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The Underlying Numbers: Penguins vs. Sharks

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Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel power the Penguins to their first win in San Jose since 1997! Here's our recap of the 5-1 Pittsburgh win over the Sharks.

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Lines and Pairings



The "second" line. With the way Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin are playing, they're really the top-line. Kessel got a fortunate bounce on the first goal of the game, but the way to earn fortunate bounces to do what he did; control the puck in the offensive zone, circle and throw it to the net.

Malkin. Needs more love. 8 goals and 5 assists in his past 7 games, when Geno finds his top gear he's as dominant a player as exists in the game today. Right now he is clicking like an expensive Swiss watch. How is it even possible, in the NHL, to score a wraparound goal? (Well, Martin Jones so far out of position helps). But still, my goodness Geno.

4th line play. As we'll see below, another monster game possession wise for the Penguins 4th game. Matt Cullen chipped in with his second goal of the season, Eric Fehr earned an assist and Sergei Plotnikov seems to get more comfortable every game out. Plots had 1 shot on goal (3 total attempts), 3 hits, a giveaway and a takeaway in a very active 12:59 played.

Good bounces. It was about time the Pens got some. We talked about Kessel's goal above. Culleen tucked a puck off Jones's skate and in. The Sharks hit a cross-bar and got a goal washed out for interference in the second period. San Jose missed the net shooting 20 shots. In a long season sometimes a team gets some bounces/luck/calls, and sometimes they don't, chalk this one up for Pittsburgh in the good column.


Dupuis leaving early. Pascal Dupuis didn't return after the second intermission. "He wasn't feeling well at the end of the second," said coach Mike Johnston after the game. Sadly, you never know what that could mean for Dupuis who has battled blood clot situations in the past. As always, we wish all the best for him and hopefully this was something minor and unrelated.

First line. If you really wanted to nit-pick a 5-1 win, you could look at a poor night from the Sidney Crosby line, who got crushed on possession and didn't generate very many chances (Crosby; 1 SOG, Chris Kunitz; 0 shot attempts, though he did record his first two assists of the season). The Pens haven't figured out how to fix the Crosby line, and with Dupuis' status unknown, they might have to tinker with this some more moving forward.


Sharks Penguins
Goals 1 (Marleauu) 5 (Kessel, Cullen, Malkin, Perron, Kessel (ENG)
Shots on Goal 34 29
5v5 Corsi For Percentage 62.8% 37.2%




Power Play Shot Attempts


Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

As expected for a team trailing 3-0, 3-1 or 4-1 for most the second half of the game, the Sharks turned on the Corsi and score effected their way to a strong showing here. The big story is ALL the missed shots by San Jose, who simply could not hit the net. And, when they did, it was fairly easy saves for Marc-Andre Fleury who had a quietly solid night stopping 33 of 34, including 7/8 while the Pens were short-handed.

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:


Kris Letang is sinking like he has an anchor attached to his left leg...Oh wait. And a nice, quiet but good night for David Warsofsky who made his Pittsburgh debut (subbing in for healthy scratch Adam Clendening). Warsofsky is a slight but a good skater and looked decent with the puck on his stick.

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

Line-by-line Corsi data provided by Hockey Stats and @MikeDarnay


As Muneeb mentioned above, the Paul Martin - Brent Burns combo did a number on the Pens top line. Other than that, and considering score effects, the rest of the team had a good night, including the bottom 6 and bottom 4 defensemen.

Now the Pens get an excessively long break before Saturday night's game against the Kings. Not too many better places to be stranded for a few days in December than California though.