EV Zug vs HC Davos: Expect a fast, intense and tight series
- Published: 20 March 2017 - 2:00 pm
After dominant quarter-final performances against the teams from the Lac Léman, Zug and Davos square off against each other in the semi-finals. One expects this series to be much tighter, at least if we consider the statistics from the regular season.By Yannick Ringger (Photo: PHOTOPRESS / Juergen Staiger)
It will be the seventh time that these two teams meet in the play-offs. Both have won three series, although Zug’s last triumph against the Grisons dates from 1998 when they won the final to crown themselves champions for the first – and still only – time in club history. The last time they faced each other was in the quarter-finals 2015, when Davos advanced after winning the only home-game of the series in game six en route to their last championship win.
As well as their playoff-encounters, the six matchups in this year’s regular season have also been split in three wins for each, whereof Davos has won the last two matches. Not only the results, but also the statistics show that those games have been very tight. Four of them have been one-goal games and five of the game-winning-goals were scored in the third period or in overtime.
Stats don’t tell the whole story
Two interesting trends can be observed in these six games. The first is shot metrics. Over the six games, Davos outshot Zug with an overall Corsi-rate of 56.3 percent but only dominated two games while the other four games were more even shots-wise (three times slightly in favor of Zug). Interestingly, only in two games the team which outshot its opponent won the game.
The second eye-catching statistic concerns penalties. In each game, the team which took fewer penalty minutes came out on top. Though this sounds logical, it is not the whole truth: For only in three matches, was it the team that had more power-play opportunities (it might have taken more 10-min-penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct or some game-misconduct-penalties on top, which don’t lead to a PP for the opponent). Even more surprising is the fact, that only in one game the team that scored more power-play-goals won.
Will stars break out?
This last statistic might very well change in the upcoming series. As we have seen in Zug’s series against Genève-Servette, an efficient power-play can be decisive in the playoffs. While one cannot count on a continuation of two power-play goals per game for the Bulls, the new-found efficiency with the man-advantage might very well be an advantage for Kreis’ team, as Davos’ power-play has not been very prolific. On the contrary, they have only scored three PP goals, but already conceded two shorthanders. A reason for optimism for del Curto’s team lies in their penalty-killing, the strongest in the postseason so far with a success rate of 90.91 % (Zug’s ranks second with 88.89 %), which has also produced two shorthanders already.
An explanation for the somewhat harmless power-play of Davos can be found in the performances of their import players, who have been largely unproductive. Especially Ruutu and Lindgren, who have only one goal between them, need to influence the games a bit more. While Zug’s duo of Immonen and Klingberg still waits on its first playoff-goal, they have helped with seven assists. Another big-name player, who should soon start to produce, is Zug’s Topsccorer Martschini, who will benefit from a speedy return from injury of his center Holden.
Decisive factors: Discipline, speed, goaltenders
For the outcome of the series, mainly three additional factors should be decisive. One is discipline. Zug showed poise against Genève-Servette and didn’t let the opponent get under their skin. Will that still hold true if they face more adversity against a stronger opponent that is very well able to counter their skill set? The second factor is speed. Two seasons ago, Davos at times overwhelmed Zug with their physical, intense and fast north-south-game. Zug has since added physicality through the whole lineup and strength down the middle. Is that enough to counter Davos over a presumably long and tight series? And the third point, inevitably, concerns the goaltenders. While both Tobias Stephan and Gilles Senn have been outstanding in the first round, their lack of pedigree in the playoffs remains a doubt as long as they have not proven otherwise.