Comparing the Blackhawks and Bruins: analysis by their playoff numbers
As the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks prepare to face off against one another in Chicago on Wednesday night, let's take a look at both teams by their playoff numbers thus far.
Boston has had 22 players dress in 16 games. Their top two scorers (Krejci and Horton) are not their top regular season scorers. (Their top scorers, in order, during the regular season were Marchand , Krejci/Seguin/Bergeron ). There is a gap in production after those two, although the next four top scorers (Marchand, Lucic, Bergeron, Chara) are much closer in scoring. The Bruins have 6 players with an average TOI of over 20:39; their highest is Chara with 29:21, who plays 5:11 more/game than the next highest player (Seidenberg, 24:10).
The Bruins are 56% for FOW, just slightly less than their regular season (56.4%). Unfortunately for Boston, they also had the largest number of giveaways in the playoffs (168).
Chicago has had 21 players dress in 17 games. Their top five scorers (Sharp, Hossa, Kane, Bickell, Keith) are nearly even in scoring. Three of these players were among the top five scorers for the Blackhawks in the regular season (Kane , Hossa , Keith ). The Blackhawks have 5 players with an average TOI over 20 minutes (21:02+); only Duncan Keith breaks 23, with 25:42.
The Blackhawks are just 47% on the faceoff dot in the playoffs, down from 50.8% in the regular season. This hasn't seemed to slow them down, however, as they've led the league in playoff takeaways, with 144. It hasn't made much of a difference, either - the Kings dominated Chicago every game on the dot!
Both teams have five players who have picked up the lion's share of PIM. For Boston, it has been Marchand, Lucic, Chara, Thornton, and Kelly; for Chicago, it's been Keith, Shaw, Rozsival, Bolland, and surprisingly, Toews.
Looking at the power play percentages, Boston is 2% "better" on the power play, a difference of just one more goal scored. Digging into that deeper: the Bruins had 45 PP opportunities compared to Chicago's 51, in one less game.
On the flip side of that, Chicago has been short-handed 58 times, the most of anybody in the playoffs, and has a 94.8% PK, allowing just 3 PPG. The Bruins were a man short 52 times, and allowed 7 PPGs, for a 86.5% PK.
Some interesting numbers to look at: shots for and shots allowed. Chicago has averaged 32.5 SOG/game in the playoffs (up from 31.1/regular season); while Boston has gotten 36.4 SOG/game (up from 32.4/regular season). Where it gets interesting: Boston has allowed 32.9 shots against/game in the playoffs (up from 28.6/regular season), while Chicago has kept opponents to just 28 SA/G, barely up from their 26.2 in the regular season. Chicago's accuracy is also better, with 18% less missed shots than Boston.
Can Chicago's tighter defense help lower Boston's goals/game average of 3.12? Will Boston's slightly looser defense push up Chicago's production, currently 2.76 G/G? Will Chicago's playoff run through the stingier defenses of the Wild (allowed 3.4 G/G), Red Wings (2.29 G/G), and Kings (2.8 G/G) pay off for them as they face Boston? Boston was high-scoring against the Leafs (who allowed 3.14 G/G), Rangers (3.2 G/G), and the Penguins (3 G/G), but can they repeat that against the Blackhawks, who have allowed just 1.94 GA/G?
The two teams' goalie numbers are photo-finish as well: In 16 games, Boston's Tuukka Rask has allowed 1.75 GAA/game with a .943 sv% and 2 shutouts; Chicago's Corey Crawford went 1.74 GAA/game with .935 sv% and 1 shutout in 17 games.
Despite having one of their top players (Toews) repeatedly shut down and being "out-muscled" by the three teams they've played against, the Blackhawks have repeatedly proven their depth and skill, playing whatever style of game has been required in order to win, be it speed or physical - and they still haven't even played their very best hockey.
It seems like many hockey pundits are ready to hand the series over to the Bruins before any games are even played, due mainly to two factors: Boston goalie Tuukka Rask and huge defenseman Zdeno Chara.
They may want to reconsider once the puck drops.