EV ZUG – Analysis of the 2018-19 season


And once again, like way too many times during the last 21 seasons, Zug went so close – and yet so far… – from winning the title.

But let there no be misunderstanding, it’s important to stress that it was a fantastic season. Only the icing on the cake was missing… The Bulls, however, were able to put on the cake at least the candle. That is, the candle, the Swiss Cup win. It may be little thing, you can say. In our opinion instead, the win of the Swiss Cup is already a significant step forward in building a winning mindset that will serve in the future to become Swiss Champions.

Zug in fact, when it comes to winning the title, are this close to putting to an end this wait that has lasted since 1998. The club is working very well, both on and off the ice. Let us not foget, morever, that the EVZ Academy’s project is already bearing fruit and will bear even more.

The structure of the club is professional. The team is strong and nevertheless was already reinforced in view of next season. The technical staff – as a whole – looks ready to lead Zug to success.

Then again, once again, the season finished with a golf ball – or a puck… – stuck in the throat. It finished with a defeat suffered against Bern, just like two seasons ago. But in our opinion, the Bulls must be darn proud of what they achieved this season!


THE REGULAR SEASON

Zug started their season with three consecutive wins which were followed by three consecutive losses. Then, they had some ups and downs… but as the season went on, the Bulls became very consistent and not for nothing, starting from winter, they were constantly at the first two positions of the table. Dan Tangnes’ troops Regular Season was a great one. In fact, they were the only ones capable of standing up to Bern.

THE PLAYOFFS

EV Zug – HC Lugano 4-0

EV Zug – Lausanne HC 4-1

SC Bern – EV Zug 4-1

During playoffs, Zug literally outplayed Lugano and Lausanne. Both against the Bianconeri and the Lions Vaudois, the Bulls were fantastic and played a terrific hockey. Then, however, everything changed in the final… Dan Tangnes’ guys won Game-1 but then, even though they sold their lives dearly, they weren’t able to stop Bern. The final result? A brillant – as much as bittersweet – silver medal.


THE ANALYSIS

Let’s see few things that in our opinion worked well and few things that didn’t work at all.

WHAT WORKED

Performances

When it comes to performances, in our opinion Zug played the best hockey of the National League this season! Dan Tangnes and his staff were phenomenal… the Bulls were mostly rock solid in defense and highly organized – other than unpredictable – in the offensive zone. Moreover, also defensemen were free to be proactive in the offensive zone. Not for nothing, Zug finished the Regular Season with the second best offensive record and the second best defensive record of the league. It’s safe to say that we’ve had some real fun watching games of the Bulls throughout the whole season. They gifted us with a very modern and entertaining hockey.

Power-play

Both during the Regular Season and the playoffs, Zug’s power-play was a great weapon. The Bulls were almost always able to enter the offensive zone easily… and then were almost always able to move the puck around swimmingly… and last but not least, they were able to put the puck in the net frequently. Let us not forget, moreover, that Dan Tangnes’ troops were excellent penalty killers too.

Swiss Cup

Maybe many of you think that the Swiss Cup is a meaningless competition… in our opinion instead, the win of the Swiss Cup can serve Zug as a first very important step to come back in the future – sooner or later – to win the title. The Swiss Cup puts an official trophy at stake and winning always help you to build a winning mindset. Whoever looks down on this competition, in our opinion, makes a huge mistake. Congrats for the win, Bulls!

Away performances

Zug lost their last 3 games of the Regular Season away from home… previously though, they had won 14 of the 22 away games. To cut a long story short, the Bulls finished the Regular Season with the best away record of the National League together with Bern. Moreover, they had the third best offensive away record and the second best defensive away record. All this is synonym with personality and self-confidence.

EVZ Academy

Sven Leuenberger, Yannick Zehnder, Sandro Aeschlimann… and Luca Hollenstein for the future. Ring a bell? We already had the pleasure to admire three of these players in the NLA. The last one we’ve named, we’ll have the pleasure to admire very soon. And many more will come. The EVZ Academy project is a real jem. It’s the “top class” player of Zug, the extra man. For the present and for the future!

WHAT DIDN’T WORK

Let’s try to find something that didn’t work also when it comes to the second best team of the year…

The final

Zug’s season was extraordinary until the overtime of Game-2 of the final against Bern… that’s because, after the third break of Game-2, it looked like something went wrong. It’s possible that the Bulls – who are less experienced than the Bears – paid a high price the lack of a real winning mindset compared to Bern. Then again, you can’t buy the winning mindset at the market… therefore, in this regard, Zug had a very valuable experience this season that will serve in the future.

Face-offs

Face-offs are potentially a pivotal play in ice hockey, especially at the key moments of the games. Well, in this regard and during the Regular Season, the Bulls were the third worst team of the league… only Davos and Bienne were less efficient at face-offs. Among the players of the Bulls who took face-offs more often, only Garrett Roe (51.3%) had a positive percentage. Things then improved dramatically during playoffs… when Zug were among the best teams. But during the Regular Season, face-offs were a problem.

