Anyone who has watched the Penguins over the last few months should be able to tell you that the 3rd and 4th lines are a problem. The problem can be masked by the high powered scoring of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, an explosive power play, good goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, amongst other things.
But this is a problem that may not be able to be fixed until the salary cap goes up. As it stands, the Penguins are using a 3rd line consisting of Brandon Sutter, Tanner Glass, and at times Taylor Pyatt (Chuck Kobasew had been in this spot as well, but was placed on waivers Monday afternoon).
I'm not looking for the Penguins third line to be GREAT. I'm just looking for them to be serviceable. If they could play their 10-12 minutes per night and come off the ice without giving up any goals and maintain even possession, I can consider that a win, to a point. The top heavy Crosby and Malkin units should score, so the Penguins don't need the third line to be fantastic. They have been the opposite of good, however.
For a primer on advanced stats, we direct you to our SB Nation counterpart, Broad Street Hockey, for their advanced stats glossary.
Once you understand the basics, it's pretty easy to get a grasp on it.
Example: if Sidney Crosby has a Corsi Relative % of 10%, it means that the Penguins generate 10% more shot attempts on goal per 60 minutes while Crosby is on the ice compared to when he is on the bench.
I'm really not even sure it's a way of measuring Corsi Relative Percentage, but what I decided to do was, take the percentages of the 3rd line players for each team. I then added them together and charted them on a graph, whether positive or negative, to show how they stack up against the other competition of the NHL.
Dead last. By a longshot. Acquiring Ryan Kesler can help fix this. Not this season with the injuries that have piled up, but a Kesler acquisition followed by the addition of healthy Beau Bennett and Pascal Dupuis, and it makes unlimited sense and true depth for the Penguins.
Some things to consider:
A team's percentage may be a little skewed by a player who has only played a few games. I tried to go with the most accurate and current third line combinations at the moment.
The Penguins percentages are skewed a bit by how good Crosby and Malkin are. When anyone but those two are on the ice, the numbers are bound to drop. While putting this all together and discussing with Sean Gentille of The Sporting News, he was quick and accurate to point that out to me, but nonetheless, it's almost comical how bad the Penguins percentage is.
A combined percentage of -25.9% for Sutter, Pyatt, and Glass practically forces Crosby and Malkin to carry the game, especially considering that the Penguins 4th line is nearly as bad.
How to fix this? I'm not sure. Ryan Kesler would help. Bennett and Dupuis returning from injury would. The salary cap going up definitely will. As far as a fix right now, I'm not sure there is one.
Below, the players used for each team are listed:
Anaheim Ducks: Daniel Winnik, Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano
Boston Bruins: Carl Soderberg, Chris Kelly, Loui Eriksson
Buffalo Sabres: Marcus Foligno, Brian Flynn, Zemgus Girgensons
Calgary Flames: T.J. Galiardi, Markus Granlund, Joe Colborne
Carolina Hurricanes: Nathan Gerbe, Riley Nash, Tuomu Ruutu
Chicago Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell, Peter Regin, Andrew Shaw
Colorado Avalanche: Maxime Talbot, John Mitchell, Jamie McGinn
Columbus Blue Jackets: R.J. Umberger, Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson
Dallas Stars: Antoine Roussel, Vernon Fiddler, Ryan Garbutt
Detroit Red Wings: Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Daniel Alfredsson
Edmonton Oilers: Matt Hendricks, Boyd Gordon, Jesse Joensuu
Florida Panthers: Tomas Fleischmann, Drew Shore, Scottie Upshall
Los Angeles Kings: Dwight King, Jarret Stoll, Dustin Brown
Minnesota Wild: Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak, Nino Niederreiter
Montreal Canadiens: Rene Bourque, Lars Eller, Dale Weise
Nashville Predators: Viktor Stalberg, Colin Wilson, Eric Nystrom
New Jersey Devils: Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder, Andrei Loktionov
New York Islanders: Thomas Vanek, Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck
New York Rangers: Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard, J.T. Miller
Ottawa Senators: Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Bobby Ryan
Philadelphia Flyers: Steve Downie, Sean Couturier, Matt Read
Phoenix Coyotes: Lauri Korpikoski, Mike Ribiero, David Moss
Pittsburgh Penguins: Taylor Pyatt, Tanner Glass, Brandon Sutter
San Jose Sharks: Martin Havlat, James Sheppard, Brent Burns
St. Louis Blues: Magnus Paajarvi, Patrick Berglund, Vladimir Tarasenko
Tampa Bay Lightning: J.T. Brown, Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov,
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mason Raymond, Nikolai Kulemin, Troy Bodie
Vancouver Canucks: Darren Archibald, Brad Richardson, Zach Kassian
Washington Capitals: Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward
Winnipeg Jets: Devin Setoguchi, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler