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October 28, 2011
Driving To The Net
Patrice Bergeron And The Bruins Power Play, Part 3

by Timo Seppa

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In Part 2 of this article reprinted from Bruins Annual 2011-12, we saw how Boston's power play production has been in the bottom quartile of NHL teams in five of the past seven seasons, both due to lack of opportunities and poor efficiency. Now, let's focus in on Patrice Bergeron's production.

But what about Bergeron himself? Table 2 shows a breakdown of his goals scored and time on ice over the years, split over all situations (even strength, power play, short-handed and total).

Table 2. Bergeron's Goals Scored And Time On Ice (All Situations)

Season	 Age	Coach	  GP	ESG	PPG	SHG	TG  ESTOI   PPTOI SHTOI  TOI
2003-04  18	Sullivan  71	9	7	0	16  12:57   2:41  0:41   16:21
2005-06  20	Sullivan  81	18	12	1	31  13:28   4:42  2:25   20:36
2006-07  21	Lewis	  77	8	14	0	22  12:43   5:09  2:56   20:49
2007-08  22	Julien	  10	1	2	0	3   12:20   3:44  2:04   18:10
2008-09  23	Julien	  64	6	1	1	8   12:35   3:04  2:19   17:59
2009-10  24	Julien	  73	18	0	1	19  14:16   2:41  1:56   18:54
2010-11  25	Julien	  80	17	3	2	22  13:06   2:43  2:03   17:53

GP: Games played
ESG: Even-strength goals
PPG: Power play goals
SHG: Short-handed goals
TG: Total goals
ESTOI: Even-strength time on ice
PPTOI: Power play time on ice
SHTOI: Short-handed time on ice
TOI: Total time on ice

Keep an eye on the stat lines for 2005-06 and 2009-10. Both seasons, coincidentally, featured exactly 18 even-strength goals and exactly one short-handed goal. Putting aside some minor variances in games played and time on ice between those two seasons, we can yet again conclude that we're still dealing with the same Bergeron, pre-injury and post-injury, in terms of production.

But there's just one itty-bitty difference between these seasons: an impressive 12 power play goals in 2005-06 versus a grand total of zero power play goals in 2009-10. That one stat speaks volumes. With that magnitude of a difference, we're not talking about a few bad bounces vs. a few lucky bounces between the two campaigns. Clearly, something's been going on recently, and it's only partially explained by decreased power play minutes, as seen in Table 3.

Table 3. Where Has Bergeron's Power Play Time Gone?

Season	Coach	PPTOI 	PPO (NHL)	PPO	Exp.	Lost–PPO  Lost–Usage
2006-07	Lewis	5:09	4.9		5.0	5:09	---	  ---	
2007-08	Julien	3:44	4.3		3.9	4:32	0:13	  0:34
2008-09	Julien	3:04	4.2		3.8	4:25	0:12	  1:09
2009-10	Julien	2:41	3.8		3.2	3:58	0:16	  1:00
2010-11	Julien	2:43	3.5		3.2	3:43	0:09	  0:50

PPTOI: Bergeron's power play time on ice per game
PPO (NHL): Number of power play opportunities per game, average NHL team
PPO: Number of power play opportunities per game, Boston
Expected: Expected PPTOI compared to 2006-07, adjusted for league PPO level only
Lost–PPO: PPTOI lost due to decreased power play opportunities (vs. 2006-07)
Lost–Usage: PPTOI lost due to lesser usage by Julien (vs. 2006-06) 

In his sophomore and junior years, under Sullivan and Lewis, Bergeron averaged a whopping five minutes of power play ice time per game (PPTOI). This time on the man advantage has dropped significantly under Julien to fewer than three minutes per game over the past two seasons.

Part of the explanation is the ever-decreasing number of penalties being called in the NHL, a significant factor that's not well recognized by fans or mainstream media. In the rules crackdown following the Lockout, an average NHL team could expect 5.9 power plays per game in the scoring-inflated 2005-06 campaign. But that number has steadily decreased each season, to the point where there were actually fewer penalties per game being called in 2009-10 (3.8) and 2010-11 (3.5) than there were in 2003-04 (4.1), before the work stoppage. Consequently, 5:09 of power play ice time in 2006-07 was proportional to 3:43 in 2010-11 ("Expected"), and sure enough, that decrease accounts for a good chunk of Bergeron's lost power play time.

Bergeron lost another 10-15 seconds per game due to Julien's Bruins drawing less penalties ("Lost–PPO") than the 2006-07 Bruins, which excelled at that skill (but not much else). In addition, Bergeron has lost roughly a minute per game of power play time based on the Julien's decisions to utilize him less frequently ("Lost–Usage"). Of course, this is partially understandable with an increased number of skilled players.

This accounts for Bergeron's decreased opportunities on the man advantage, but there's still the more puzzling question of his decreased effectiveness.

In Part 4, we'll wrap up our study and make some conclusions.

Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Timo by clicking here or click here to see Timo's other articles.

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