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the Underlying Numbers: Penguins vs. Avalanche

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The Penguins finished their road trip against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver, and were able to pull out a win, bringing their road trip tally to an even 2 wins and 2 losses.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Lines and Pairings

Highlights

Positives

Beau Bennett. Great performance from Beau in the 3rd period, playing on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

Garbage goal. Nice to see Patric Hornqvist rewarded with a goal, as much of a garbage goal as it may have been. The goal gave the Penguins the lead and pissed off Reto Berra and Patrick Roy.

Olli Maatta is playing like his old self. And that could not be better news for the Penguins. Between his recent offensive production, and what Maatta's presence has the potential to do for Kris Letang's game, Maatta's play being back to his rookie season's level could be a shot in the arm that this team needs.

Come-from behind win. Another win when trailing entering the 3rd period, something we have heard about for a long time after not being able to do, well, ever.

The Penguins twitter account. This rules.

David Warsofsky. I am an Adam Clendening fan, but it's hard to justify taking Warsofsky out of the lineup right now. He skates well, and he has a shot-first mentality. When he gets the puck and has an open look at the net, he takes it. That's something the Penguins absolutely need.

Negatives

The Coaches Challenge system. Again. Patric Hornqvist's goal was kind of a clusterfuck, seeing how Olli Maatta shot the puck, it took a deflection, crossed through some high sticks, hit the net, then went in. The on-ice officials reviewed the goal, which means the war-room in Toronto reviewed it as well. It was ruled a good goal. Then Patrick Roy decided to challenge the call for goaltender interference. Why is this allowed? What a waste of time. Can we presume that the officials would have ruled it no-goal if there was interference on the play? Oh well. It's not my timeout that Patrick Roy wasted, but it seems absolutely silly that this is even an option.

Beau's knee. After scoring two very nice goals to tie the game for the Penguins, and give them a 2-goal lead, he took a bit of a nasty knee-on-knee hit from Erik Johnson, that didn't look to be intentional or malicious. He seemed okay afterwards and continued to try and stand on the bench to put weight on it and skated out a time or two during timeouts and stoppages in play, but I don't think he had any shifts after the hit, but there was only maybe 4 or 5 minutes left in the game, so leaving him out was probably the right decision regardless. Let's just hope he is alright.

Daniel Sprong 3rd Period. Why is this a continual thing? I understand that he's 18 years old, and i understand wanting to ease him in, not give him top-line minutes and top defensive matchups. But why keep him from being on the ice at all in the 3rd period? I don't get it.

David Perron needs to finish better. When you're playing with Malkin and Kessel, you will be relied upon to create space for those two players, so it'd be understandable to see your personal goal production maybe dip a little if you're playing more of a checking/corner role, but he needs to finish the chances he is getting.

Stats

Avalanche Penguins
Goals 2 (Duchene, Johnson) 4 (Cullen, Bennett, Hornqvist, Bennett)
Shots on Goal 26 33
5v5 Corsi For Percentage 37.8% 62.2%

Analytics

My, oh my. You look at the Penguins continuing to ramp it up after the first period, and then you see the third period goals, and it's like they earned and got what they deserved.

Even Strength Shot Attempts

Much better, Penguins. I hope this kind of performance can continue against a team like the Kings on Friday.

Power Play Shot Attempts

Not much going for the Penguins here, but I do like seeing that a majority of Colorado's PP shots came from distance and areas that are low scoring-chance shots.

Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

Expected Goals

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:

Head-to-Head Shot Attempts

Fantastic matchups for the Penguins top-six forwards, as well as the Letang-Maatta pairing. Tyson Barrie and Nick Holden couldn't even keep their heads above water against Letang and Maatta, and the Kunitz-Crosby-Bennett and Perron-Malkin-Kessel lines neutralized the top two lines for Colorado in the shot attempts battle.

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

Individual Shot Attempts

Even if you aren't very well versed in analytics, and use them as an accessory to watching the game, a chart like this says a lot. When all the Penguins are above the baseline for positive numbers, and all the Avalanche are below the baseline for negative numbers, it's fair to suggest that the Penguins dominated shot attempts/possession in this game.

Individual Shot Attempts Charts via War on Ice

Line-by-Line Shot Attempts

Individual Player Corsi Data via Hockey Stats

All in all, 2 wins and 2 losses on the road trip is okay. The Penguins have had success on the California trip in recent years, but the Sharks, Kings, and Ducks are perennially good teams, so it's not an easy trip. The Penguins:

  • beat the Sharks in a game they were heavily out-shot, but found a way to win by 4 goals
  • were fully outclassed by the Kings, spotting them an early lead and then deciding to show up before it was too late
  • played a very close game against the Ducks that could've gone either way but came away just short and lost
  • and got a win they deserved against the Avalanche.

Playing .500 on the road trip feels about right. The Penguins now head back home with 5 of their next 6 games at Consol, starting off hosting the LA Kings on Friday night.