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Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast Through 20 Games

O.K., so I’m still behind on some things around here.

Whether you’re new to DTFR or a long-time fan(?), you’re able to see the finished products around here and think “wow, that’s neat” and go about your day doing whatever the next thing on your mind happens to be.

You don’t have to wake up everyday to all the shot charts, player and team forecasts, expected points total models, Photoshop files, running list of game notes, podcast notes (yes, that’ll be back soon) and more that’s related to the day-to-day DTFR operations around here or other seemingly useless bits of information that may or may not see the light of day.

But that’s all the fun parts anyway. Hockey is my passion.

The long, grueling, season is counteracted by moments like Nathan MacKinnon underhand tossing Conor Garland’s helmet back to him and being fined $5,000 in the process.

Guess I’m going to have to start tracking how often that happens now.

In addition to everything mentioned above, you might not know that I’m constantly applying to jobs, so sometimes little things like this forecast write up gets put on the back burner until there’s a minute or two between games, guest appearances on other podcasts and more job applications.

Not trying to use anything as an excuse here, but please forgive me for being *checks notes* 15 games behind on the latest forecast, which will be irrelevant in another five games anyway, because it’ll be time to update Boston’s forecast through 40 games this season.

I do this all by hand in Microsoft Excel, so you know I’m not a real mathematician or statistician.

If you ask me to code something, I’ll ask you “what ‘R‘ you talking about? Get it? Did you see the pun I made there? Words, am I right?”

15 games ago, I updated each individual Bruins player’s forecast after writing my recap about Zdeno Chara’s first game back in Boston as a member of the Washington Capitals then eventually got around to updating the corresponding chart that you’ll see below.

Then I had to do that for whatever other teams I’ve been able to keep track of on time and I promise I’ll be writing about those forecasts… …eventually.

Oh and apply to more jobs.

Anyway, you probably don’t care about the life behind the screen, so let’s get to Boston’s forecast through 20 games, shall we?

As always, remember that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. I got a “C” in my Intro to Stats class back in my first semester of college, which was eight years ago this fall.

Between then and now, I’ve worked in live sports production (TV and radio) and been unemployed, which explains why I’m constantly applying to jobs.

First year players are impossible to predict until they’ve built up some time in the National Hockey League. Generally at least a game will suffice, but their numbers might look a little “inflated” (for the lack of a better term) until the season rolls on and their expectations fall back to Earth.

In other words, Zach Senyshyn is now forecasted for 18 assists in this latest forecast, but that shouldn’t surprise you since he only had two assists in six career NHL games over the last two seasons.

That will change in the 40-game update, since he’s played in at least seven more games between the time this report was originally intended to be done and the next one.

Remember that forecast is different from pace.

Finally, remember that there’s a lot of variables, like injuries, being a healthy scratch or on the taxi squad, other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, trades, sickness, COVID protocol, general superstitions, hot and cold streaks, etc. that can (whether scientifically proven or not) disrupt a player’s season.

None of these can be accounted for in Microsoft Excel’s forecast function.

In a perfect world, everyone plays a full season. Every player has a chance to live up to expectations, hit and/or exceed their mark or miss it by a little/a lot.

Hockey is a game made up of collective actions and sheer puck luck. It’s unpredictable, which technically defeats the purpose of this (so if you’ve made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back).


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 20 Games (36 Games Remaining)

David Pastrnak came back from offseason surgery and looked like he hadn’t missed a step, since his scoring prowess left an immediate impact on the team and kept him forecasted as the team’s leader in goals by season’s end with 26, though Boston’s forecasted points leader has now shifted from Pastrnak to Brad Marchand.

Marchand’s forecasted 23-31–54 totals lead Pastrnak’s 26-26–52 totals, while B’s captain, Patrice Bergeron is on track to round out the top-3 in scoring with 20-30–50 forecasted totals– good enough for the second-most assists on the roster, one behind Marchand’s 31 and three ahead of David Krejci’s forecasted 27 assists.

It’ll be fun to see just how much things have changed in the next forecast, since Krejci’s gone off in the assist department lately and Marchand missed a couple of games due to COVID protocol, but let’s save that speculation (or hindsight) for the 40-game report, O.K.?

On defense, Charlie McAvoy continues to lead the way with 7-29–36 forecasted totals, while Matt Grzelcyk (13 points) and Jakub Zboril (12 points) are the only other defenders expected to reach double-digit points totals.

That’s quite an area of concern for the Bruins.

Not so much in the “oh no, who might get taken by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft” sense, but rather, the general “oh no, this team is not as good as they were last year, but we expected that, so they still need to acquire a defender and more at the trade deadline this year” sense (especially if one of the younger blue liners like Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon or Urho Vaakanainen aren’t developing as fast or as well as Boston desires).

Nevertheless, what might be more pressing than ever before is the question of what comes next after Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak?

Rask (2.27-2.37 forecasted goals-against average, .914-.921 forecasted save percentage) is expected to have decent numbers this season if he can make a return to full health, while Halak (2.45-2.48 forecasted GAA, .910-.916 forecasted SV%) looks solid for a backup.

Yet, at the time of this writing, both goaltenders are out of Boston’s lineup– Rask due to injury and Halak due to COVID protocol.

Stay tuned for first impressions on Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman in the next forecast and what that might mean for the offseason’s plans with both Rask and Halak as pending-unrestricted free agents.

For a look at how things might have gone for the Bruins entering the 2020-21 season, feel free to read the original forecast through zero games played.