It is no secret that the Penguins have ramped up their game recently, having won nine of their last ten games, and getting some stellar goaltending from Matt Murray since his return from injury.
During these hot (and cold) streaks, it’s natural to wonder how long these trends can continue. What is driving the play for the Penguins? Is luck a factor?
With data aggregated by Sean Tierney, we can try and answer some of those questions.
In five game average samples, the Penguins possession metrics have dwindled and fallen on the wrong side of the ice. Not a great trend, but it’s not exactly a black hole at the moment, so it may be something to keep an eye on, but not anything tragic. The past month’s performance sloping down is quite telling though, what once was flirting with a top-10 team in the league and 50%+ Corsi team is now fallen to 17th.
The Penguins shot rates appear to mimic those of the Corsi differentials. Kind of the same story there with a big fall since about the middle of December, which coincidence or not is right around the time Matt Murray returned and the shot rate tanked.
Looking at shots against, the Penguins are starting to allow more shots than they previously had been. That’s never a good thing, but with the way Murray is playing right now, he appears dialed in to be capable of stopping practically everything.
Now, the luck factor. The Penguins are currently riding the highest PDO bender in the league. Much of this can likely be attributed to Matt Murray’s absurd save percentage. Surely this bubble will break at some point and regress back to average. Whether that comes first in the form of goaltending or shooting, I guess we will just have to wait and see. The Pens shooters have reliably been in the 9-10% range at 5v5 all season, which is a welcome bounce-back from last year when Sidney Crosby was in the 3-5% range and being snake bit at times.
Murray has been almost flawless since returning from injury:
All in all, I wouldn't suggest per se that there are “warning signs,” but simply something worth keeping an eye on to see which direction these trends keep moving in.