It was a good start for the Black and Gold over this past week, starting with a solid 3-1 win over Tampa Bay, and then crushing a playoff team in the 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. While the scorelines might suggest similar days at the office for the defending Eastern Conference champions, it's apparent via the advanced statistics that the two games weren't really similar.
One of the points pounded home by the NESN staff during this game was how the Lightning were outshooting the Bruins, as at one point the shot count was about 2-to-1 in favor of the visitors, but this doesn't take into account how many corsi events--shot attempts--the Bruins had that either missed the or were blocked. To borrow a soccer term, the win wasn't against the run of play. In terms of SOG, the Bruins came up short 33-25.
In terms of shot attempts, however, the Bruins actually outdid the Lightning 54-53, which sort of ruins the narrative of stealing the game. It doesn't take away from the fact that Tuukka Rask was excellent, and obviously outplayed Anders Lindback, but it does highlight that the Bruins probably had around the same zone time as the Lightning did. Fenwick, which categorizes shot attempts minus blocked shots, told a similar story, with the Lightning edging the Bruins 41-38. The game was quite even, as Jack Edwards mentioned several times.
This all said, Tampa is usually a below average/downright bad puck possession team that still scores goals thanks to a good powerplay, Steven Stamkos's unreal ability to score once every five shots, and is generally pretty miserable defensively. This was a win with some positives--shutting down Stamkos and the Tampa PP were two of them--but it's generally not considered good to play even-chance hockey with the Lightning, especially at the Gahden.
Bruins 4, Red Wings 1
Welcome to the more difficult conference, Detroit. The Bruins flatout dominated a good team on Saturday, making it two wins in two games to kick off 2013-2014. The only thing that should be noted as a possible "take this beatdown with a grain of salt" footnote is that the Red Wings were playing the second day of a back-to-back, and were visibly gassed at the end of the game. Oh well, it's not like the Bruins won't have schedule losses (or tougher games, anyway) later on in the year.
Nonetheless, Detroit, which is usually a strong puck possession team, was coming off a 3-2 win off the team that was lucky enough to sign Anton Khudobin in which they, in turn, had come out firmly on top in puck possession. The Bruins, with a day of rest and at home, finished up 59-45 in Corsi and 50-34 in Fenwick. In 5v5 play with the game close, the Bruins finished with 60 percent of the Fenwick events. For those who are still new to this whole #fancystats gig, 5v5 Fenwick Close is considered one of the best predictors of team success.
Perhaps most impressively, the Bruins didn't let up either. In Hockey, there's usually a chance for what we pocket-protector-wielding-stats-aficianados call "score effects" to gum up the overall Corsi/Fenwick count. In effect, this means that a team that goes up 3-0 early will usually give up more chances for the rest of the game, as the trailing team places more emphasis on getting pucks to the net to try and even things up. The Bruins led this game from an early point, and reclaimed the lead quickly after Detroit tied the game at 1, and yet the shot attempts never really started to swing in the visitors favor.
Here's hoping that we see a little more of the Bruins team from this game going forward!
I'm prefacing this bit by letting you all know that as a fan, I love Dennis Seidenberg. At one point, I erroneously thought he was better than Chara (I, like so many Bruins fans, took Chara's ridiculousness for granted). He was one of my favorite players to watch during the 2011 cup run. I like watching him play a physical style of defense without feeling the need to drop to the gloves and take himself off the ice. He's a heady player.
That all said, Seidenberg being given four more years and $16 million is a pretty weak move by Chiarelli. While some people who have commented on the extension have a valid point about the fact that Seidenberg might get more on the open market, that distracts from the real issue; does having Dennis Seidenberg for four years at four million per actually benefit the Bruins?
The short is answer is probably yes. There's value in having a shutdown-style defensemen to pair with one of the Bruins good young blueliners. Puck movers such as Hamilton and Krug will probably be freed up to play their puck-possession style if Julien feels comfortable pairing off one of them with an aging Seids. The long term answer is really no--Seidenberg's puck possession have been going in the wrong direction since the playoffs two years, and by year two or three of the contract, there'll be a serious question about whether he can still handle tough minutes.
There's nothing wrong with a good player declining, of course. Seidenberg is 32 years old, past the usual peak for non-star players. We shouldn't be surprised that that means he has his issues trying to drive play in the right direction. Nor should we dislike Seidenberg because of it. The fact remains, though, that he's not really the type of player that it makes sense to give a four year extension. And then there's the fact that the best young organizational depth right now is on the blueline.
For a shutdown-type with eroding possession and scoring capabilities, this just seems very steep to me. A couple years would've made more sense if Chiarelli wanted to hedge his bets on Bart, Morrow, Hamilton, and Krug. Four is just too many for a guy who's clearly starting to feel his age.