My latest at BSMW Power Play, breaking down the Bruins' turnover troubles, and exposing Hal Gill as a traffic cone:
After nearly a month of the season, I find myself frustrated at what I perceive to be the Bruins greatest weaknesses: their inability to take care of the puck and defend in their own end, and back-breaking turnovers. Looking at the stats compiled by the NHL and available on www.nhl.com, I found that the Bruins take better care of the puck than I expected, and that the trouble on defense can be attributed in large part to the poor play of two veteran blueliners.
Because of the emphasis on divisional play this season, I have limited my comparisons to the five teams in the Northeast Division, except in one case outlined below. All statistics are through games of Thursday, October 27.
The Bruins don’t turn the puck over nearly as much as it seems.
While the Bruins have given the puck away at inopportune times, they have the best giveaway per game average in the division, giving the puck away less than six times per game (71 giveaways in 12 games) and taking it away nearly as often as they cough it up (67 takeaways). Among forwards, Sergei Samsonov is a team-worst –5 (9 giveaways, including a brutal turnover in Toronto Monday, setting up the game-tying shorthanded goal).
But three forwards have not turned the puck over once this season, with PJ Axelsson (+6), Glen Murray (+3) and Patrick Leahy (+2) yet to be charged with a giveaway. Tom Fitzgerald has also taken considerably more than he’s given, registering a +4 over the first 12 games. The team has combines for a total turnover ratio of –4.
Top 5 Forwards (NE Division through Thursday)
Bottom 5 forwards (NE Division through Thursday, including ties)
Hal Gill is as poor with the puck as he appears. Nick Boynton is not much better.
Among the 35 defensemen who have suited up in the Northeast Division this season, Gill is tied for second most giveaways, having turned the puck over 11 times. Only Montreal’s Sheldon Souray has more giveaways among defensemen. In fact, only 12 of the league’s 227 defensemen have more turnovers than Gill (Calgary’s Rhett Warrener has an NHL-worst 19 giveaways).
Compounding things further, Gill has only been credited with 2 takeaways in the first 12 games. His –9 turnover ratio is worst among all defensemen in the Northeast, and seventh worst across the entire NHL (Warrener also leads in that category at –13). Nick Boynton has hardly been better, his –6 turnover ratio is tied for fourth-worst in the division. The Bruins defensive corps as a whole is –15, all of which is attributable to Gill and Boynton. Kevin Dallman is a team-best +2.
Bottom 5 Defensemen (NE Division through Thursday, including ties)
Top 5 Defensemen (NE Division through Thursday)