Well, the Penguins’ offense did not show much…yet again…tonight, but the Penguins were able to hold on to the Predator’s surge in the 3rd period, and won the game in overtime 2-1.
The Penguins were out shot pretty badly in this game. The Predators peppered Marc-Andre Fleury with 39 shots, while the Penguins threw 25 at Pekka Rinne. The shots were reasonably even after 2, but the Predators entered the 3rd period down 1-0, and out shot the Penguins 17 to 5 in the final frame.
Also note that the Penguins improved to 4-0 when scoring the first goal. In addition, the Penguins have NEVER been trailing in any of those 4 games. The exact opposite can be said about the other 4 games.
As always, I’ll give a quick recap of the game followed by my impressions from tonight, which includes some crazy statistical evidence calculated by yours truly. The recap will just include the goals, because I have a lot to talk about later on. Here we go:
After 1 period of play, Pens 0 Predators 0
With just about 5 minutes left in the 2nd, the Predators were on a power play and had a ton of momentum. The Penguins shut it down. Just after the guilty party, Malkin, was released from the box, Matt Cullen made a terrific poke check that allowed Malkin to pick up the puck. This turned into a 3 on 2 for the Pens. Malkin carried the puck into the zone, and dropped it off to Kunitz who fired an absolute LAZER thin mints on Pekka Rinne. Nice to see Kunitz back on the scoresheet. Hopefully this continues. Pens 1 Predators 0
After 2 periods of play: Pens 1 Predators 0
With just over 10 minutes to go in the game, the Predators had the puck in the Penguins zone. There was a post hit and a number of crazy saves by Fleury. This continued on for 2 minutes with no whistles. Literally.
The puck finally came out to center, but the Penguins took a penalty, so the Predators were playing 6 on 5. Mike Ribeiro fed a pass to the slot to none other than James Neal. His first shot was stopped, but he went thin mints on the rebound and tied the game at 1. Pens 1 Predators 1.
I was very surprised that Johnston did not challenge this goal. It appeared as though Jackman may have prevented Fleury from making a save on the second attempt, which would have nixed the goal. Even with his timeout available, he did not challenge the goal and the call stood.
After 3 periods of play: Pens 1 Predators 1
It’s funny how Bob Errey actually made a comment before overtime, and he said something along the lines of “this overtime could end in 30 seconds.” Well, it took 41 seconds, and it was all thanks for Phil Kessel. Kessel had the puck in the offensive zone, skated it out to center ice, used his speed to fly past some Predators, shot a puck on a created 2 on 1, and knocked in the rebound to give the Penguins the win. Pens 2 Predators 1
Final Score OT: Penguins 2 Pedators 1
So…Where the Heck is the Power Play?
8 games into the season, the Penguins power play is clicking at 7.1% which is currently 27th in the NHL. Last year, under Johnston, the Penguins finished 10th in the NHL with a power play that was clicking at 19.3%. Although that does not sound terrible at all, it is notable that the power play was clicking at some outrageous 40% through the first 20ish games.
Excluding that red hot start to the power play last year, it really has not done anything significant under Johnston. At all. Here is what baffles me: if you told me to pick 10 players in the entire NHL to create 2 “all-star” power play units, I would easily pick Crosby and Malkin, and even debate picking Kessel and/or Letang.
So…why does this power play stink? Is it Tocchet? Johnston? The players? Some combination of the 3? I’m really not sure. But I will say this: under the final 3 years of Dan Bylsma, the Penguins ranked 5th, 2nd, and 1st in the NHL on the power play with percentages of 19.7%, 24.7%, and 23.4% respectively. Also, this was arguably with far less offensive fire power than the Penguins have this year.
All I know is that 7.1% is not good enough.
Sprong Needs More Ice Time
This one is going to be quick: Daniel Sprong, one of your most gifted offensive forwards, had 2 shifts in the 3rd period, skated on the 3rd line, and logged less than 10 minutes of ice time tonight.
Johnston, what are you thinking?! I sure don’t know…
Thank you, Marc-Andre Fleury, for single-handedly winning this game for the Penguins. He’s not gonna keep this up forever, so hopefully the offense decides to start scoring…
I could not help myself with researching this topic.
The Penguins are 4th in shots per game, and 29th in goals for per game. So I thought to myself, “Wow, this team’s shooting percentage must be terrible.”
The Penguins currently rank 29th in the NHL in shooting percentage, with 4.985% of their shots finding the back of the net. The only team lower than the Penguins is Anaheim, who is only scoring on 3.106% of their shots.
After looking at those shooting percentages, keep in mind that the NHL average is 8.895%, and the first place team in this category, the Washington Capitals (who will be facing off against the Penguins on Wednesday) are scoring on 13.997% of their shots.
So, how important is shooting percentage?
Here is where the stats come into play.
As of right now, the bottom 15 teams in shooting percentage (which accounts for one half of NHL teams) are averaging .41 wins per game and .91 points (points = 2*number of wins + 1*number of OT/SO losses) per game. Mathematically speaking, these bottom 15 teams, on average, would be on pace for 34 wins and 75 point seasons. Ouch…
Come to think of it…
How the heck are the Penguins 4-4?! They are at a .5 wins per game and a 1 point per game clip, which is significantly higher than the average of the bottom 15 teams…And the Penguins are 2nd to last in shooting percentage!! It’s almost a miracle that their record is not worse than 4-4.
On the other side of things, the top 15 NHL teams in shooting percentage are averaging .6 wins per game and 1.3 points per game. These teams, on average, are on pace for 49 wins and 107 point seasons.
See the difference? If not, put on some glasses and try again.
All of this being said, I guess a win is a win. BUT, clearly, something is wrong. Something is seriously wrong.
One fact I will point out is that Johnston has no NHL coaching experience. I like his overall thought process and I believe he has hockey smarts, BUT could his lack of success be a lack of experience? Who knows…
Remember to follow me on twitter (@FranjiPensPress) and like me on Facebook (Franjione Pens Press). Also, remember that I am doing a Q and A on Tuesday, so start submitting your questions! On Twitter, use #FranjiPensPress and your question, and on Facebook comment on one of my posts that discusses Q and A. I will be answering every question I get!
Next game is Wednesday against Ovi and the Caps. The Pens are gonna need at least 3 goals to win that one, because Washington’s offense is clicking on all cylinders, just like the Penguins’ should be. So, keeping in mind the Penguins’ shooting percentage, the Penguins only need about 60 shots to score 3 goals…