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2013 Pittsburgh Penguins forwards pairings

We dig some advanced data to check which Pens forward pairs worked and which ones didn't in 2013

Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

If you missed part one, click here to see our look at the defensive pairings Corsi for at 5v5 for the Pittsburgh Penguins this year. Now, it's time to look at the forwards.

Now, it's time to look at the forwards. While they play in units of three, two is a building block and how we'll analyze the performance of players in 2013.


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  • Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are pretty good at this hockey thing- both significantly help whoever they are paired with and together, they took an absurdly ridiculous 76.8% of the shot attempts while on the ice together. Both of the stars are green across the board and were according to this measure, easily the best players on the team. And, I must confess, even though the cutoff was 50 minutes, the pair didn’t have that. But I had to include the two-headed monster, just to emphasize how strong they are. Together or apart, these are the top two offensive players probably in the game today, and when they’re on the ice on the same time it’s almost an unfair advantage. Now, there’s no doubt Dan Bylsma’s strategic usage of the pair together (like the shift immediately after the opposition has a power play and they usually skate 4th liners) can help tilt the ice for Pittsburgh but it’s the ability of the players take over and do the actual work. Any way you slice it, good things usually happen for the Pens anytime 87 or 71 are on the ice, but especially so when they’re out at the same time.
  • Not so great numbers for the lower line guy stand out- but look at Brandon Sutter. With his more normal linemates (Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy) he had reasonable numbers there, especially considering how that unit was used as a defensive stopper and often starting shifts in their own zone, against tough competition. Sutter with less linemates wasn’t as pretty. And with the Pens losing both Cooke and Kennedy, and hoping to replace them with probably lesser players like Tanner Glass and Matt D’Agostini, that bears keeping in mind for next year. The Pens 3rd line is probably not going to be as strong next season as it was this year.
  • And we say the 3rd line next year isn’t looking promising based off of coach Dan Bylsma’s comments last week floating the idea of Glass replacing some if not all of Matt Cooke’s minutes. Look down Glass’s column (4 red, 1 yellow) and Cooke’s (3 green, 2 yellow, 2 red) to see an example of why that isn’t going to end successfully, barring a major, major turnaround by Glass. D’Agostini may or may not be an adequate replacement for Kennedy (who always fares well in Corsi based measures) but if the Pens think they are going to replace Matt Cooke with Tanner Glass, they’re in for a rude awakening. Sutter isn’t good enough to carry Glass (37.5% this year together).
  • Why did Brenden Morrow’s time as a Penguin not go so well? This chart may show a peak- all red. Not good. Even though we know that he played through a split knee-cap (according to ESPN's Pierre Lebrun), it just never worked out for Morrow, who couldn’t/didn’t get enough up ice pressure. Jarome Iginla, the other big forward acquisition, was a different story, seeing pretty good possession numbers with Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz. It was more a problem of his positioning and where he was lining up, on his unfamiliar left wing, that doomed him in black and Vegas-gold.
  • Encouraging numbers for rookie Beau Bennett, who showed up in green with Malkin and Neal. Pittsburgh had a season long audition to fill that spot trying everyone from Eric Tangradi to Zach Boychuk to Cooke to Glass to Morrow and Iginla and nothing seemed to really stick or click very well. Bennett’s numbers here, in an admitted small sample, show that he could be a productive third member of this line and a reasonable option to play here next year.
  • Chris Kunitz’s reputation as good with everyone is on display here as well. Very strong numbers for the NHL’s 1st team all-star left winger.
  • Dustin Jeffrey put up some reasonably good stats here in of course a limited sample size, again begging the question always asked with Jeffrey…When will he get enough playing time to see just how much (or little) he might contribute over a season? Maybe we’ll get a look at him some more in 2013-14, this exercise is another piece of evidence that says Dustin Jeffrey probably would be a pretty decent NHL player if he got the chance to get some consistent minutes.
  • Cooke, Neal and Sutter win the “we played with the most different guys” award with eight linemates of 50+ minutes. It’s a product of versatility and a testament to their skill and the trust the coach would have in a player like that to give them lots of ice-time. And it’s also a factor of staying healthy to log enough minutes with different linemates throughout the season.

Your thoughts on how it all shook out? Anything else stand out of not quite look right from the data mined out?