Photo: justpictures.ch


Lugano changed a lot last summer, both on and off the ice. Therefore, an adjustment phase made of ups and downs forseeable. Perhaps it was entitled to expect some less “down”, but overall we think it’s safe to say that the bianconeri are having a good season.

Also because let’s face it, when Lugano have their “ups” they are really a nice and effective team to watch. Now, however, it’s important to find a way to handle the “downs” in a more productive way, earning points also when the players have a bad night.

So, let’s see what is already working and instead what, in our opinion, didn’t work.

WHAT WORKS

The performances

As we just said, when Lugano have their “ups” and play well… they play very well! Sami Kapanen’s guys are able to play a very modern, catchy and effective hockey. Honestly, there have been few games during which the Bianconeri drove their opponents nuts and literally outplayed them. A nice show, it’s as simple as that.

The defensive play

Regardless of the results and the number of goals conceded, Lugano have a rock solid system of play. The Bianconeri protect their goalie very well and make their opponents’ life difficult when the latter are in the offensive zone. The number of block shots, moreover and always thanks to the system of play, is the highest one of the league. We see the fruits of their hard defensive work also during PK situations, as Lugano are the best penalty killers of the National League. We mean, when it comes to defensive play, the work done by Sami Kapanen and his staff – Stefan Nyman in this case – is excellent.

The goalies

On the eve of this season, it was thought that Lugano would have had problems with the goalies. After all, Elvis Merzlikins’ departure was a difficult one to digest. And instead, Sandro Zurkirchen (and also Stefan Müller when he played) is delivering excellent performances. It’s true that the team protects its goalies very well, but the goalies have been nevertheless able to make many key saves at the key moments of the games, and this fact is a confidence booster for the players.

The early stages of the games

Lately things have been getting worse, but as a trend Lugano get off to great start of the games! If we take the first 10 minutes of play of the games into consideration, the Bianconeri have been scoring 10 goals and have been conceding only 2 goals so far. No one did better in the National League. This means, among other things, that Sami Kapanen’s troops are ready right from the start and want to do well.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

Ability to make the difference

As we said already, when Lugano are good… they’re very good! The Bianconeri’s problem, however, is that when they have a bad night they darn struggle to earn points. We mean, the capability of “stealing” games is lacking, and the latter is a characteristics of the “big teams”. The hope is that things will change in this regard. In fact, it’s crucial to be able to win games thanks to an individual play when you have a bad night.

Scoring record

Lugano are rock solid but at times struggle to create clear scoring chances and to put the puck in the net. If we exclude the two games played against Rapperswil (6-3 win) and Bern (5-2 win), the Bianconeri have been able to score 4 goals in a game only two times. And, always if we exclude the 11 goals scored in two games against Lakers and Bears, Sami Kapanen’s guys score only 2.1 goals on average per game. Only Fribourg Gottéron (2.06) score less than Lugano.

The central periods

Oftentimes, Lugano are impressive during the first periods of play. Meanwhile, however, their performances after the first break are dreadful… the Bianconeri scored only 1 goal during the first 10 minutes of play of the second thirds. And overall, between the 20th and the 40th minute of play, they scored only 10 goals and conceded as many as 23. Perhaps Sami Kapanen’s troops pay the price after the first break because of their efforts made during the first third. Perhaps it’s a matter of lack of focus. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence. The point is, that Lugano should find a way to be more consistent over-the-arc of the 60 minutes.

Import players

There is no denying that Lugano’s import players can score more. It’s true that, if we exclude Linus Klasen, the import players of their roster are mainly defensive minded. But it’s also true that if you want to suceed in Switzerland you also need productive import players when it comes to scoring points. Now the club signed Paul Postma, an offensive defenseman. The bianconeri’s hopes is that something will change.

THE THREE STARS

Luca Fazzini

We are witnessing the evolution of Luca Fazzini. We think it’s safe to say that we’re admiring a version 2.0 of Luca Fazzini during this 2019-20 season. The Ticinese forward – potentially the best sniper of the league – improved a lot and now he’s also a player capable of playing tough, of winning battles and of contributing in the defensive play. All this, didn’t make him lose his magic touch in the offensive zone. We mean, Luca Fazzini is a very precious player and the club rightly extended his contract already.