Discipline

As we already said, Zug proved excellent penalty killers. The thing is, however, that the Bulls were shorthanded way too many times… during the Regular Season, only Lugano were assessed more minor penalties (2 minutes) than Zug. Moreover, also the 10’ penalties were way too many, 18 in 50 games… no team in the National League did worse than the Bulls in this regard.


THE 3 STARS OF THE SEASON

Dan Tangnes (Coach)

Frankly speaking, Dan Tangnes was some sort of “unknown” on the eve of the season… and instead, he turned out to be the right man in the right place soon enough! The Norwegian coach made his Bulls play an attractive, entertaining and winning hockey. Moreover… he brought back a title in Zug – the Swiss Cup – after over 20 years. Last but not least, he gave space to several young players and trusted them. We mean, he’s really the right coach for the Swiss Centrals!

Raphael Diaz

Raphael Diaz played his third season in Zug after he had come back from North America… and he played a key role. The Captain was brought to Zug in order to help the team win the title and the Bulls went so close this season. Rapahel was rock solid in defense and even very proactive in the offensive zone. Let us not forget, moreover, that he’s a power-play master!

Lino Martschini

Lino Martschini had yet another fantastic Regular Season… nothing new. There is something new though… that is, Lino played some fantastic playoffs too when compared to the past! The Bulls’ forward was able to drive the opponents defensemen nuts as usual thanks to his speed, his technical skills and his skating skills. Moreover, as usual, he tallied countless points.

THE SENSATION

Sven Leuenberger & Yannick Zehnder

Yannick Zehnder and Sven Leuenberger are two top class players, and let us not forget Sandro Aeschlimann who proved to have what it takes to play at the NLA level. Yannick put an out of the ordinary personality on display for a guy his age, especially during the Regular Season. Sven on the other hand, played a key role for the team during playoffs, especially at the quarterfinals and semifinals stages. We mean, Leuenberger and Zehnder are the perfect image of why the EVZ Academy is a winning project. And they’re the perfect image of why Zug aren’t a one-hit wonder but they’re destined to have success on the long term!

THE SPECIAL MENTION

Santeri Alatalo

Santeri Alatalo played his 7th consecutive season in Zug… by far the best one! Both in terms of production – he broke his personal record of points – and in terms of performances. The 28 years old Finnish defenseman (who plays with Swiss licence) has all it takes to become even more a pillar of the Bulls defense. The club counts on him a lot and not for nothing Santeri has a contract valid until the end of the 2020-21 season.


THE SEASON IN NUMBERS – THE STATS

GOALS FOR & GOALS AGAINST

As we already said, Zug finished the Regular Season with the second best offensive record and the second best defensive record. And also during playoffs, the ratio “Goals For – Goals Against” was great. Moreover it’s interesting to have a look at the charts of the goals distribution… The trend shows that the Bulls scored more as the games went on. Both during the Regular Season and the playoffs. This is symptom with – among other things – an excellent physical condition.

SHOTS & SHOTS AGAINST

Zug shot overall more than their opponents during the Regular Season and shot much more compared to their opponents during playoffs. If we have a look at the charts of the shots’ distribution per period of play, we can note how during the Regular Season Zug faced more shots as the games went on… during playoffs instead, only during the central period Zug faced more shots.

SCORING & SAVING PERCENTAGE

Zug had an excellent scoring percentage both during the Regular Season and the playoffs. To note, however, that the Bulls’ scoring percentage during the final was only 6.08%… Same goes when it comes to the saving percentage. It was excellent both during the Regular Season and the playoffs.. but during the final, it dropped below the 90.0%.

POWER-PLAY & PENALTY-KILLING

As we outlined before, the power-play was one of Zug’s strengths. This data confirms it in every possible way. Moreover, the Bulls were also excellent penalty killers. The whole, both during the Regular Season and the playoffs. Even though in the end, Bern proved more efficient during the final and Dan Tangnes’ troops paid a high price for that.

CORSI INDEX

(via nlicedata.com)

Zug had a good Corsi index during the Regular Season and it even improved during the post season. the Bulls were dominant most of the time… and this data, among other things, confirms it.


OUR CONCLUSION

It’s a pity for Zug… the icing of the cake was missing. But that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that the Bulls had a terrific season!

Dan Tangnes’ guys entertained their fans. They won the Swiss Cup. They made it all the way to the final. And the future promises to be bright… the EVZ Academy works perfectly, moreover the club has already reinforced the team in view of next season. Several top class players in fact, are already on the way. Leonardo Genoni, the best goalie around who was able to win 5 titles in his career. Gregory Hofmann, arguably the most devastating Swiss forward around. And let us not forget about Jérôme Bachofner, another young guy ready to do great things!

Then again, all this is no guarantee of success. Suffice it to have a look at what happened to the ZSC Lions this season.

But the truth is that in Zug they’re doing a terrific job and now the fans – just like the whole club – are salivating. Right now, however, it’s time to rest. Then, it will be time to think about the future. A future that, under these circumstances, looks successful.

Enjoy your very well deserved holidays, Bulls. And congrats for the season!  

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