A LOOK AT THE BRUINS BLUELINE FOLLOWING THEIR EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

Prior to the 2020-2021 season, the questions surrounding the Bruins blueline was “who is going to replace Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug?” As it turns out, the defensemen held their own, especially with the injury plagued season and it was well above average after the arrival of Mike Reilly at trade deadline.

Enter the 2021-2022 season and the question remains the same – only the names have changed. Who is going to replace Kevan Miller and Jeremy Lauzon, especially on the penalty kill and toughness department?

Well, it may be a small sample size – being just 6 exhibition games so it’s hard to decipher anything really. But for the sake of argument, we will just look at the numbers.

Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk have always been analytic darlings when paired together. As they should be. It is surprising to see that McAvoy’s and Grzelcyk’s numbers are actually better when they are apart. In fairness to them, those numbers come by playing just 7:30 in even strength time together. So, like I said, small sample size.

TOICF%FF%GF%xGF%HDCF%HDGF%PDO
McAvoyWithGrzelcyk7:3061.5458.33100.0051.7950.000.001.000
McAvoyw/outGrzelcyk38:4261.1161.7666.0262.5062.500.001.000
Grzelcykw/outMcAvoy40:5866.1065.3850.0074.2660.0050.000.970

McAvoy’s most regular partner through the exhibition schedule has been offseason free agent signee Derek Forbort. It may come as a surprise, maybe even a shock, to see that both players actually do better when not paired together. But let me repeat myself: small sample size.

TOICF%FF%GF%xGF%HDCF%HDGF%PDO
McAvoyWithForbort33:0458.5460.710.0067.1366.670.001.000
McAvoyW/outForbort13:0765.3861.11100.0055.1350.000.001.111
ForbortW/outMcAvoy10:4678.5778.57100.0094.31100.001.001.167
             

 As for Grzelcyk, the idea is to have him rotate between Connor Clifton and McAvoy, depending on game situation and opponent. But the pair only played 10:43 together 5vs5. Are you ready for this? The pair were actually better when apart in most statistics. Yet again, small sample size.

TOICF%FF%GF%xGF%HDCF%HDGF%PDO
GrzelcykWithClifton10:4342.1142.1150.0064.6957.1450.001.024
Grzelcykw/outClifton37.4573.5873.330.0074.2360.000.001.000
Cliftonw/outGrzelcyk62:0055.1357.14100.0064.8755.56100.001.120

Another pair that played well together last season was Reilly with Brandon Carlo – that is, when Carlo wasn’t injured.  And through training camp and in some exhibition games, they have almost been glued at the waist. But once again, their analytics are better apart than together for the most part.

TOICF%FF%GF%xGF%HDCF%HDGF%PDO
ReillyWithCarlo24:0455.2654.2933.3350.7522.220.000.890
Reillyw/outCarlo21.5260.9857.14100.0066.6770.00100.001.154
Carlow/outReilly19:2873.6871.430.000.1533.330.001.000

What does this tell us? Not much really. It doesn’t take into consideration things such as quality of competition, who the opponent was and what type of lineup they used that night. So, it shouldn’t be a going concern. But, if the trend continues once the puck drops a week from Saturday and the games actually have some meaning, then it may be time to reconsider how the pairs line up.

You may be asking yourself why I am wasting my time with this. Well, the answer is an easy one. Someone somewhere will eventually quote the analytics and say this defenseman should not be paired with that defenseman because the analytics say they aren’t a good match. I just wanted to get ahead of it personally.

Of course, there will be those that completely disagree, and they have a right to do so. All I ask is that everyone use their own judgement and the information in front of them.

Here’s a look at most of the defensemen that took part in exhibition games and their stats regardless of who they were paired with. Big thanks to Natural Stat Trick for the wonderful work that they do:

TOICF%FF%GF%xGF%HDCF%HDGF%PDO
McAvoy46:2161.1960.87100.0062.5360.000.001.043
Carlo43:3361.4059.1833.3356.2125.000.000.914
Reilly45:5758.2355.5660.0058.0147.3733.331.020
Grzelcyk48:1965.2864.0650.0070.4958.8250.000.979
Clifton62:4352.5853.6680.0064.8256.0080.001.093
Forbort43:4963.6466.67100.0075.9477.78100.001.050
Moore36:4560.7168.4266.6769.0071.4366.670.944
Lyle32:1962.7565.850.0062.1066.670.000.727
Ahcan32:3441.1841.670.0062.0955.560.001.000
Zboril40:3960.0061.36100.0065.5572.73100.001.118
Wolff25:2852.4957.690.000.9044.440.001.000
Vaakanainen30:2839.5842.860.000.8144.440.000.786

Follow me on Twitter @dominictiano

Published by Dominic Tiano

Following the Ontario Hockey League players eligible for the NHL Draft. I provide season-long stats, updates and player profiles as well as draft rankings.

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