In Part 1 of this article, reprinted from Bruins Annual 2011-12, we concluded that Bruins' ace two-way center Patrice Bergeron had been an elite power play performer in his first three seasons with Boston. We were left wondering why that production had seemingly evaporated.
For some context, Table 1 has an overall look at Boston's much-maligned power play over the seven-season span of Bergeron's tenure with the Bruins.
Table 1. Bruins' Power Play Since Bergeron's Rookie Year
Season Coach PP% Rank PPO/game Rank PPG/game Rank
2003-04 Sullivan 16.0 17 3.7 30 0.59 26
2005-06 Sullivan 14.8 25 5.1 28 0.76 29
2006-07 Lewis 17.2 19 5.0 6 0.87 15
2007-08 Julien 17.6 16 3.9 27 0.68 23
2008-09 Julien 23.6 4 3.8 27 0.90 5
2009-10 Julien 16.6 23 3.2 29 0.54 27
2010-11 Julien 16.2 20 3.2 27 0.52 26
PP%: Power play conversion percentage
Rank: Power play percentage, rank
PPO/game: Power play opportunities per game
Rank: Power play opportunities per game, rank
PPG/game: Power play goals per game
Rank: Power play goals per game, rank
Now, it's not news to Bruins fans that the power play has been an annual struggle. Over the past seven seasons, Boston has had exactly one season of strong production and one season of mediocre work to go along with five poor seasons. With that in mind, their well-publicized playoff goal drought last postseason doesn't seem so shocking, does it?
Sifting through the numbers in more detail, it's not surprising to see that Boston hit a low of 14.8% during the struggles of 2005-06, given the fact that they finished with 74 points that season, fifth-lowest in the NHL. That said, the Bruins dominant 23.6% rate in their near-Presidents' Trophy winning 2008-09 campaign was a bit of an anomalya stroke of good luckespecially when you see the more representative 17.6% and 16.6% rates to either side of that season. But regardless of the small peaks and valleys, we can conclude that Boston has consistently been a below-average power play over the recent past, regardless of the man behind the bench.
Yet while we're most commonly accustomed to judging a team's power play production by PP%, it tells only part of the story. The other, less commonly considered piece of overall power-play production is exactly how many opportunities a team receives, based on how many penalties it's drawing. And things look even uglier for the Bruins here. Power play opportunities, or a lack thereof, is an area where Boston has been among the dregs of the NHL, ranking between 27th and 30th in opportunities per game for six of the last seven seasons.
A team's opportunities per game and conversion percentage interact to generate the team's output in power play goals per game. Both poor power play percentage and a low number of drawn penalties have dragged down the Bruins' overall production. Other than one season with a high number of opportunities (2006-07 under Lewis) and the one season with the great power play percentage (2008-09, under Julien), Boston has ranked in the bottom quartile in power play goals in five of Bergeron's seven seasons with the club. Yes, it's been bad no matter how you slice it.
But what about Bergeron himself?
We'll take a look at the centerman's individual production on the man advantage in Part 3.
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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