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Breaking down the Numbers: Penguins vs. Blue Jackets

The Penguins traveled to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets and continued their inconsistent, yet very consistent pace of winning one game, followed by losing one game. Tonight was no different, but one of the good variety.

Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

Columbus is a joke. That's the main point here. A lineup top-heavy with overpaid veterans who aren't that good, so they play this rough and tumble style that's really dumb.

Lines and Pairings



A win is a win. It was a shitty kind of game, with all the unnecessary interference and physicality, but at this point in the season, with where the standings are, we don't really have the wiggle room to complain about style points.

Resiliency. The Penguins are resilient again? Yes. After a good start, but unable to finish, and giving up a vintage Penguins-Blue Jackets goal against, to Gregory Campbell, of all people, the Pens responded well. They went ahead 2-1, and responded again when it was 2-2 to take the lead and hold onto it.

Bryan Rust. The kid has a motor that doesn't stop. Some clown from the Blue Jackets ran him into Bobrovsky and then tried to make him look like the bad guy, and Rust didn't back down and tried to give the business to Scott Hartnell.

Chris Kunitz's attempt to shoot right-handed. Very cool little thing for Bob Errey to pick up on from the Pens broadcast, pointing out how the left-handed Kunitz quickly flipped his grip around and tried to use the angle he was in to shoot right handed, instead of going to the backhand.

350. Congratulations to Marc-Andre Fleury for his 350th career win. Doesn't feel like it's been that many, really.

Justin Schultz. First, can everyone put on their flame retardant suits before I dish what will surely be viewed as a hot take? Ready? Okay.

Justin Schultz has been very good since he entered the lineup for the Penguins. He has yet to show a reason to be taken out of the lineup, and is confirming what many smart people around the hockey internet world said, that Schultz would be a good fit for the Penguins in a depth/third-pairing role. He looks comfortable, like a player who is just doing the things he knows how to do and is good at, without the weight of an entire city and mouth-breathing media fest in Edmonton, wanting him to be a #1 shut-down defenseman, something he isn't, never was going to be, and never will be. And that's okay. He seems to fit almost perfectly in that 3rd-pairing role for Pittsburgh, plus getting some time on the PP2 unit. Much has been and will be said about his place in the lineup over Derrick Pouliot, which deserves a bit of criticism, but in my opinion, it's as simple as this: the Penguins traded a 3rd-round pick for Schultz, and they are going to play him for that reason.


Eugene. Evgeni Malkin missed the 2nd and 3rd period after taking a hit to the hand/wrist/arm/shoulder/something. He appeared to be in some pain. He played one more shift but then no more. Fingers crossed that this is a short-term injury.\

The officiating. A LOT left to be desired from it last night. At least 3 or 4 instances of clear interference and hitting guys without the puck, and nothing called at all.  I guess we may as well just call them the Columbus Piss Babies instead of the Blue Jackets. Seriously, here's a little reel of the nonsense from last night:

(stick tap to Jim from The Pens Nation for grabbing/linking these)

Nonsense from David SavardDalton Prout is trash. Luckily Brian Dumoulin was okay, let's hope he's feeling alright this morning too.



not so fast, Regis.


Blue Jackets Penguins
Goals 2 (Campbell, Atkinson) 3 (Letang, Kunitz, Hagelin)
Shots on Goal 27 31
5v5 Corsi For Percentage 40.9% 59.1%


I am honestly starting to run out of superlatives to use when describing what Mike Sullivan has done for the Penguins in terms of his system and style of play that have the Penguins out-shooting nearly every opponent they play. Very few bad games in terms of shot attempts under his direction, and some of the games they were outshot were score-effects laden wins.

Pens did a good job weathering the little storm in the first that Columbus came out with after taking the lead, and then Pittsburgh never looked back.

Even Strength Shot Attempts

The one takeaway I see from this is on the defensive side of things for the Penguins. Seven of the Columbus shot attempts from inside the home-plate area. That probably annoys the shit out of John Tortorella, so I am all for it. Offensively, the Pens did a good job of getting shots through against Columbus without too many blocked shots, so that probably irritates the shit out of John Tortorella as well.

Power Play Shot Attempts

Nice to see Kris Letang get a goal on the PP, especially when you consider the timing of it, with the Penguins getting the man-advantage from the Blue Jackets trying to be physical idiots and taking a penalty. Scoring a goal will always be the best way to answer and respond.

Shot attempt charts provided by War on Ice.

Expected Goals

The Penguins did a good job of keeping Columbus from too many quality chances and good looks at the net, often forcing them to shots from the outside and lower quality shots.

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

Good night for almost all of 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

Pittsburgh good, Columbus bad. /pounds gavel.

Individual Shot Attempts Charts via War on Ice

If Bryan Rust had *just* a little bit of finishing skills, his game could be a very fantastic asset. Nonetheless, he's been a shot in the arm for the depth of this team, and a massive upgrade from some of the depth players we've seen over the years.

Ice-time vs. Possession Charts via Sean Tierney

Line-by-Line Shot Attempts

Good night for the Penguins. When your only sub-50% forwards are your 4C and a guy who just returned from injury after missing 17 games, you did a lot of things right.

This is good. Very good.

Line-by-line data via Hockey Stats

A rare Saturday off for the Penguins today, followed up by a Sunday matinee against the New York Rangers, and potentially the net-flipping Henrik Lundqvist if he returns from whatever injury he has.