, and are not shy to attack while a man down producing over 8 scoring chances-for per 60 mins while on the penalty kill. They have two shorthanded goals this year. The Bruins have none, and their penalty kill is near the league average and has seen a dip in performance over the last 10 games.
As of late, the Panthers penalty kill has fallen off a bit too with underlying numbers that have sunk below the league average over the last 10 game as illustrate by the last 10 games yellow indicators on the VERSUS graphic at the top.
Key To Winning
The Bruins have been struggling a bit as of late, with a step back in five-on-five defence, and a slight regression on the special teams performance. Whether it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs hangover or not, they cannot take the Panthers lightly.
Based on the numbers, the Bruins will want to take advantage of the Panthers’ defensive struggles on five-on-five and exploit a penalty kill that has lost some confidence recently. They will need to watch for the Panthers’ aggressive penalty killers who look for opportunities to score while shorthanded.
This should be a tough battle. Enjoy.