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The Bruins are dealing with some awful shooting percentage woes

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More than half the players on the roster are having below-average seasons.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

It feels somewhat like deja vu, writing about the Bruins scoring woes. But after a year in which they finished 5th in the league in scoring, the Bruins are faced with an inability to score. Statistically, the Bruins are all over the place right now. Some numbers say they should be quite good. Other numbers say they should be quite bad.

The most important number (32) has them barely in playoff position, just past the quarter pole of the season.

Consider:

  • The Bruins are first in the NHL in 5v5 CF% at 54.9%. This is very good, and means they are an excellent even strength possession team.
  • The Bruins are 21st in the league in 5v5 GF60 (1.99). This is bad.
  • The Bruins are 27th in the league in PDO, a stat that measures a team’s “luck” by combining team save percentage and team shooting percentage. The idea is that teams will generally regress/rise to 1.000; the Bruins are at 0.982.

The one that stands out the most, however, is shooting percentage.

The Bruins, as a team, are shooting at a 6.88% success rate in all situations; if you narrow it down to 5v5, they’re still 29th in the league at 6.15%; the only team worse (in both situations) is Buffalo.

This could mean plenty of things: the Bruins are having a statistically unlikely run of bad luck; they’re getting plenty of shots and shot attempts, but few of quality; or maybe a combination of the two.

But a look at the individual numbers reveals that the majority of the team is having far below average shooting success thus far this year, offering a glimpse into why the offense has been so anemic.

The numbers below reflect the differential between each player’s career shooting percentage (excluding this year, thanks to Chris Abraham) vs. this season’s shooting percentage; a “+” means he’s shooting better than average this year, while a “-” means he’s shooting worse, by the percentage that follows. These numbers are as of Sunday night, prior to the Montreal game.

Above average

  • Dominic Moore: +14.59%
  • David Pastrnak: +10.64%
  • Tim Schaller: +4.11%
  • Colin Miller: +0.80%

Below average

  • Jimmy Hayes: -9.31%
  • Riley Nash: -8.04%
  • John-Michael Liles: -6.33%
  • Kevan Miller: -5.63%
  • Patrice Bergeron: -5.52%
  • Brad Marchand: -5.17%
  • Matt Beleskey: -5.15%
  • David Krejci: -4.83%
  • Adam McQuaid: -3.68%
  • Torey Krug: -3.53%
  • Zdeno Chara: -3.18%
  • Joe Morrow: -3.13%
  • Ryan Spooner: -1.91%
  • David Backes: -0.62%

Some of these numbers are impacted by the powerplay being as impotent as it has been (27th in goals for per 60 minutes this year), but even expanding the sample size to all shot attempts, and limiting it to just 5on5 situations (this also limits the sample size from 2007 onward, since the NHL did not track these differences until then) this doesn’t make the Bruins look much better

David Pastrnak 7.14%

Dominic Moore 5.20%

Tim Schaller 1.39%

Just three Bruins are shooting better than their averages, with the rest shooting below

David Backes -0.17%

Colin Miller -1.11%

Ryan Spooner -1.46%

John-michael Liles -1.51%

Adam Mcquaid -1.64%

Kevan Miller -1.66%

Zdeno Chara -1.88%

David Krejci -2.05%

Joe Morrow -2.17%

Torey Krug -2.21%

Patrice Bergeron -2.25%

Matt Beleskey -2.39%

Brad Marchand -2.40%

Riley Nash -5.04%

Jimmy Hayes -5.54%

Yeeeeesh. A lot of names high on that minus list are the guys who have heard whispers (or shouts) of “underperforming” this year. Goal scoring wise, some players don’t deserve it.

Hayes, long a whipping boy because fans don’t like that a guy his size doesn’t hit/fight, has 42 shots on goal this season; if he was shooting at his career average, he’d have 5 goals, a far more respectable total than his lone tally.

Averages, of course, are going to change, and it’s not fair to say Hayes would “definitely” have those five goals in a normal year. Still, it’s worth considering that Hayes’ struggles, while frustrating, represent a highly unlikely result that will probably correct itself over time (be it here or elsewhere).

Bergeron is in a similar boat. Playing injured probably hasn’t helped, but Bergeron has 87 shots and shoots slightly above 10% for his career. That would double his goal total from 4 to 8, taking some of the heat off of Bergeron’s shoulders.

Equally disconcerting is what David Pastrnak is doing. While everyone has been electrified by what the kid has done so far this year, he’s not shooting around 30% for the rest of the season.

Pastrnak’s hot streak has been keeping the Bruins afloat; they need other guys to snap out of it before he comes back to Earth, or the hard times will continue.

So...now what?

The shooting percentage numbers paint the picture of an incredibly frustrated team, one that’s really struggling to put the puck in the net.

However, the numbers say that for most of these guys, the pucks should start going in at some point. The Bruins are in a pretty good spot in terms of possession #s, and with a low PDO, they should progress in terms of team-wide shooting percentage soon.

The main takeaway: patience.

Yes, the Bruins need a top-4 defenseman. They could use another top-6 forward.

But if you believe in the numbers, things should start to even out soon. For some teams, that’s not necessarily a good thing; for the Bruins, it should mean better fortunes.