Here’s the second installment of our Round-Robin Analytics Report:
In the NHL’s round-robin, the Boston Bruins will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals. All are formidable opponents that will provide the Bruins with an excellent opportunity to refine their game ahead of the playoffs.
Let’s take a closer look at how the Bruins matchup against each team through an analytics lens. Today we’ll review the Flyers, a team that may be flying under the radar as a Stanley Cup contender.
Head to Head Matchup Analytics
Using the VERSUS H2H Chart analytics, it’s easy to see that the Flyers are a formidable challenge for the Bruins. Five-on-five the Flyers have more offensive punch and, although their defense is not at the league-leading level of the Bruins, very strong defensive numbers.
On special teams, the Flyers analytics are very strong, but not at the same level as the Bruins. However, a closer look at the Flyer’s penalty-killing reveals that they have very strong penalty-killing units suppressing chances at a very high rate. In fact, the Flyers penalty kill runs at an impressive 5.78 expected goals against per 60mins (fourth-best in the NHL) which is stronger than the Bruins at 5.91 expected goals against per 60mins. The weak point in Philadelphia’s penalty kill is the goaltending, with a season penalty-killing save percentage of 83.9; fourth-worst in the league.
What really jumps out on the VERSUS chart is how hot the Flyers were before the Covid-19 pause in play. The yellow line indicators on the VERSUS chart shows their performance in the last ten games when the Flyers won nine games against high caliber teams in five-on-five performance and on the power play. On the other side, the Bruins performance was sagging in all categories.
Who’s More Special, Bruins Or Flyers?
Hockey has a rhythm with momentum swings, both within a game and within a season. At the season pause, the Flyers were hot, with a power play that was stronger than the Bruins. Include the fact that the Flyer’s penalty kill has slightly stronger underlying suppression numbers, the special teams battle may be much closer than most people would think.
What to watch for? Both the Bruins and Flyers are aggressive on the power play, meaning they are somewhat risky, allowing scoring chances against while on the man advantage. In fact, the Bruins allow the fifth most chances against (measured in expected goals against rate) while on the power play, as shown in the power play Risk / Reward chart below.
While the Bruins are aggressive on the power play, so are the Flyers on the penalty kill. They scored eight shorthanded goals and rank sixth on the True Penalty Kill Ranking which considers more variables than the standard NHL penalty-killing percentage.
Who to Watch?
Patrice Bergeron and Sean Couturier are among the best two-way forwards in the NHL, if not the two best. The two teams have a similar deployment with Couturier getting more and tougher, minutes including on the penalty kill as well as with more defensive zone starts. Both players have incredibly strong relative numbers with expected goals for percentages above 55%.
If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed the monster season being put together by Travis Konecny. With a low minutes played per game of 16.80, Konecny has put up some impressive offensive numbers including 3.3 points per 60 mins and 18 five-on-five goals which rank 19th overall among NHL forwards. With a 2.7 expect on-ice goals per 60 mins he outperforms Brad Marchand (2.5 expect on-ice goals per 60 mins)
It will be interesting to see how each team will come out of the pause. Will the Flyers be able to work off the hot momentum they had before the Covid-19 pause? Which team’s special teams will tilt the advantage? Can the Bruins win the five-on-five battle?
Drop the puck! Let’s find out!