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Penguins vs. Canadiens: the Underlying Numbers

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The Penguins hosted the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, attempting to get their first win of the season. Spoiler: they didn't. The Penguins are 0-3.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Penguins opened their season at Consol Energy Center with a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. They fell behind fairly early, but showed resolve. Beau Bennett was the only Penguins player who showed up in the first period (four of the team's five shots in the opening 20 minutes), and the rest of the team decided to join him for the second frame. The third period was very average. Giving up the 3rd goal felt like a backbreaker going against Carey Price, which ended up being the case.

Positives:

Beau Bennett. The much-criticized (by myself as well) young winger came to play tonight. Fantastic shot to beat Carey Price clean on the Penguins opening goal of the game.

The Penguins 3rd line in general. This combination of Bennett, Nick Bonino, and Sergei Plotnikov might be lightning in a bottle. Nick Bonino's awareness in the defensive zone is something special to watch.

Down by a goal with 5 minutes remaining in the game, Mike Johnston went to his 3-headed monster. Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin on the ice together. They came close to generating a goal with 2 minutes left, but Carey Price was Carey Price and made a ridiculous save.

Negatives:

Allowing the first goal wasn't the problem, but it's a problem. If it continues happening regularly, it can keep the Penguins from getting into a groove early in games.

The Penguins PK is bad. Max Pacioretty's second goal literally couldn't have been any easier for him. He snuck inside the towards the dot, Scuderi didn't pressure, nor did he clear Gallagher from Fleury's space.

The ridiculous decision to not call on a penalty on the hook on Plotnikov in the 3rd period that led to the Fleischmann goal. How embarrassing. Can't get beat clean near post there if you're Fleury, either.

Allowing a 3-on-1 while on the power play. Please don't do that ever again.

Highlights

Stats

Canadiens Penguins
Goals 3 (Max Pacioretty x2), Tomas Fleischmann 2 (Beau Bennett, Kris Letang)
SOG 30 33
EV CF% 48.4% 51.6%


Pens Habs Shot Chart

The Penguins came out for the 2nd period with heavy shots, but they couldn;t replicate the same story for the 3rd period. It ended up allowing the Canadiens to get the game deciding goal on a bad break and lack of a penalty call, followed by a bad goal allowed by Fleury. Weird sequence.

Analytics

Okay, so there are plenty of hot takes out there about the Penguins power play being hot garbage. I don't know how to fix it. I am not an X's and O's person. I defer to others on that. But what i do know is that this shit is unacceptable.

Pens PP

Yes, that is the entire sequence of power play ice time for the Penguins against the Canadiens. I mean, come on. One god damn shot.

For comparison, here is the same chart showing the power play production for the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning from Monday afternoon. (H/T to Asmean for showing me this.)

Lightning Bruins PP

Power play shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

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

More quality goal scoring chances for the Penguins at even strength. Special teams was a joke for the Penguins, but they did at least limit the Canadiens to few quality chances on the PP. This magnifies the bad power play goal scored by Pacioretty even more.

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:

The post goes significantly into greater detail with many other variables regarding what makes it a better predictor than shot attempts and goals.

Pens Habs Shot Charts
5v5 Shot Charts provided by WAR on Ice

So the Penguins bottom six has been better in terms of shot rates and shot attempts? That is a very different dynamic in regard to the Penguins. It gives me hope that when things come together for the power play (or should i say, if, things come together), if the bottom six continue to produce, we know that the top six can produce and things should be okay.

Pens Habs Forwards

That Penguins 3rd line. That's a bright spot for sure.

Pens Habs Defense

Rob Scuderi is elite? Yes, that's it. I don't know. Some things can't be explained. End of days. Apocalypse-type stuff.

Line-by-line Corsi data provided by Hockey Stats

Was nice to see the Penguins come back and tie things twice, at 1-1, and 2-2. It's a shame they ended up losing the game 3-2, but the reality of the situation is that they played well enough to win, and might win a majority of those kinds of games if they aren't playing against Carey Price.

Losing that game 3-2 also doesn't feel anywhere close to as frustrating if the Penguins hadn't dropped their first 2 games against the Stars and Coyotes as well.

We'll try that whole 'winning' thing over again on Thursday when the Ottawa Senators come to town.