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The Underlying Numbers: Penguins vs. Maple Leafs

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A look at the advanced stats from the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs are not supposed to win much this year, just like Buffalo Sabres last season. The ultimate prize they want this season is a high draft pick. On the way to that goal, they also want to trade away most of their soon-to-be unrestricted free agents at the trade deadline to collect even more draft picks. The ideal game for them:

  • Lose
  • Play sound hockey that keeps tilting the ice in their favour, but lacks talent to win the game
  • Solid play, goals, and assists for the Leafs players they want to trade
In that way, while the Penguins still gave them the loss they wanted, the actual win may have been that the Leafs didn't look good while doing it.

It's easy to expect a win over a team with a 1-7-2 record, who are playing the 2nd game of a back-to-back. Shutting them out, and scoring 4 goals in the process is still an impressive result, especially from a team that has made many go "they really only lost one game in their last 8?".

Babcock on last night's game:

Lines and Pairings

Highlights

Positives

Eric Fehr name pun. I'm in love. One goal, and one assist in his Penguins debut and a strong performance even beyond those point totals.

Secondary Scoring. Scary Halloween idea: the Penguins bottom 6 dressed up as Craig Adams, Zach Sill, Tanner Glass, Max Lapierre. That didn't happen yesterday, and they combined for 3 of the 4 goals.

Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the best goalies in the league so far.

Negatives

The 5 minute power play. At that time, it would have been the difference between a 1-0 game, and a 2-0 game. While the game ended in a comfortable 4-0, ideally you score when given such an opportunity. But with their PPG against the Sabres, the Penguins did manage to break this streak:

The D pairs. You could make a case that Lovejoy and Dumoulin have been the Penguins best D pair recently. While that's nice, it also says something about the performance from the other two pairings. From Emmanuel Perry (@mannyElk), a look at each pairings CF% per period in last night's game:

Pairing 1st period 2nd period 3rd period
Cole - Letang 33.33 CF% 16.67 CF% 55.56 CF%
Dumoulin - Lovejoy 30 CF% 75 CF% 37.50 CF%
Maatta - Scuderi 33 CF% 42.86 CF% 57.14 CF%

It's never good when your first pairing struggles like this through the first two periods of a game, and with Cole and Letang it's turning into a trend. Rutherford hinted at Pouliot returning from the AHL in the near future, so the D pairings will maybe see a makeover soon regardless of their performance. It's looking like a much needed one.

Stats

Leafs Penguins
Goals 0 4
Shots on Goal 21 32
Even Strength Corsi For Percentage 50% 50%

The Penguins were up 3-0 by the middle of the 2nd period. Instead of sitting back and allowing the other team to get back into the game (which they were guilty of in their last couple games), they kept pushing, made it 4-0, and controlled play for the rest of the game.

Analytics

Even Strength Shot Attempts

Power Play Shot Attempts

Both the Penguins and Leafs had around 7 minutes of power play time. While the Penguins managed quite a few shots, 7 of them came from the 2nd PP unit (who also scored the PP goal). The Penguins had 10 shot attempts on the PP. Perron had 4, Hornqvist 2, and Kunitz/Maatta/Malkin/Bonino each had one.

Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

Penguins earned their win. In the third period, the Leafs seemed to have given up already. Considering the 4-0 lead, and it being their 2nd game on a back-to-back, maybe not very surprising.

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:

H2H Chart via Muneeb Alam from Japers' Rink

A basic description on how to read these charts: Cross reference a player from each team, and that box shows how many shot attempts each team had while those two players shared ice time.

For a refresher on how to read these charts, a write-up with descriptions of what colors mean, which lines to read, and more: H2H Corsi Chart Primer

This shows how thin the Leafs are on talent. Even considering the 4-0 result, a good performance by their 1st line. But beyond that? Not much more. Especially a certain ex-Penguin had a rough, rough game.

Score-adjusted chart from Micah Blake McCurdy via hockeyviz.com

McCurdy is doing great work, and one part of that are these charts that are adjusted for score effects (= teams attempting more shots when they trail, less when they lead). Consider supporting his work - more info about it here. For help reading them, you can just easily look into what word is in each corner: Good - Fun - Bad - Dull.

The Penguins are for the most part on the right side of the red line. Not Ian Cole's best game.

5v5 Individual Shot Charts provided by War on Ice

Babcock's impact on the Leafs has been immediate. The Leafs have gone from constantly being outshot in prior seasons to having one of the best shot attempts differentials in the league so far. The only thing missing currently is the talent to score enough goals, and good goaltending. Meanwhile, the Penguins had a couple rough games and have been trending in the wrong direction, despite the wins. This game is what a team like the Penguins should be able to do to a team like the Maple Leafs. Now to see if they can build on it.