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the Underlying Numbers: Penguins vs. Predators

Following their loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, the Penguins took to the road. They left for Nashville, where they would face off against the Predators, hoping to get back on track and in the win column. Spoiler: We're back in the win column, baby.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins beat the Predators. The Predators were 6-1 going into the game. That's a good thing. Positive is positive, a win is a win. Marc-Andre Fleury was outstanding.  It ended up being a very close game, very back-and-forth. As a lot of games have felt recently, it came down to who made the last mistake. In this case, that last mistake was letting Phil Kessel have the puck. A win is a win.

Lines and Pairings



Fantastic goal by Chris Kunitz. The way it worked, with Malkin coming out of the penalty box to find strength in numbers and set up Kunitz was beautiful. Chris Kunitz and his teammates seemed to be a bit relieved about him scoring a goal after a cold streak.

Phil! What a goal. 3-on-3 Overtime is special, and Phil Kessel is even more special. Yeah, yeah, we know that Filip Forsberg got 'tripped' by Evgeni Malkin. Get over it.

For more, let's take it to our Pensblog correspondent on the ground in Nashville. Adam, take it away.

/Pounds gavel. Kessel would have smoked him whether he fell down or not.

Marc-Andre Fleury. What a performance. Kept the Predators at bay early in the game, stood on his head late in the game to keep the game tied.


That five minute power play. Holy shit. I mean, come on. They were lucky to not get scored on, and big picture, I'm happy that Brian Dumoulin is okay.

The Predators are pissbabies. They started off the game all jammed up and were taking runs at Penguins left and right. I don't get it. Like chill out, Roman Josi.

Mike Johnston choosing not to challenge the goal that James Neal scored will be a harping point for his critics for a long time, but it's a non-issue.


Predators Penguins
Goals 1 2
Shots on Goal 39 25
Even Strength Corsi For Percentage 62.2% 37.8%

My word, that third period from Nashville was something else. They just kept bringing it. Kudos to Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins for standing tall during that onslaught, even getting to Overtime.


Even Strength Shot Attempts

Power Play Shot Attempts

Four shots on goal, across nine minutes of power play time, five of which all came together at the same time. From an average of 44.5 feet from the net per shot on goal. Jesus christ. That is just unacceptable.

Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

Holy shit, Nashville. Quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance. This shows how remarkable it was for Fleury to keep Nashville to one goal on the scoreboard. That's a stolen win for sure.

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:

My word, that line of Mike Fisher, Filip Forsberg, and James Neal did WORK. Couple that with Shea Weber and Roman Josi, and they had dominant possession time while on the ice.

Refresher on how to read these charts: It works like a cross reference. Line up Crosby with each player to see the number of shot attempts + or - for the Penguins (or their opponent) while Crosby and that player were on the ice together. The darker the box, the lesser the ice time shared. The brighter the box, the more ice time shared.

H2H Chart via Muneeb Alam from Japers' Rink


5v5 Individual Shot Charts provided by War on Ice

EWar on Ice veryone sub-below 50% is not a good thing. However, after two periods, shots were 17-15 in favor of Nashville. The third period is really where they ramped things up and took over the game in terms of possession. The Penguins came away with the win despite being heavily outshot, and while that might not happen on the regular in those circumstances, it did last night, and it happened on the road against one of the best teams in the Western Conference right now.

Line-by-line Corsi data provided by Hockey Stats

Three games in a row being outshot at even strength. Even more reason that the power play needs to get it together, and the sooner the better. Winning two games while being outshot is nice, but it shouldn't become a regular thing.

The Penguins will head to our nations capital, Washington, DC, to face off against Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals on Rivalry Night on Wednesday. The games between the Pens and Caps last year were all must-watch. I'm hoping for another fantastic one.

The theme last season for the Penguins was being poor against Metropolitan Division teams, while beating other teams from outside the division. Wednesday night is the first chance this season for the Penguins to try and buck that trend.