Yesterday the Pittsburgh Penguins released an interview with Captain Sidney Crosby that identified the game in which he injured his wrist last season. Sleuthy local bloggers even managed to identify what they presume to be the exact play in which it happened. So armed with the knowledge of when he got hurt, we can use the useful date range feature at War on Ice to identify changes in his performance throughout the year.
In order to compare the differences then we will be looking at three different time periods. From the beginning of the season on October 3rd through Pascal Dupuis' last full fame on December 21st covers 38 games. From the game in which Dupuis got hurt, only playing 1:10, on December 23rd until the last game prior to Crosby getting injured on March 22nd covers 32 games for Crosby and 30 for Chris Kunitz. Lastly, March 23rd when Crosby's wrist was injured through the end of the playoffs on May 13th covers 23 games.
First and foremost let's take a look at how the 1st line's usage changed throughout the year, since how they are utilized in game will have a big impact on their production, particularly the on-ice team performance.
TOI% QoC doesn't appear to have changed much, but there is a very limited range of values even between 1st and 4th line players, so even a fraction of a percent can be a significant shift. At the beginning of the year when Dupuis was healthy, Crosby and Kunitz had a TOI% QoC of 30.2. After Dupuis got hurt, Crosby dropped to 29.8 while Kunitz fell to 29.9. Lastly, after Crosby got hurt it decreased again to 29.6 for Crosby and 29.5 for Kunitz. While it may not be a big difference, it does seem evident that the 1st line was tasked with facing easier opponents as the year went on due to injuries and having less competent linemates to work with.
5-on-5 zone starts also saw a pretty significant shift throughout the year. When Dupuis was healthy Crosby had a 48.4 ZS% and -3.7 Rel, while Kunitz had a 50.3 ZS% and -0.6 Rel. After Dupuis got hurt, that changed completely with Crosby getting a 52.4 ZS% and 9.0 Rel, while Kunitz had a 50.8 ZS% and 6.7 Rel. Then after Crosby got hurt they got even more sheltered, with Crosby at 63.3 ZS% and 13.0 Rel, while Kunitz was at 62.0 ZS% and 10.6 Rel.
We can also see a similar trend when looking at Close zone starts. When Dupuis was healthy Crosby had a 49.8 ZS% and -6.5 Rel, while Kunitz had a 52.7 ZS% and -1.7 Rel. After Dupuis got hurt, that changed completely with Crosby getting a 51.8 ZS% and 10.5 Rel, while Kunitz had a 50.9 ZS% and 8.8 Rel. Then after Crosby got hurt they got even more sheltered, with Crosby at 60.4 ZS% and 9.3 Rel, while Kunitz was at 59.5 ZS% and 7.6 Rel.
So as far as player usage is concerned, it appears that when the 1st line included Dupuis they were used as a shutdown line, getting more D-zone time and facing a higher calibre of opponent. That would have had an impact on their on-ice numbers, particularly possession. After Dupuis got hurt they shifted away from this trend, likely due to the rotating replacements not being good enough to handle what Dupuis could. And then after Crosby got hurt they were even more sheltered, although some of that may be due to skating with Evgeni Malkin during the playoffs.
Individual Performance - All Situations
One thing that really stand out is faceoffs. At the beginning of the season, facing tougher opponents and tilted towards D-zone starts, Crosby won 451 of 917 for a 49.2 FO%. After Dupuis got hurt and his usage changed, Crosby went 453 of 759 for a 59.7 FO%. However, after injuring his wrist he finished the year at just 166 of 505 for a 32.9 FO%.
Another issue is their ability to score. At the beginning of the season while playing with Dupuis, Crosby had 0.47 G20, while Kunitz had 0.53. After Dupuis got hurt their production fell slightly, Crosby at 0.39 and Kunitz at 0.41. But after Crosby got hurt it plummeted even further, Crosby to 0.12 and Kunitz at 0.27.
We see a similar trend in Points as well. At the beginning of the season while playing with Dupuis, Crosby had 1.26 P20, while Kunitz had 1.05. After Dupuis got hurt that fell a little bit, Crosby at 1.13 and Kunitz at 0.78. Finally, after Crosby got hurt they went lower still, Crosby at 0.75 and Kunitz at 0.63.
They continued to shoot the puck at roughly the same rate, even managing to fling more rubber at the net after Crosby got hurt. For S20, Crosby went from 2.6 to 2.2 to 2.8, whereas Kunitz went from 2.6 to 2.2 to 2.7. We see similar trends in C20, with Crosby going from 4.4 to 3.7 to 5.6, while Kunitz went from 4.3 to 3.9 to 4.9.
