In case you're like me and believe that the Bruins got exceedingly lucky during their run to the Stanley Cup (i.e. not having to tangle with a full Montreal squad, avoiding Chris Pronger in round two and not having to face off with a plush Penguins lineup in round three as they would have had Crosby and Malkin been healthy, Vancouver losing 932,499,321,842 defensemen in the Finals), here's more proof that Claude Julien's doing something right here in Boston:
The Bruins led the NHL in Quick-Strike Goals against in 2010-11.
This analysis, compliments of our friends over at The Checking Line, is informed by when teams allowed goals in relation to either the start of a period or time following a goal during the course of play. A quick-strike goal is one scored either
- In the first 1:30 of a period
- 2:30 after a goal, either for ("consecutive") or against ("retaliation")
In 82 regular-season games, Boston allowed just 36 quick-strike goals, tying them with - not surprisingly - the New York Rangers
While it seems like one of those niche numbers that statheads pore over in the dead of summer out of pure boredom or perhaps a desire to increase traffic to their blog, it's a telling number: only three teams (Philadelphia, Detroit, Tampa) in the bottom ten in the league in quick-strike goals against made the playoffs, and just one of them (the Lightning
) made it past the second round.
Meanwhile, all but two teams (New Jersey, Calgary) in the top ten made it to the playoffs, with three of them (Boston, Vancouver, San Jose) advancing to their conference finals.
So is it just an argument for teams to commit more energy and scheming to the backcheck? TCL argues the correlation between propensity for allowing quick-strike goals and the talent of each team's netminder, validating the Flyers' last-place standing and the Bruins' top spot, to be sure, but offering little more.
It's worth noting that the Bruins' success rate suffered markedly in games when they allowed quick-strike goals - if my research is right, in the first three months of the season, they went an abysmal 4-16 in games when they allowed a quick-strike goal. The four wins? 7-4 over Pittsburgh, 6-3 over Dallas, 8-6 over Montreal and 3-2 over Edmonton. When you're averaging 9.75 goals in a game, chances are one might come right after another, so all but the Edmonton win are basically statistically negligible for the purpose of analysis.
That means the Bruins, who finished the season 46-36, went 42-20 in games in which they didn't allow a quick-strike goal.
So there's something to be said about the value of scoring early or scoring often.
And just maybe good ol' Uncle Jack is onto something when he reminds us that they don't ask how pretty, they just ask how many.