We will never cease to say that, in our opinion and for quality/price ratio, the Seeländers have been doing the best job in Switzerland since years. The last two seasons, that both came to an end at the semi-final stages, were exciting ones.
This season, Bienne aren’t at the top of their game yet… but despite this, they’re among the best teams of the National League as it is evidenced by the fact that they’re currently second placed. We mean, in the light of this fact and considering that they have room for improvement, it seems that Antti Törmänen’s troops are about to have another great season!
So, let’s see what is already working and instead what, in our opinion, didn’t work.
What distinguishes the “big teams”? Many things. But on top of that, the ability to win games also when they’re not at the top of their game. Well, considering how things are going this season, there are no more doubts: Bienne are a big team in every way! Antti Törmänen’s guys were able to win a lot of games, several of which also when their performances weren’t top notch. This is certainly a strenght, and not a flaw.
Jonas Hiller announced that he will hang up his skates (or rather his gloves) at the end of this season. He certainly has every intention of retiring in style by doing everything to help the Seeländers go a long way. Anyway, Antti Törmänen likes to rotate his goalies, considering that Eliene Paupe already collected 5 appearances. The result? Both goaltenders are at the top of their game and therefore Bienne are safe regardless of who is between the pipes.
In previous years, during power-play opportunities, oftentimes Bienne were able to enter the offensive zone smoothly and then were able to move the puck around quite well. Yet, they couldn’t score enough goals. This season instead, the Seeländers are much more effective during power-play situations. There is room for improvement, but things look good.
10 home games, 7 wins. But most and above all, the Seeländers earned at least 1 point in 9 of the 10 home games. We mean, there is no denying that the Tissot Arena is like a fortress for Antti Törmänen’s troops. Their home record is excellent!
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Mind you, we can’t say that Bienne are underperforming. However, we think it’s safe to say that, compared to last season, the Seeländers aren’t at the top of their game. Way too often they are unable to outplay their opponents like during most of the times the last two seasons. And way too often, they have moments during which they’re under pressure. Without forgetting that, always compared to the recent past, it looks like they make way too many unforced mistakes.
Bienne could score more, but several players don’t look at the top of their form in front of goal. If we exclude Toni Rajala, there are forwards who struggle to put enough pucks in the net. But that was mostly happening during the first few weeks of the current season. Lately, however, things have been improving. Suffice it to say that the Seeländers had scored 2.27 goals on average during the first 11 games while they scored 3.11 goals on average in the last 9 games.
Bienne struggle to win faceoffs. Nothing new. For the last three seasons the Seeländers have the lowest success rate of the league when they take faceoffs. In our opinion, that is the reason why Bienne signed David Ullström, a guy who is known to be effective when he takes faceoffs. If we take this season’s individual stats, only Marc-Antoine Pouliot has an above 50% success rate at faceoffs. We mean, it’s a problem. And we all know how it is important to be effective at faceoffs, even if only because a good success rate keeps you out of wasting energies – physical and mental – only to recover the puck possession.
THE THREE STARS
Jonas Hiller / Eliene Paupe
We cannot avoid mentioning the two goalies together. We all know Jonas Hiller, he’s pure class and one of the best goalies around. Currently, he’s likely to be the absolute best. Moreover, he’s extra-motivated as he wants to retire as a champion. What about Elien Paupe then? When the latter is lined up, he delivers excellent performances. We mean, the goalies are one of the main Seeländers’ strength!
Toni Rajala is on fire. Nothing new. Strictly speaking, this year he seems less consistent in terms of performances compared to last season. Yet guys, what a player. He’s a real sniper who can score and can mostly score important goals at the key moments of the game. Wow, just wow!
Many people said that Yannick Rathgeb was a great addition. Then again, many people also had doubt about his defensive play. Perhaps mindful of the past and his flaws put on display in Fribourg. Now, let’s face it, we’re not saying that Yannick Rathgeb became the most solid defenseman of the world… however, comparing to his time on the shores of the Sarine, he looks much more disciplined. All this are the improvements, meanwhile he’s still impressive in the offensive zone. We mean, a great addition in every way!
THE SPECIAL MENTION
Peter Schneider always gives the 100% during each single shift and he’s a real shooting machine. We mean, he proved to be worth the National League. The problem is that, when it comes to Peter it’s either all or nothing. Oftentimes in fact, he struggles way too much to put the puck in the night. Provided that he can become more accurate, he can also turn from shooting machine into scoring machine. Forza, Peter!
Stats taken from: 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.
As we mentioned already, Bienne could score more goals. And ltely, things have been improving in this regard. When it comes to defending instead, the Seeländers are rock solid also because they can count on two goalies at the top of their game who can make the difference.
Goals For & Goals Against each 10’
This chart is somehow “worrying”… In fact, Bienne tend to score a lot during the first two periods of play but concede way too many goals during the final third. Is there a problem linked to the physical condition, perhaps also linked to the Champions Hockey League? One thing is sure, the number of goals conceded during the last period of play must decrease.
Shots & Shots Against
Considering that teams have a different number of games played, we took into consideration the average of shots and shots faced.
Bienne shot on goal a lot… but face too many shots. In fact, when it comes to shots faced, the Seeländers are the worst team of the league.
Let’s see now how dangerous their shots are.
Shots & Shots Against from the Slot – Percentage
Bienne can play a very nice hockey, fast and highly organized. This is evidenced also in this table, that shows that the Seeländers take the 46.3% of their shots from the slot, that is from the most dangerous area. It’s a bit worrying instead the fact that Törmänen’s troops concede way too many shots from the slot in their defensive zone. Goalies should be better protected.
Scoring & Saving %
This chart shows very well what we mentioned before. That is, Bienne should take more of their scoring chances but meanwhile they can count on two goalies who are generally at the top of their game.
PP % – PK %
We talked about the power-play already, and how the Seeländers are effective. In fact, their power-play efficiency is the 4th best of the league behind the ZSC Lions, Davos and Genève Servette. Moreover, Törmänen’s guys are quite good also when it comes to kill penalties. Only Ambrì-Piotta, Genève Servette, Lugano and Davos are better penalty killers than Bienne.
Let’s see, who are the three best scorers to date.
Toni “on fire” Rajala is the team’s Top Scorer. Nothing new. In fact, we have almost forgotten by now, that his jersey number is 25, considering that he basically always is the Top Scorer of the team.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot is second placed, also thanks to his performances that are good in most of the cases. Same goes for third placed Anssi Salmela… The Finn defenseman perhaps still lacks a bit concistency, but he’s pure class and also crucial during power-play opportunities.
1st – 4th place
It’s true that anything can happen, Bienne may even miss the playoffs. However, for what we’ve seen so far, and considering that there is also room for improvement, it’s hard to imagine the Seeländers not in the upper of the table at the end of the regular season.
We mean, Bienne haven’t been at the top of their game yet, but they’re already among the best teams. And it is justified to expect that they will improve.
We mean, has the time come to make the next step? Or rather, has the time come to play a first playoffs final in history? Only time will tell. All the more so, because everything can change in the post-season.
One thing is sure though, the Seeländers are continuing to lay the foundations for a bright future. And, sooner or later, their moment of glory with come. Now, the important thing is to keep it up, to work hard and to improve furthermore. Then, as we all know, “time is a gentleman” and will find a way to reward Bienne for all their efforts.
Good luck, Seeländers!