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Analytics Profile: Patrice Bergeron

Expect all A’s, Get Something Different

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

This is the second of sixteen player profiles. If you missed the introduction, you can find that here. Special thank you to Corsica, Evolving Wild, Micah Black McCurdy, for the data and visualizations.

Shot Creation : A+

3 year WAR/82 : 3.11

3 year RAPM Z-Score : 1.88

When it comes to evaluating players, Patrice Bergeron is an interesting example. Given his reputation as a two-way forward, he’s seen as one of the best defensive forwards in the league. However, he’s no joke offensively. And given the fact good offense creates good defense and vice versa, it’s very hard to evaluate the different parts of his game statistically because he’s just so good at both.

Based on Manny Perry’s WAR model, only one player has accumulated more wins from shot creation over the last three seasons. That player is Alex Ovechkin, who played over 1000 more minutes and 51 more games. His WAR/82 just from shot creation would land him 16th among forwards over the last three seasons with at least 1000 minutes, ahead of Mark Scheifele.

Shot Suppression : A-

3 year WAR/82 : 0.15

3 year RAPM Z-Score : 2.88

Bergeron gets an A- and not an A+ here due to the fact that Perry’s model has him at about replacement level in this part of his game. This is an example of how different complex models can spit out different results. While Perry’s model finds Bergeron to be elite in shot creation and not suppression, Evolving Wild’s regularized adjusted plus-minus model finds Bergeron to be elite at suppressing shots and not necessarily at creating them.

When looking at a more traditional analytics stat like relTM CA60, a statistic that measuresthe affect a player has on teammates’ shot rates against, Bergeron ranks the best among Bruins forwards with at least 1000 minutes at 5v5. The closest player to Bergeron’s -7.96 (negative is a good thing for relTM CA60), is Vatrano at -3.83. The shade of doubt given by Perry’s WAR model is interesting, but it’s safe to say Bergeron’s shot suppression is still really good.

Offensive Shot Quality : C-

3 year WAR/82 : -0.15

It sounds crazy, but if there is a weakness, any at all, in Patrice Bergeron’s’s his shot quality. And I think that is more of a knock on the Bruins system rather than Bergeron himself. Claude Julien’s system became outdated by the end of his tenure in Boston. The Bruins were a huge target for those who dislike analytics during the 2016-17 NHL season, as the Bruins had very strong shot metrics, but couldn’t outscore teams, which ultimately led to Julien’s firing.

When we look at a less sophisticated statistic than WAR, Bergeron doesn’t look as bad. He has a positive on-ice impact on expected unblocked shooting percentage with a 0.06% boost. That is still very subtle, and not very noteworthy.

Defensive Shot Quality : C-

3 year WAR/82 : -0.05

Building on Bergeron’s weaknesses more, Bergeron’s defensive shot quality seems to also be quite weak. His relative expected unblocked save percentage is 3rd worst among Bruins forwards over the last three seasons at -0.34. However, the two worse forwards are Marchand and Pastrnak, his linemates.

Shot quality is something that will be studied heavily over the next few years, especially as new expected goals models are built. However, I think it’s safe to say, both offensive and defensive shot quality is a weakness in Bergeron’s game.

Author’s Comments

Bergeron’s weakness in shot quality was surprising to me, but makes sense. Bergeron is arguably the most dominant forward in the National Hockey League right now in out-possessing his opposition. Just by who he is, there surely must be something holding him back from scoring forever and ever.

Outside of his ability to outshoot opponents, offensively, Bergeron makes up the ground by being an above average shooter, and having the playmaking talent to get the puck to the other talented guys around him. Defensively, however, you rely entirely on your goalies to make up for negative impact, which they haven’t done for Bergeron.

Don’t let this fool you. Patrice Bergeron is still one of the best defensive players in the NHL, at least in my opinion. The WAR model raises question, and perhaps he isn’t as good as his reputation, but most metrics point to him being among the best.


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