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The Underlying Numbers: Penguins vs. Senators

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The Penguins continued their home stand at Consol Energy Center on Thursday night, still looking for the first win of the season against the Ottawa Senators....and they succeeded. Thank God.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, you read that correct, the Pittsburgh Penguins won a game. And they did so in great fashion. Daniel Sprong and Evgeni Malkin both scored fantastic goals, Marc-Andre Fleury pitched a shutout, the Penguins heavily outshot the Senators, and they looked good in the process.

Highlights

Positives

Rob Scuderi did not play hockey for the Penguins on Thursday night.  Adam Clendening replaced Scuderi in the lineup, and together, he and Olli Maatta appeared fairly comfortable playing together.

David Perron. Seven shots on goal. Corsi For Percentage above 60%. After the game, while discussing with a friend, the point was made from them that one of the best things for David Perron could be the competition for that top six spot on a line with Crosby or Malkin. Not being guaranteed a top spot because of awful players available as replacements can lead to complacency, and Perron came very close to notching a goal tonight. The guy is great to watch when his motor is going and he's creating shots and shot attempts like he did tonight.

Daniel Sprong scored his first NHL goal, and it was a beauty. Fantastic pass by Matt Cullen as well.

One would assume that if Beau Bennett's injury is at all long-term that the Penguins would need to keep Sprong past the 9-game limit and let the entry level contract kick in. Maybe. I don't know.

Daniel Sprong's smelling salts game is HIGH too.

I personally am a big fan of Kevin Porter's game for a bottom six depth player. He's capable of producing offensively and chipping in, and he has a nice physical edge to his game as well. The things you want in a 4th-line type player.

The first power-play unit appears to be back to their original setup with Crosby, Malkin, Hornqvist, Kessel, and Letang.

Negatives

The few interference penalties that Adam Clendening took. I hope he doesn't find himself scratched as a result of them.

It can be counted as both as a negative and a positive, but Patric Hornqvist's blocked shots. The guy is a warrior and I love it, provided that he doesn't get hurt.

I am admittedly relieved that the Penguins won the game, so we're not gonna nitpick over any other negatives.

Stats

Senators Penguins
Goals 0 2 (Malkin, Sprong)
SOG 22 36
EV CF% 48.3% 51.7%

Pens Sens Event Chart

The Penguins came out firing, mid-way through the first period they hemmed the Senators in their own, and never really looked back. Both goals came in the 2nd period and they played solid defense and locked things down the rest of the game, without letting the Senators back in the game as we've seen them do with many teams in the past.

Analytics

5v5 Pens Sens shots

5v5 shot attempts for the Penguins. Nice to see a majority of shot attempts from the danger areas in front of the net and right outside of the hextally area. The more shots from that area, combined with traffic can only lead to more and more quality scoring chances.

PP Pens Sens Shots

Power play shot attempts for Penguins, a significant increase from last game. Considering they only had one power play shot attempt against the Canadiens, it was almost impossible to be any worse. Seeing the first unit shaken back up the personnel we initially had seen, it's only a matter of time before a unit with that kind of fire power can click.

Sens PP Shots

Four missed shots and four blocked shots for the Senators power play. It felt like they missed way more than four shots, but the eye test has failed me yet again.

Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

SO. MANY. QUALITY. SCORING. CHANCES.

It's not a surprise to see the Penguins leading in Expected Goals for this game, considering how they outshot the Senators, and also seeing how several of the Senators chances on the power play were missed or blocked shots.

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

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 Sens Player Shot Charts

Bobby Farnham, the true flatliner.

5v5 Individual Shot Charts provided by WAR on Ice

Pens Sens Fs

It's not even remotely surprising to see how well the Penguins second line did, especially considering that David Perron had 9 individual shot attempts and 7 shots on goal. Even with bottom-six players floating sub-50%, it feels far removed from the past where the Penguins depth players struggled to stay afloat.

Pens Sens D

Brian Dumoulin and Ben Lovejoy sky high, what a country.

Line-by-line Corsi data provided by Hockey Stats

All in all, a good win for the Penguins. I'm not sure how much to write off the Senators because of two games in two nights on the road, but you can't discount the fact that they put seven goals in the back of the net in Columbus just 24 hours prior.

Hopefully the Penguins can keep things rolling when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. I truly speak for all of us when I say that I hope Phil Kessel scores a hat-trick and makes fun of Steve Simmons publicly after doing so.