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When an unstoppable force meets and immovable object

A quick preview of the numbers behind the Blues’ Stanley Cup Final

St Louis Blues v San Jose Sharks - Game Five Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I’m sharing a few charts that I normally share on Twitter. But considering this is the Stanley Cup Finals I want add some context around these numbers.

The first charts are what I call “momentum charts.” Essentially, what these charts help explain is whether or not a team’s trend is genuine or just a run of good or bad luck. First, the Blues’ trends during the playoffs should not really be a surprise to any Blues’ fans. They have consistently had below league average shot attempt suppression. Their shot attempt rates have been at league average. The goals against rate have been consistently under league average thanks to a consistent just above league average save percentage provided by Jordan Binnington. The one trend that does stand out is the Blues’ steady increase in their goals for rate as a result of their above average shooting percentage during the past . Over all, their 20 game trend (they have played 19 games to date in the playoffs) remains at just above league average, but it is this rising shooting percentage that got them through the Western Conference Finals (their shooting percentage in game six was 26%).

The Boston Bruins are not so dissimilar to the Blues in terms of shot attempts. League average rate of shot attempts with a below average rate of attempts against. But compared to the Blues, their goals for rates have remained relatively consistent just above league average while their goals against rates have been trending downward due to a steadily rising save percentage thanks to Tuukka Rask.

In other words, the Blues have a consistent league average goaltending with a rising (probably unsustainable) shooting percentage. The Bruins have consistent goal scoring with a rising (probably unsustainable) save percentage.

The next three charts might provide a bit more clarity, while also reinforcing what will be the dominant theme during the playoffs. These charts using the last 25 games of the regular season as a benchmark to compare against the team’s playoff performance.

In shot attempts, the Blues and Bruins were above equal during the last 25 games. They were both at league average rates for attempts for, with the Bruins having a slightly lower attempts against rate than the Blues. When the playoffs started, this Blues dropped their attempts for rate, while increasing their against rate (they are still over 50% attempts for in the playoffs) while the Bruins maintained their for rate and increased their against rate more than the Blues.

In terms of goals, the Bruins’ against rate dropped, as did their for rate, while the Blues’ against rate dropped slightly and their goals for rate jumped.

The final chart tells the overall story however. Blues with playoff average goaltending and above playoff average shooting percentage while the Bruins have playoff average shooting percentage and above average goaltending.

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object ? Blues win the Stanley Cup in 7 games.