So the injuries did not effect their ability to get shots off, just how successful they were at converting said shots to points on the scoreboard. That is most evident in S%, where Crosby went from 18.2 to 18.2 to 4.2, and Kunitz went from 20.0 to 18.5 to 10.0. We can do the same for FS%, seeing Crosby go from 13.6 to 12.3 to 2.9, whereas Kunitz went from 15.2 to 13.2 to 7.1.
It appears that losing Dupuis had a very slight effect on the 1st line's individual production, but that the biggest issue was after Crosby got hurt they were unable to convert on their chances. The injured wrist made a huge impact on both his ability to win faceoffs and his ability to accurately shoot the puck, which in turn ultimately led to the Penguins' inability to win.
5-on-5 On-Ice Team Goals
The one-ice numbers follow the same trends as we saw with the individual production. With Dupuis, Crosby had a 1.13 GF20 and Kunitz had a 1.19. After Dupuis got hurt, Crosby had a 1.04 and Kunitz a 1.23. However, when Crosby got hurt it fell, Crosby with a 0.89 and Kunitz a 0.78.
Dupuis did offer a solid defensive addition to the line though, although late in the year we see sheltered zone starts are even more advantageous. Crosby's GA went from 0.84 to 1.00 to 0.61, whereas Kunitz went from 0.65 to 0.94 to 0.90.
When looking at the GF% then we see those same trends. With Dupuis, Crosby was a 57.4 GF% and 6.0 Rel, while Kunitz was 64.7 and 17.1 Rel. After Dupuis got hurt the numbers fell slightly, Crosby at 51.0 and 3.5 Rel, with Kunitz at 56.5 and 12.4 Rel. However, after Crosby got hurt and saw more sheltered minutes we see a very confusing result, as Crosby had a 59.3 GF% and 14.4 Rel, but Kunitz had a 46.4 and -6.9 Rel.
Once again we see that losing Dupuis did have an imapct on the 1st line production. However, while the offensive production continued to take a hit, we see that the sheltered minutes they received after Crosby got hurt did at least provide them with a decent defensive performance, resulting in a nice overall GF%, for Crosby at least.
Close On-Ice Possession
When looking at the possession numbers we see a similar trend to what we found while looking at the individual shot totals. The players were more or less shooting the puck as often as they were at the start of the season, perhaps a slight drop when Dupuis got hurt and bumping back up late in the year when they got more sheltered minutes. FF20 Crosby went from 17.3 to 14.4 to 18.2, whereas Kunitz went from 17.1 to 13.8 to 17.9. CF20 Crosby went from 22.8 to 19.2 to 25.4, while Kunitz went from 22.8 to 18.6 to 24.2.
The defensive side of the puck shows a simialar trend, losing Dupuis had a slight impact, but getting sheltered starts at the end of the year helped bring them back down. FA20 Crosby went from 13.0 to 13.7 to 12.0, whereas Kunitz went from 12.6 to 14.4 to 13.2. CA20 Crosby went from 18.1 to 18.2 to 16.1, while Kunitz went from 18.1 to 18.6 to 17.4.
And as one can imagine, the percentages then would also display this trend. When Dupuis was healthy, Crosby was a 57.2 FF% and 5.1 Rel, while Kunitz was a 57.7 and 5.5 Rel. After Dupuis got hurt, Crosby was 51.2 and 7.6 Rel, while Kunitz was 48.9 and 3.2 Rel. Lastly, after Crosby got hurt they went up, Crosby at 60.3 and 11.7 Rel, while Kunitz was 57.4 and 7.3 Rel. We can do the same for Corsi, with Dupuis in the lineup Crosby was a 55.7 CF% and 5.5 Rel, while Kunitz was a 55.7 and 5.3 Rel. Then after Dupuis got hurt Crosby was a 51.3 and 7.7 Rel, while Kunitz was a 50.0 and 4.9 Rel. Lastly after Crosby got hurt, Crosby was a 61.2 and 11.5 Rel, while Kunitz was a 58.2 and 7.1 Rel.
All in all we can see some pretty significant trends. Losing Dupuis was pretty important, the production may not have dropped by much, but it did indeed fall. But Crosby's injury was huge, his wrist really effected their ability to score and quite likely attributed to the Penguins playoff woes. Interestingly though, as the season went on and the 1st line faced weaker QoC and got more sheltered zone starts we did see them improve as far as defense, shooting the puck, and overall possession was concerned. But unfortunately that didn't translate into increased offensive production.