Saw this idea over at All About the Jersey, and it’s summer so why not dive into it? Who are the top players who stick out and bite the Penguins the most?
We chose to look at the best opponents at scoring against Pittsburgh since 12-12-2015. Why that date? It’s when Mike Sullivan was named head coach, and seemed like as good of a starting point as any.
Goals, goals, goals
Here are the players who have lit the lamp the most against the Pens lately:
T.J. Oshie has lit the Pens up the most in volume — though as a division opponent he has had a lot of chances to do so in terms of his games played. David Pastrnak, by goals/game, is the most lethal when look at per game. Oshie has feasted on the power play (his six PPG vs PIT is the most in the league in this span), which is perhaps a strategic play by Pittsburgh taking away Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin “only” has 10G in 29 games against Pittsburgh in the Sullivan era, and just three of them have been on the power play those 29 games. That’s just a 28 goal pace over a full season for Ovechkin against the Pens, where versus non-Pens teams in this time, Ovechkin has 288 total goals in 459 games (a 51-goal pace over a full season).
There are some pesky names towards the bottom, who knew Gustav Nyquist was that much of a problem? Also the Pens must be happy to see Frank Vatrano sign a three-year deal out in Anaheim, he’s stung them a lot over the years.
The only surprise to see Jordan Eberle appear on this list is that he might be so low. Add in the playoff totals and he would get six more (in just 10 games) to his total. Then again, Oshie also has 8G in 19 playoff games in the Sullivan era, the most among any Penguin playoff opponent.
One surprising name is Voracek. Not because he isn’t a good player, but he’s not much of a prolific goal scorer these days. Against non-Pittsburgh opponents, Voracek only has 84 goals in 455 goals in this time period (just a 15 goal pace over a full 82 game season). That pace more than doubles to a 34-goal-per-season pace when he lines up against the Pens (13G in 31 contests).
Penguin Opponent Point Getters
When it comes to total points, here are the names that get read by the public address announcers the most after a goal against the Pens.
Nicklas Backstrom and Claude Giroux have piled up the most assists against the Pens lately, and they sort out at the top of the points totals as well. A lot of damage has come on the power play, where they have nine and eight PPA, respectively.
As perhaps good news for Pittsburgh, Backstrom is out indefinitely and possibly permanently (or all but so) after a major hip surgery. Giroux has signed this summer with Ottawa, and he will only play the Pens three times a season moving forward.
John Carlson has used his 11 PPP (tied with Backstrom for the most) to strike on the Penguins, with the tie in above for an Oshie power play goal often assisted by the perimeter passing game of Carlson and Backstrom to score.
Down the list, a sneaky Penguin-killer is the now retired Travis Zajac who only scored 167 points in 366 games against non-Pittsburgh teams (a 37-point per full season pace) but elevated his game to put up nearly a point/game against the Pens in the Sullivan-era in a fairly large 22 game sample.
Most of the counting stat totals have naturally been racked up by top players on division rivals who get the opportunity to play Pittsburgh the most. Here is a look at the top players (minimum four games) who have done damage on a per game basis.
Pittsburgh has struggled mightily against Chicago in the Sullivan days, and a lot of that can be chalked up to the scoring done by Patrick Kane. It’s no shock to see Western stars like Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid also show up here, and the Pens are definitely fortunate to only see those guys twice a season.
Vancouver’s Brock Boeser with 7G in just eight games stands out as that type of performance as well, and a young gun like Drake Batherson is standing out as well in a brief sample but putting up a ton of points.