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the Underlying Numbers: Penguins vs. Canucks

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the Penguins hosted the Vancouver Canucks for an afternoon matinee and it started out poorly. The second game in a row in which the Penguins spot their opponent a 2-0 lead. They came from behind yet again and won the game 5-4.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lines and Pairings

The Penguins however, did make a last minute change to the lineup, with Chris Kunitz sitting the game out as a result of the hit he took against the Flyers. Conor Sheary replaced him in the lineup.

Beau Bennett returned to the lineup Saturday afternoon after missing several weeks due to injury. Derrick Pouliot got a spot in the lineup in place of Ian Cole.

The Penguins also mixed their pairings up a bit on the back end, breaking up what has been a regular combo of Brian Dumoulin and Ben Lovejoy, opting to mix Trevor Daley and Derrick Pouliot between them, while leaving Olli Maatta and Kris Letang paired together.

Highlights

Positives

Pens win another come-from-behind game. Starting out 2-0 is bad news, but they erased that start as well as erasing a 3-1 lead to come back and win.

Geno. Hat trick for Malkin. What a game.

Carl Hagelin's speed. Some players use their puck skills to create space in plays, Hagelin's speed alone is an asset to create space.

Negatives

Atrocious start. You can't start a game giving up a goal in 27 seconds. But they did. It started out like a typical Penguins afternoon game.

Pens defensemen getting smoked. Maatta, Lovejoy, and Pouliot, all were blown past by Canucks speed early in the game.

Not a good game for the Penguins at 5v5, but a win is a win. A lot of the boost that the Penguins got from their swell to tie the game and take the lead skew the numbers back to 50%.

Stats

Canucks Penguins
Goals 4 (Hansen, Hansen, Horvat, Hansen) 5 (Malkin, Malkin, Malkin, Rust, Crosby)
Shots on Goal 32 30
5v5 Corsi For Percentage 50% 50%

Analytics

Nice of the Penguins to join the party for the 3rd period. Amazing.

Even Strength Shot Attempts

Funny to see how the Penguins scored their goals at 5v5 from one side of the ice, and the Canucks scored theirs from one side of the ice. Those kind of things fascinate me.

Power Play Shot Attempts

Good power play stuff from the Penguins. Not so much from the Canucks. They only had one power play, but not a single shot attempt is bad news.

Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

Expected Goals

Marc-Andre Fleury was not at his best to start this game, but he kept the Penguins afloat and gave them a chance to get back into it when they needed him to.

A refresher of the key for these charts:

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:

Expected Goals map provided by Don't Tell Me About Heart.

Head-to-Head Shot Attempts

Very good game for the Canucks top line of Vrbata, Horvat, and Baertschi. Same story from their 4th line too. I'm going to pretend that the catalyst of this is Jake Virtanen, because I love Jake Virtanen.

All in all, not a good day for matchups for the Penguins.

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

Looks like a typical 50% kind of game. Some good, some bad, for both teams.

Individual Shot Attempts Charts via War on Ice

Line-by-Line Shot Attempts

A little mixing of lines went on with the spot that Conor Sheary was in for Chris Kunitz. He started the game there, but Matt Cullen took some shifts there, as well as Beau Bennett.

The Penguins 2nd line of Carl Hagelin, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel sustains me. They're amazing.

Rough day for Kris Letang and Olli Maatta, which generally is a rarity, so when it happens and the Penguins end up stealing a win, you can deal with it. I'm interested to see how Brian Dumoulin performs moving forward, should he stay separated from Ben Lovejoy.

Individual Player Corsi Data via Hockey Stats

We've seen many differences between these Penguins under Mike Sullivan and how these same Penguins appeared/played under Mike Johnston, but to me, the key difference is how they play from behind, and show the resolve and resiliency to not lay down and let a 2-0 game become a 4-0 or 5-0 laugher, but claw their way back and make a game out of it.

With the Penguins afternoon game against the Washington Capitals having been postponed, the Penguins have a day off, with one game looming before the All-Star break against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Having put together some wins recently, the Penguins have made the division race much closer, and this game against New Jersey becomes even bigger.