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Does Kevin Bieksa Raise His Game Come Playoff Time?

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A dive into Kevin Bieksa’s regular season and postseason performances.

Anaheim Ducks v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Eric Stephens is reporting that Kevin Bieksa will draw in for Game 2 on Saturday night.

As you could probably imagine this tweet set the Ducks twitterverse on fire. The responses in general were of the opinion that this would be terrible for the team and really hamstring the teams chances to win. As time has gone on though, people have started to put out the claim that Bieksa was good in the playoffs last season and if he can perform like that then this might not be a bad thing.

That got me wondering if he actually was better in the playoffs last season, so the following will not only look at his stats in the regular season and playoffs last season, but for each season he has been in the playoffs to see if the claim that “he elevates his game come playoff time” holds water.

The stats I will be looking at will be CA/60, CF%, GA/60, GF%, SCA/60, SCF%, HDCA/60, and HDCF%. These will give us an idea of his play in his own end through shot and chance suppression and an idea of his overall play with shot, chance, and goal share numbers.

2008-2009 Season

Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season 72 1090 51.15 51.34 2.48 47.67 24.34 49.08 9.86 47.97
Playoffs 10 158 52.07 49.82 1.14 70 22.42 51.24 8.36 47.62

The first season of the Kevin Bieksa playoff experience was a fairly decent one. His shot attempt metrics did dip slightly with him allowing shots against at a slightly higher rate, his scoring chance metrics got slightly better with him preventing chances at a better rate, and his high danger shot metrics remained relatively the same. The biggest jump we see is in goal prevention and GF%, but that is probably due to small sample size and some luck after looking at the other numbers.

2009-2010 Season

Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season 55 854 49.83 54.49 2.6 48.61 26.43 52.59 10.96 53.43
Playoffs 12 210 55.59 52.9 2.85 54.55 27.37 53.17 12.54 45.68

The second season of the Kevin Bieksa Playoff experience was not as solid as the first one. His shot attempt metrics took a dive with him allowing 6 CA/60 more in the playoffs than the regular season, his scoring chance metrics remained relatively the same, and his high danger shot metrics dropped a bit. His GF% does make a jump in the positive direction even though he was on the ice for more goals against/60 in the playoffs than the regular season.

2010-2011 Season

Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season 66 1098 54.22 52.54 1.75 61.9 29.57 48.77 12.79 47.77
Playoffs 25 481 50.85 53.48 1.37 60.71 24.3 53.35 10.84 48.21

This may be the best playoffs from Kevin Bieksa and it makes sense with the Canucks making it all the way to game 7 of the Cup Final. We see here that Bieksa supressed shots, goals, scoring chances, and high danger chances at a better rate in these playoffs than he did over the course of that season.

2011-2012 Season

Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season 78 1346 51.85 54.97 2.45 54.17 27.24 51.39 11.73 47.19
Playoffs 5 81 56.98 61.5 1.48 60 33.3 56.73 12.58 54.05

The 2012 postseason was a weird one for Kevin Bieksa. In this one he saw all of his rates get worse, but his percentages got better, which means the one series he was involved in was high event hockey.

2013 Season

Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season 36 580 56.3 49.58 2.69 52.73 32.4 47.31 13.66 48.24
Playoffs 4 84 51.33 53.25 2.85 50 29.94 42.47 15.68 29.03

The 2013 playoffs saw Bieksa’s shot attempt rates improve along with his CF%, his SCA/60 numbers improve even though his SCF% got worse, and his High Danger Chance rate and percentage get worse.

2014-2015 Season

Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Refular Season 60 975 60.55 48.45 2.89 45.98 32.61 47.11 12.31 50.12
Playoffs 6 96 58.31 49.46 3.13 50 28.84 48.89 10.66 48.48

The last playoffs for Kevin Bieksa as a Canuck saw him improve his shot and chance prevention across the board and only see a decrease in his HDCF%.

2015-2016 Season

Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season 71 1171 56.86 50.82 2.36 43.21 28.07 48.69 11.17 50
Playoffs 6 91 69.89 49.28 1.32 60 26.37 52.38 11.21 43.33

Now lets get to the fun part, Kevin Bieksa’s first playoff as a Duck. It was a relatively short one only lasting 6 games, but we can certainly glean some information from it. These playoffs saw his shot suppression get worse along with his CF%, his chance prevention got slightly better along with his SCF%, and his HDCF% remained relatively the same. His GA/60 and GF% improved significantly, but with the Ducks not winning a round there is not a large enough of a sample size to make any judgements off of the GF%.

2016-2017 Season

Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season or Playoffs GP TOI CA/60 CF% GA/60 GF% SCA/60 SCF% HDCA/60 HDCF%
Regular Season 81 1269 60.26 45.54 2.36 48.45 30.44 44.29 11.44 44.75
Playoffs 8 119 65.79 47.58 1.52 66.67 23.78 50.53 11.13 46.34

So here is the postseason in question. The one that people claimed Kevin Bieksa was actually good in. In these playoffs we saw him allow more shot attempts/60 against but improve his CF% slightly (meaning higher event hockey), prevent more scoring chances against/60 and improve his SCF%, with his HDCF data remained relatively the same.


My biggest takeaways from this little exercise is at one point in time Bieksa was a really good defender as scoring in the playoffs drops significantly (as can be seen by Bieksa’s GA/60 dropping a fair amount in 5 out of the 8 years).

To address the idea that Bieksa is a playoff performer: I do not really see anything in these numbers that signals that to me. There are some years where his numbers improve and others where they don’t. The only year you can say he 100% upped his game was in the 2011 playoffs.

In regards to Bieksa improving and helping the team out significantly in the 2017 playoffs, Bieksa did see some improvement in his scoring chance against rates and SCF% along with an improvement in his CF%. The issue is that he allowed more shot attempts against/60 than he did in the regular season.

My opinion is a lot of people are under the belief he had a good postseason, not due to his strong play, but due to him being on the ice for his fair share of lucky bounces. His GF% increase signifies that to me along with an increase in his on ice sh% (Not included in the charts but went from 8% to 10% in the playoffs) and on ice sv% (Not included in the charts but went from 92.4% to 95.83%).

So Bieksa did ever so slightly improve his game last playoffs, but the perception of him having a good playoffs is more so due to luck than an improvement in his game. He is not a guy that I expect to improve on his poor season this postseason especially when you factor in that he is coming back from an injury.

Having said all of this, Kevin Bieksa will most likely be coming into the lineup for Andy Welinski, and as of right now there is not a huge difference between those two. The moment that Ducks fans can truly panic is if the decision is made to sit Marcus Pettersson over Kevin Bieksa once Fowler is healthy.

*All data is from Naturalstattrick and is at 5 on 5.