One statistical area standing out with the Pittsburgh Penguins this season is their road record. In the first 25 road games of 2022-23 that the Pens have competed in, they’ve won just 10 of them, with a 10-10-5 record overall.
This information is pertinent in the days ahead - not only is the team about to trek out for a four-game road trip, including a California swing that hasn’t been kind to them in recent years - eight of the Pens’ next 12 games come on the road.
Simply looking at the home/road splits is a big reason the Penguins find themselves fourth in points percentage in the division. The Pens are seven points behind the New York Rangers, and whaddya know the Rangers have acquired exactly seven more points on the road (14-5-4 for 32 points) than Pittsburgh’s 25 points.
Similarly, the Pens are 11 points back behind the New Jersey Devils right now. This is mostly due to the fact that NJD has the best road record in the NHL so far this season and has taken away 15 more points than Pittsburgh has on the road with a sterling 19-3-2 record that’s yielded them 40 points.
On the positive side, per their usual trends, the Penguins have been extremely successful in the friendly confines of PPG Paints Arena. Pittsburgh’s 15-6-4 home record makes for a full-season pace of 111 points at home. On the road, 10-10-5 is an even .500 in Gary Bettman math and sits only a pace of 82 points.
On a case-by-case basis, here is how have performances varied for home or road games for individuals.
While almost all key players experience a boost at home, or struggle a bit on the road, there are a few that we put in bold to really stand out. Bryan Rust’s points/game on the road craters and he only has three goals on the road. Kasperi Kapanen scored in the outdoor game, but only has two road goals in the last calendar year (in 37 games, counting the playoffs). Brian Dumoulin’s plus/minus split of +6 at home to -11 on the road with minimal points also sticks on. Even then, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are down on the road across the board, and the assist numbers for Jake Guentzel and Jason Zucker fall off noticeably as well.
On the plus side, a few players at the bottom of the lineup have out-performed home numbers on the road. The biggest example of this is Brock McGinn and his eight road goals this season, which is tied for the second most on the whole team. Then again, McGinn is also riding a career-long 16 game point-less streak and not in good form. Other lower line players like Ryan Poehling, Marcus Pettersson and Josh Archibald have also slightly been better at producing points in away games.
Overall as a team, everything has been a little better at home for the Pens across the board. They score more, the power play and penalty kills are better, the goalies make more saves and the team gets ahead early instead of falling behind. All great things.
The upcoming four-game trip makes for a wonderful opportunity for the Penguins to start to right the ship on the road. The Pens begin in Anaheim tomorrow, who are not a very good team. Then they head across the way to face Los Angeles, who are a strong team and do have a good record at their home. The California trip ends in San Jose, who only have NHL-low five home victories. Of course, those Sharks also knocked off the Penguins in Pittsburgh before the All-Star break (and it took OT not too long earlier at home to beat the Ducks), so no game in this league can be counted on as a victory before it starts.
Even though the competition is favorable, there are always potential downsides in the mix as well. Traveling across country and changing three time zones is never an easy adjustment, plus Pittsburgh has three-games-in-four-days to also complicate the matter. The biggest factor of all might be the unknown status of starting goalie Tristan Jarry for the immediate future unknown as he works his way back from injury.
Despite some of those challenges, the Penguins need to get it in gear and start achieving better results on the road. They’re about to get a lot of practice with it and picking it up in that area will be a key factor in how the stretch run plays out.