Photo by Paul Andris – Ultiphotos.com
There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and the ability of Boston’s O-line to score goals. With three full seasons in the books and more goals scored than any other team, it would be an understatement to call the Whitecaps offensive unit the best in league history. Boston has the highest team offensive scoring efficiency rating (OSE) in league history with 73.74%. Couple that with the league’s highest defensive scoring efficiency (DSE) of 32.65%, and it’s a mystery how they’ve managed to lose 8 games over the three years.
Their 32.65% DSE, while impressive, only outpaces the league average by around 3.6% and since I only have around 500 words to work with here, we can get into Boston’s defense another time.
Now let’s get back to that 73.74%. If you’re saying to yourself “Wow, that seems like an extremely high number!” – It’s because you aren’t an idiot.
Boston owns its fair share of league records but this one is by far the most impressive. If we remove Boston and their offensive points, league totals shake out to 4340 points played with 2634 total goals. Presuming you don’t have a calculator handy, that’s an all-time league OSE rating of 60.69%. That’s a touch over 13% lower than Boston’s all time OSE.
So what players are making this offense tick? The short answer is all of them, but that makes for a boring read and I like numbers. Only three players, Jeff Graham, Josh Markette, and Brian Zid have played on the Boston O-line for all three seasons. I’m excluding players that played primarily on the D-line for even just 1 season like Jake Taylor, Miles Montogomery-Butler, and Teddy Browar-Jarus.
Graham, Markette, and Zid’s individual career OSE’s are 73.13%, 75.60%, and 76.82%, respectively. You can read here on how Zid’s playing time has gone down steadily each year, yet he has maintained a high efficiency rating. This makes Zid the prototypical role player, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Zid taking a back seat has allowed for the emergence of young stars such as Tyler Chan, Piers MacNaughton, and Sam Kittross-Schnell. Even with his reduced amount of playing time Zid’s impact on two championship teams can’t be overlooked.
So that leaves Graham and Markette as the two constants in a revolving door of different starting lines over the years. While it may be news to some of you, in MLU play teams rarely use an exclusive starting seven. Sure, a core of 3 or 4 players will be used together almost exclusively, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a head coach trotting out the same seven players for all of their team’s offensive points. Don’t believe me? What if I told you that for the 30 regular season games the Whitecaps have played, they’ve used 27 different starting lineups. Those 27 “starting lineups” only went on to play a combined 209 offensive points. Just 37.6% of the total number of offensive points played by the Whitecaps over their history.
While a true starting seven has never been a part of the Whitecaps strategy, Markette and Graham have been such an integral part of this offensive system that you could count on both hands the total amount of points this team has played without either of them on the field. Twice in 2013, six times in 2014, and two more times in 2015 did Boston field offensive lines with neither Graham or Markette. Since 546 of the Whitecaps 556 total offensive points played (98.2%) have featured at least one of the two, it’s impossible to run any scenario which doesn’t include at least one of them. Check the graph: Graham has won two championship game MVP trophies, a league MVP, an Offensive Player of the Year, and is in the top ten in virtually every statistical category in MLU history. But there is a chance that he’s not what makes Boston’s offense tick. That honor might have to go to Markette, the 2015 Eastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year. It’s nothing but trouble for the rest of the league that they play for the same team.