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Penguins vs. Coyotes: the Underlying Numbers

The Penguins played the Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Saturday night and came away without any points, falling to the Coyotes by a score of 2 to 1. Shane Doan is garbage. Mike Smith is a baby.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into their second game of the season, the Penguins were looking to bounce back from their 3-0 loss at the hands of the Dallas Stars.

The Penguins came out flat for a few minutes early in the game, got themselves back in it, but too little, too late. Mike Smith made several ridiculous saves in the 3rd period, holding the Coyotes 2-1 lead to the final buzzer, and the Penguins are 0-2, who will be looking for their first win when they head back home to host the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.


Phil Kessel's goal. My god.

Also, the Penguins realizing that splitting up Crosby and Malkin on the PP is probably not the best plan.

Patric Hornqvist being a gigantic pain in the ass in front of the net fuels my soul, especially when it happens to a goalie who is a pissbaby like Mike Smith.

Daniel Sprong has looked good, creating scoring chances and shots. Would like to see him get some more ice time, but it's Game 2, and i'm not one to whine about those kind of things this early in the season. I understand why they're sheltering him a bit.


Terrible start. Coyotes came out flying.

Absolutely ridiculous 3rd period from Mike Smith, but that's not really a negative.

The Penguins power play at times was a big negative. Woof.



Coyotes Penguins
Goals 2 (Reider, Martinook) 1 (Kessel)
SOG 38 28
EV CF% 55.6% 45.4%

Brutal start to the game for the Penguins. I don't know how much of that you can chalk up to the Coyotes being fired up to play in front of a full building in their home opener and coming out hot. Marc-Andre Fleury kept the Penguins afloat early in the game.  Every time the Penguins started to pull back with the Coyotes in terms of shot attempts and offense, the Coyotes just kept bringing it. They're a fun and fast team, very different from Coyotes teams of the past. Adding Max Domi and Anthony Duclair to the mix, bringing back Antoine Vermette, the always great Oliver Ekman-Larsson. They're fun. If they could just get rid of Mike Smith and Shane Doan, they'd be a much more fun team even.

After two periods, things felt very even, despite the Coyotes having a greater number of shots. Then Mike Smith happened. The guy stood on his head in the 3rd period, making at least 3 fantastic saves. The Penguins hit the post once in the 3rd as well. Those kind of periods can be frustrating when it feels like you cannot do anything to make the puck go in the net, and the Penguins have played two of those type of games in the past three days. Oh, and the next goaltender on the schedule is Carey Price.


Expected Goals map provided by Don't Tell Me About Heart.

It's not a big surprise to see the Penguins lacking in Expected Goals, considering how heavily they were outshot by the Coyotes. It is interesting however to see how many of the Coyotes chances came from distance and low danger areas in comparison to a majority of the Penguins chances coming from between the dots and close to the crease.

Clearly, the Penguins need to do better in terms of clearing the net-front area for Fleury, or you have to believe that the goals will just keep coming for opponents.

It does make me laugh that Kessel's goal is not a very high xG goal, mainly because he rules and not many players could snap off the shot with the violent nature that he did from that angle. What a player.

A refresher of the key for these charts (except the diamonds are now circles)

More information and description/analysis of Expected Goals can be found here on Hockey Graphs.

In the previous post here using these charts for the first time, I mentioned how it factors in things like shot quality. A more detailed list of what factors into that shot quality is below:

Seeing all of these things factor into Expected Goals makes it for me, a lot more fun/interesting to analyze than raw shot attempt numbers. Knowing that certain shots provide a better gauge for expectations of future goals makes them much more valuable. This, in addition to the obvious knowledge that expected goals in a game that your team ends up losing isn't just chalked up to a hot goaltender, etc.

The post goes significantly into greater detail with many other variables regarding what makes it a better predictor than shot attempts and goals, much of which is significantly above my education level. But it's worth a read regardless.

Pens Coyotes Shot Charts

5v5 Shot Charts provided by WAR on Ice

Seeing these charts, seeing the XG, and seeing the raw Corsi numbers all together, it feels like a miracle that the Penguins got taken to work at 5v5 and 4v4 and tried to make up ground on the power play (which didn't happen). Thanks Mike Smith.


Pens D
Line-by-line Corsi data provided by Hockey Stats

WELP, Sidney Crosby. Strange couple first games of the season for him. No shots on goal for two games, but I attribute that to having such a highly skilled winger on his line in Phil Kessel. Sergei Plotnikov and David Perron swapped 2nd/3rd line positions about mid-way through the game and it seemed to be a good thing for both lines. The combination of Plotnikov with Evgeni Malkin and Hornqvist wasn't working.

The shot attempt numbers don't reflect it, but I was pleased with Kevin Porter's first game for the Penguins. He is not Bobby Farnham, so he has that going for him. The one thing I noticed right away is when coming down the side of the ice on the wing, nearly every time, he would pull up and look for a pass, and the passes wouldn't be there. I'm not smart enough in terms of systems to know if that's an Arizona thing that was shutting down those lanes or just not good looks passing.

Brian Dumoulin had himself a decent game, especially considering the Titanic anchor that was currently attached to his ankle.

Nick Bonino's scoring chance in the 3rd that was denied by Mike Smith was a fantastic instance of getting himself in scoring position, being ready to shoot, and getting a great shot off. Nothing you can say about that one, other than give kudos to Smith.

Frustrating loss because you could see that the Penguins were doing the right things in the 3rd period to win them the game. Hopefully heading back home, they can get one in the win column against the Canadiens on Tuesday.