Bienne had an OK season. When it comes to the final table position it’s been the most “negative” season since 2016-17. Instead, when it comes to the overall impression, we think that the Seeländer proved to be more and more a big team.
Antti Törmänen’s troops got off to a very good start and earned 1.77 points on average in the first half of the season. After that, they had their biggest crisis of results of the last 10 years when they lost 8 consecutive games between December 2019 and January 2020… in that period Bienne didn’t always underperform but everything was going south, it’s as simple as that. In short, the Seeländer had earned even some “undeserved” win during the first half of the season but then during the crisis they even suffered several as much “undeserved” defeats.
Anyway, it seemed like an endless crisis. Then, however, the Seeländer got back on track with patience and improved a lot during the last part of the season, proving to be a real tight-knit Group – with a capital G – managed by a club that proved capable of working very well also during a delicate situation for the first time.
So, why do we say that Bienne proved to be more and more a big team? Exactly because Bienne was able to get out of the crisis and most and above all because was able several times to win games that seemed difficult to win. We’re pretty sure that until three seasons ago the Seeländer would have struggled a lot in a season like this. Moreover, during the last few weeks before the playoffs, Antti Törmänen’s troops were able to make clear that they were ready for the post-season… therefore, it’s a pity that there was no post-season because of the coronavirus emergency. In fact, we’re convinced that the Seeländer had all it takes to go a very, but very, long way.
Let’s face it, Bienne wasn’t perfect this season. That perhaps also because the team had to play in several competitions – including the brilliant first participation in the CHL – for the first time in history. Yet, we’re sure that also this season taught the whole club a lot. A club that next season will be even stronger!
WHAT DID WORK
Power-play and Penalty-killing
Bienne finished the season with the best power-play efficiency of the league and with the fifth best penalty-killing efficiency. These are interesting facts. The Seeländer made the difference very often during PP opportunities and this allowed them to win several games also when the performance wasn’t top notch.
The Tissot Arena was basically a fortress. Bienne had the second-best home record of the league. The figures are impressive, the Seeländer earned 51 points in 25 home games and, most and above all, they earned at least 1 point in 22 points out of 25. Antti Törmänen’s troops were excellent in front of their fans.
One thing is sure, Bienne almost never had problems when it came to scoring goals. The Seeländer finished the season with the 3rd scoring record of the National League, and with a very high scoring percentage. This is also one of the reasons why they won games even when they weren’t at the top of their game.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The home record was excellent, but you can’t say the same thing about the away record. Bienne finished the season with the 8th away record of the National League. The Seeländer won only 9 games on the road and they never won more than two consecutive road games.
Physical play and dominance
Bienne was less dominant compared to last season in terms of play. There is a constant though: the Seeländer confirmed that aren’t a team that can play a very tough physical game. Mind you, we’re not saying that they should be too aggressive. However, at times, some physical play can help. Without forgetting that during the playoffs physical play is crucial. In this regard, there is room for improvement.
Bienne finished the season with the 3rd worst defensive record of the league, only Rapperswil and Langnau conceded more goals. There is no denying that the Seeländer conceded too much and there is also no denying that they weren’t rock solid way too many times. This was a problem, also because Bienne wasn’t effective at face-offs and that forced the team too often to defend or at least to fight hard only to recover the puck possession.
THE THREE STARS
Marc-Antoine Pouliot is a very important player for Bienne, nothing new. However, when he is missing you realize even more how important he really is… Marc-Antoine brings in points and, most and above all, charisma and energy. His absence between late December and January has made itself felt in the Seeland.
We discovered a “different” Yannick Rathgeb. It’s true that Yannick still has some problems when it comes to defensive play and that he still takes several risks that are not suitable for the faint of heart… he improved a lot though, and he is still a total dominant offensive defenseman capable of making the difference also during PP opportunities. He had a first great season in Bienne!
Toni “on fire” Rajala wasn’t always on fire this season but nevertheless scored 23 goals in 50 games… So much for a guy that wasn’t always at the top of his game. Toni remains a crucial player for the Seeländer and he will be a crucial player also in the future.
We think David Ullström was an underrated player. It’s true that at times you don’t see him much, but he is basically always capable of doing the right thing at the right time. He tallied 30 points in 28 games and left his mark also at the key moments. Again, people didn’t talk enough about him.
What an ugly way to hang up the skates. Let’s face it, Jonas Hiller didn’t have the best season of his career in terms of consistency… but when he was at the top of his game, he proved for the umpteenth time that he’s the right goalie for a team that wants to win the title. Perhaps this would have been THE year. Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
Goals For – Goals Against
Goals For – Goals Against even strength
We talked already about the fact that Bienne didn’t have problem to score goals but that struggled in the defensive play. These figures confirm that. To note that the team could do better also at even strength.
Goals For – Goals Against each 10’
Tendentially Bienne scored a lot during the early stages of the games but conceded too much during the final stages. It’s interesting the fact that the Seeländer were effective during the second part of the central periods, which are usually a key moment.
Leading, tied, trailing
Let’s start with the most important fact: Bienne was the team that was trailing the less in the National League. That’s very interesting. Meanwhile, however, the Seeländer weren’t leading enough… games were tied way too often, and this prevented the team from controlling the games. And this is tiring on the long term.
Scoring percentage – Saving percentage
Bienne had an excellent scoring percentage, in fact only Davos had a higher scoring percentage in the National League. The saving percentage on the other hand was the third worst of the league even though higher than 90%.
Power-play – Penalty-killing
We talked already about PP and PK. Bienne had the best power-play efficiency of the league and was the fifth best penalty killer.
THE SEASON IN ONE QUOTE
OK but not great. Yet, progress has been made!
Bienne had an ok season, not a great one. Yet, in our opinion progress has been made! It’s true that the Seeländer were less dominant compared to last season. But they were nevertheless able to win a lot of complicated games and were able to overcome a huge crisis of results. These are experiences that helped the club grow. Moreover, we’re pretty sure that they could have gone a long way in the playoffs. The group seemed very united and attached to the jersey, what was showed in the gesture of giving up bonuses in the playoffs. We mean, it’s a pity that we’ll never know what Bienne could achieve this season… a season that was probably less brilliant compared to the last two during the regular season but a season that could gift the fans with a great finale.