The Stanley Cup in the Pandemic

stanley cup in pandemic 2020

More than ever, the key to winning the Stanley Cup in pandemic requires a closer look at the statistical data

By Daniel C.  Bryndle

The pandemic is real. It has changed the way we live our lives, and professional hockey players are no different than the rest of us. They can become infected with the coronavirus at any time, even with every precaution taken. It would just take an unfortunate break in the safety measures to make the return to hockey a fiasco.

With that in mind, NHL teams will be relying more than ever on their player development managers. It is their job to coordinate the team’s video and analytics managers, to put together one synchronized winning strategy that the entire team can utillize. After having had an extensive conversation with one of the league’s best and most well-known franchise’s player development managers, what follows is the application that was discussed.  

There are key elements involved in winning every single game. The Stanley Cup is won one game at a time. The simple fact that is always true in every game is that to win means putting the puck in the net more times than your opponent. This is achieved by studying the ways to beat the other team’s goalie.

We all have heard that great goalies win Stanley Cups. Every Cup-winning team had a goalie that was just a monster between the pipes. They were so skilled at stopping teams from scoring that they almost stood on their heads to block shots.

Today’s skilled player development departments rely on advanced analytics and video review. As a result, a matrix has been developed that uncovers, challenges, and removes any goaltender’s magic. Such strategizing has been put to the test in Stanley Cup playoffs in the past. Just look at last year’s dream team, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Last season, the Lightning was the highest-scoring team in the NHL, capturing the President’s Trophy. Despite all that, they were quickly eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in four consecutive games. It simply came down to scoring more goals against one goalie. The team and goalie collapsed in shocking fashion, falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  

The point is that the player development department, in conjunction with the analytics and video department, did an outstanding job. The Blue Jackets captured the key data on the Lightning goalie: (i) They stacked the analytics that offered the critical scoring data; (ii) they captured the events on video for the players’ review; (iv) they gained the momentum and held onto it for the entire game; (v) finally, they played a planned “safe” game that maximized their power plays and penalty shots.

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It all really sounds simple. The team that utilizes this system—especially during the Stanley Cup in the pandemic year—can win it all. The beauty of this approach is that every player, on every shift, knows where to be on the ice and how to score. Let the games begin.

Daniel C. Bryndle, developer of the Win Now Matrix, has worked extensively with the NHL and AHL. He is the author of “A Fly on the Wall in the NHL” and “The Win Now Matrix.” For more information visit is reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.


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