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the Underlying Numbers: Penguins vs. Islanders

The Penguins and the New York Islanders squared off for the first time in the 2015-16 season. Spoiler: it went very well for Pittsburgh

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Penguins soundly beat the Islanders. For the first time that I can recall since the 2013 playoff series between the two, the Penguins were able to beat the Islanders with their speed and not lose the transition game at center ice and in the neutral zone on a regular basis. Those two things were always a catalyst for the Islanders against Pittsburgh, and terribly frustrating. But last night was the polar opposite. The Penguins came out flying in the first period and never looked back.

The Penguins offense has come to life, in terms of goal scoring, under Mike Sullivan.

Five goals in three of the Penguins last six games, while Mike Johnston's Penguins scored five goals once in 28 games this season. And it's not just the whole team in general either. The differences in production for Crosby between the two coaches is hilarious:

Anyways, onto last night's game:

Lines and Pairings

Highlights

Positives

Sidney Crosby looks like Sidney Crosby. Two goals, both on the power play. Could have had three. Net-front Crosby will always kill it on the PP.

Matt Cullen's old ass. He's what, 39 years old and looks like he's playing his best hockey? An assist, a shorthanded goal of his own, and playing time on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

Special teams production. Two power play goals, one shorthanded goal, only one shot on goal allowed for the Islanders power play.

Marc-Andre Fleury is back. He looked like himself, which is a fantastic and much needed thing. He kept the team afloat while their offensive woes were rampant, let's hope he can stay fully recovered from his concussion and that the Penguins, who seem to have solved their scoring woes can give him the goal support that was lacking in the first 25 or so games of the season.

Matt Martin is a pissbaby still. He got all steamed off when Sergei Plotnikov hit someone hard, and then was running around like an idiot trying to pick a fight with him. No one would, so he boarded Trevor Daley from behind and took a penalty, and the Penguins scored on the power play. Congratulations, jackass.

Thomas Greiss is a pissbaby, too. Was it loud enough for you last night? Sucks to suck.

Negatives

I've got nothing. Honestly. A 20-shots-on-goal first period, scoring goals from both special teams units, a 5-0 lead before score effects taking over. Nothing bad to write home about on this one.

Stats

Islanders Penguins
Goals 2 (Tavares, Leddy) 5 (Kessel, Crosby, Crosby, Cullen, Hornqvist)
Shots on Goal 40 43
5v5 Corsi For Percentage 58.6% 41.4%

Analytics

Score effects took over in the third period, and even earlier in the game when shot attempts were about even, the Penguins had locked down defensively in front of the crease, and were forcing everything to the outside.

The 5v5 Corsi numbers from this game are skewed significantly, primarily due to the fact that the Penguins had three special teams goals (two power play, one shorthanded), which gave them their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th goals. At this point, score effects started to take over for the Islanders and the lead that the Penguins obtained at 5v4 and 4v5 was chipped away at with all the 5v5 shot attempts from New York.

Even Strength Shot Attempts

Interesting to note: the Islanders had twenty more shot attempts than the Penguins, but only six more shots on goal. The Penguins blocked a significant number of shots from the Islanders, and seemed to do a better job of getting their shot attempts on net.

Power Play Shot Attempts

Log off, Islanders. Hahaha. Seriously though, that's what this power play unit for Pittsburgh should always look like, when you have the talent out there that they do.

Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

Expected Goals

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

More of the same, in terms of score effects dictating shot attempt numbers.

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

Same story as the shot attempt chart, hard to get anything of value out of it when the last 25-30 minutes of the game were taken over by score effects from a 5-goal Pittsburgh lead.

Individual Shot Attempts Charts via War on Ice

Line-by-Line Shot Attempts

/shrug. Again, I don't put a ton of stock into shot attempt numbers that are extremely heavily skewed when they came as a result of trailing 5-0 and the Penguins getting 3 special teams goals. If the Penguins were bleeding shot attempts like this every game, it would be a talking point, but the 5-0 lead has made this 'dominant' shot attempts game for the Islanders an anomaly.

Individual Player Corsi Data via Hockey Stats

Since starting out his coaching tenure for the Penguins with four straight losses, Mike Sullivan has now led the Penguins to four wins in their last six games, with a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs, giving them a 4-4-1 record since taking over. But the big difference for me has been their watchability.

Co-sign all of this, 100%

Up next for the Penguins is a home-and-home, back-to-back, with Rob Scuderi and the Chicago Blackhawks. Fun will be had by all, I am sure.