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the Underlying Numbers: Penguins vs. Blues

The St. Louis Blues came to town on Wednesday evening to square off against the Penguins, and the Penguins came away victorious, by a score of 4 to 3.

Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

This one feels like a signature win. The Blues are no slouch of a team. They have a ton of offensive firepower, between players such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alex Steen, and young talent in Robby Fabbri.

What I like most about this type of win, is that the Penguins showed resolve. Coming from behind to tie the game at 1, taking the lead twice, with St. Louis coming back to tie it both times, before winning it in overtime.

Lines and Pairings



Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. My word.

The way they linked up for the game-winning goal was something special. The simple look to shoot that Kessel gave Jake Allen froze the defender, and his little dish to Malkin gave him all the time in the world and he embarrassed Allen.

Sidney Crosby. Holy shit, Sid. I believe there is a rift that is permanently lodged in the back of that net.

I am such a gigantic fan of when players let slap shots rip from close range, and even more so when the player is pissed off at someone. Lookin' at you, Matthew Barnaby. What an idiot.

Marc-Andre Fleury. Kept the Penguins afloat early while the Blues were gaining some ground.

The Penguins fourth line. Hallelujah, holy shit, the Penguins have forward depth. This 4th line that's being rolled out, featuring:

  • Sergei Plotnikov, who arguably was the best Penguin throughout the game that didn't score
  • Matt Cullen, who somehow, is 39 years old, but is playing like he is 29
  • Eric Fehr, who is proving his worth and value to the Penguins


Marc-Andre Fleury. A couple bad goals, but I will be the last person to criticize him with the season he is having and the number of times he has bailed out the Penguins so far.

The Blues Power Play. It's only a negative because it makes me sad how ridiculously good it looks and how I wish the Penguins could look as good. That goal that Paul Stastny scored. Come on.


Blues Penguins
Goals 3 (Stastny, Fabbri, Pietrangelo) 4 (Crosby x2, Lovejoy, Malkin)
Shots on Goal 32 34
5v5 Corsi For Percentage 45.8% 54.2%

A lot of the Penguins recent wins haven't felt like "quality wins." This game, the numbers back up the results. A win against a very good team in the Blues, where the Penguins won on the score sheet, as well as won the shot battle and the possession metrics battle.

Continuing to outpace the Blues was fun to watch.


Even Strength Shot Attempts

Feels like the Blues had more quality shot attempts in this one, while the Penguins had more in quantity.

Power Play Shot Attempts

Ultimately, both teams kept it simple, a goal for each team. Nothing fancy, nothing dominant with the man-advantage.

Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

Extremely evenly matched game on all sides, the numbers match up, and the xG matches up. Not surprised at all to see the game go to OT.

Nice to see the Penguins finishing the high-scoring area chances that they had.

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:

Crosby's line did okay with pretty much everyone head-to-head, aside from the Blues top line, and the Parayko-Bortuzzo pairing.  Fantastic night from the Penguins fourth line. And wonderful of Clendening and Cole to only have a shot attempt differential of -2 or -3 against Tarasenko, Steen, and Stastny. Impressive stuff.

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. The + and - are from the home team's perspective.

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

H2H Chart via Muneeb Alam from Japers' Rink

Rough night for Dumoulin and Lovejoy. Did we perhaps find magic in the Ian Cole and Adam Clendening pairing?

5v5 Individual Shot Charts provided by War on Ice

That fourth line, my word. If they can continue to keep the offensive pressure like this, two things will happen: the goals will come....and even if they don't, that kind of pressure will make matchups ultimately easier on Crosby and Malkin's lines.

Adam Clendening and Ian Cole forever.

Pulitzer Prize for Kris Letang for keeping Scuderi afloat again? Wait, can we just call Kris Letang 'the life jacket' because he keeps Rob Scuderi afloat on a daily basis?

Line-by-line Corsi data provided by Hockey Stats

Happy Thanksgiving to all, the Penguins are off today, obviously, but get back in the saddle quickly, heading to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets tomorrow evening.