Sandro Zurkirchen

Many people thought that Sandro Zurkirchen was not up to the task of replacing Elvis Merzlikins. And during the pre-season, the performances delivered by the former Lausanne goalie had seemed to side with those may people’s doubts. And instead, Sandro improved game after game and by now he’s to be considered one of the strengths of Lugano. It was very difficult to replace the hero Elvis, but Zurkirchen proved to have the qualities and the mental strength to do it!

Alessio Bertaggia

As usual, Alessio Bertaggia is pure energy. He puts his heart and soul into each single shift and we assume that he is also a crucial player in the locker room also because he’s a bianconero inside. This season, moreover, he’s also been able to score goals consistently so far. The data speaks for itself, Alessio has been scoring 6 goals in 18 games so far, 1 goal every 3 games on average. This is his average best in his National League career!

THE SPECIAL MENTION

Taylor Chorney

Taylor Chorney is probably the most criticized player around. At times, however, with all due respect we think that the criticism is way too much. Perhaps Taylor Chorney is not the player who can gift the fans with moments of magic hockey, and his production in terms of points is very low. Without forgetting that, at times, he makes some unforced error. Yet, he’s a great skater capable of playing in a very disciplined way and capable of performing consistenly over-the-arc of the 60 minutes of play. Lately his performances haven’t been as brillant as during the earliest stages of the season, but overall we think that he’s doing a great job.

STATISTICS


Statistiche prese da: nlicedata.com / leading-sport.com


Goals For & Goals Against

Considering that teams have a different number of games played, we took into consideration the average of goals scored and goals conceded.

Lugano do not score enough goals and in this regard is among the worse teams of the league. Only Rapperswil, Ambrì-Piotta and Fribourg Gottéron score less than the Bianconeri. Moreover, they concede also too many goals, even though as we said we think that the defensive play is a strength of this team and therefore this data is destined to improve.

Goals For & Goals Against each 10’

We already talked about Lugano’s impressive first periods of play and their dreadful central periods of play. This chart, well represents what we explained before. Sami Kapanen’s troops must improve their consistency over the arc of the 60 minutes.

Shots & Shots Against

Considering that teams have a different number of games played, we took into consideration the average of shots and shots faced.

Lugano could shot more but meanwhile don’t have to face too many shots on average per game. The fact that the Bianconeri don’t have to face too many shots proves that they’re not generally dominated. There is, however, another data that shows how solid this team really is…

Let’s see how dangerous the shots are.

Shots & Shots Against from the Slot – Percentage

This data in fact, suggest that Lugano are rock solid and protect their goalie very well. Only the 38.7% of the shots of their opponents in fact, are taken from the slot (the most dangerous area). Meanwhile, there is no denying that the Bianconeri struggle to take shots from the slot.

Scoring & Saving %

Lugano’s scoring percentage is decent but not excellent. After all, the Bianconeri lack of few talented guys who can put the puck in the net regularly.

The saving percentage instead is good even though is not the highest in the league. Yet, we talked already about the goalies.

PP % – PK %

As we said already, Lugano are excellent penalty killers. In fact, they’re the best penalty killers of the National League!

Also their power-play is decent and much better compared to last season. In this regard, however, there is room for improvement.

LEADING SCORERS

Let’s see, who are the three best scorers to date.

Currently, Linus Klasen is the Top Scorer of Lugano with 15 points in 16 games, That’s a great points on average per game for this player who literally divides opiinion. In fact, there are those saying that this player is magical and essential. There are those people, instead, who think that it would be easy to replace him with a more decisive import player.

Luca Fazzini is second placed and we talked already about him. Instead, it’s a pleasure to see Dario Bürgler third placed… Dario is not at the top of his game yet, but after that he had a poor last season, he’s improving a lot both in terms of scoring points and in terms of level of performances.

OUR PREDICTION

4th – 9th place

We think that the physical condition of the team will be the key for Lugano to have a very good season. Sami Kapanen’s system of play is catchy, but there is no denying that a good physical condition is crucial to ensure that the system of play is also effective.

Frankly speaking, in our opinion, Lugano have all i takes to make the playoffs and even to go a long way. Also frankly speaking, however, considering how balanced the National League is… the Bianconeri can’t ward off the risk of missing the post-season.

On paper, and for what we’ve seen so far, the Bianconeri can have a fantastic season. As we said, however, the physical condition must be at the top and the players must find a way to score more goals.

Good luck, Lugano!

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