(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis and Linktree

Bruins fans haven’t had much to complain about over the first 14 games of the 2023-24 season. The team is 11-1-2, sits atop the Atlantic Division, and has the fewest regulation losses in the NHL. Despite their impressive start, fans and media alike have pointed to Hampus Lindholm’s lack of offensive production as a troubling harbinger. I’m here to tell you that despite his offensive numbers being down, Lindholm is NOT a problem.

In his first full season in Boston, fans witnessed the Swedish defenseman post career highs in assists (43), points (53), and plus/minus (a league-leading +49). There’s no way to deny he hasn’t lived up to that standard through the first 14 games this season (two assists and a minus-one), but that doesn’t mean he’s completely lost his way. The fact of the matter is when you look at the entire picture, Lindholm has still been one of Boston’s best defenders this season.

According to NaturalStatTrick, The 2022-23 NHL second-team all-star leads the team in ice time with 254:51 minutes played (30 more than the next closest Bruin). He sits second on the team in defensive zone faceoffs, and zone shift starts behind only Brandon Carlo. Among defensive pairs that have played at least 150 minutes together, the duo ranks 10th and 11th in defensive zone faceoffs and defensive zone starts. They’ve been quite a practical pair, too, ranking third in high-danger chances against (23) and first in goals against (3). Considering his situational usage, it becomes clear that head coach Jim Montgomery has employed Lindholm in a pure shutdown, defense-first role to start this season.

Usage is a significant factor in Lindholm’s production this season, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. His underlying numbers and analytics are some of the team’s best. He ranks second on the Bruins in Corsi For Percentage (team puck possession differential) at 52.94 percent. He’s also second in Fenwick For Percentage (shot attempt differential) at 52.34 percent.

We all know possession and shots don’t always directly correlate to chances and goals. But even when you look at those stats, Lindholm ranks near the top. He is first on the team in expected goals for (12.56), fourth in expected goals for percentage (55.39), and first on the team in scoring chances for (127). All this indicates that Lindholm is actively involved in the offense and helping to create chances all over the ice.

If you don’t buy into those analytics, I have another stat that irrefutably proves my point: high-danger chances. Despite spending most of his time in the defensive zone, he ranks first on the team in high-danger chances for (55) and scoring chances for (127). These stats make it unequivocally clear that when Hampus Lindholm is on the ice, the Boston Bruins control play, establish offense, and generate scoring chances.

Of course, the team needs Lindholm to improve his output on the scoresheet if they want to be a serious contender down the stretch, but that doesn’t mean he has underperformed this season. Lindholm is still an elite defender, and with some improved puck-luck on offense, he should be back to his point-producing self. He’s been a rock during Charlie Mcavoy’s four-game suspension, and he deserves credit for how much work he does to keep this team in contention night in and night out.