Even with injuries to key forwards the Penguins continue to play decent hockey. Almost every player on the Penguins was above 50% possession on the night.
The above chart was created by Micah Blake McCurdy (@ineffectivemath). These charts are free at his Hockey Viz website after 2PM Atlantic time.
That isn’t to say the team isn’t missing all the things that Malkin does, Hagelin’s speed, and Sheary’s chemistry with Crosby. It is saying that this team has a deep group of forwards that are able to absorb this latest rash of injuries. That isn’t a luxury most teams have.
Carter Rowney has held his own since being called up. In the 40 minutes of game action he has a 62.5% shot attempt percentage. The Baby Penguins continue to provide players that don’t drown when being called upon.
Sidney Crosby registered an assist last night and that brings him to 998 points overall for his career. He had a number of good opportunities to score, but Chad Johnson came up with an amazing pad save and in the third period Sid rang the post short side. The team will be on the road the next two games and if I was a betting man I’d say that he will register point 1,000 on the road. He’s just too good to predict he will not have two points in two games.
One of the rarest sights in hockey is when Sidney Crosby makes a mistake and it leads directly to a goal. While trying to generate offense the puck was knocked off his stick while he was flatfooted at the blue line. It led to a breakaway goal for the Flames. Even the best can have a moment like that.
Somebody needs to remind Sidney Crosby he is one of the most talented players on the planet. I don’t want to get into the business of telling him what to do, but the five-hole shootout move is a little bit played out, at least recently. There really isn’t anything he can’t do so to see him turn into a one-note player in the shootout is strange. Since 2008-09 (when Hockey Reference started tracking) he has a success rate of 44.6% which is great. However, in the last two years he is only 2 for 11. I miss seeing him come in with the potential of throwing down a good deke. Here are some shootout moves from yesteryear
You’ll notice that there are a couple five-hole goals in that video. He definitely should not retire that move. His release is insane. I’m just suggesting he mix it up a little bit.
Regardless of my opinion (or others) on the shootout subject it doesn’t really matter come spring time. It’s just a minor complaint during a long regular season.
Chris Kunitz scored the Penguins first goal last night. He now has five points in his last five games. Of his 24 points this season only three have come on the power play. A lot of people are assuming this is his last season in Pittsburgh. They shouldn’t. He is still a decent player albeit not in the same role he as once in. His possession numbers continue to be above average and his even-strength production is comfortably at a top six level. That is the kind of depth you need.
Jake Guentzel scored goal number two for the Penguins. It was his first goal in eight games. Even with the goal drought he is still among the team leaders in 5v5 points per 60. Only Conor Sheary and Sidney Crosby are better than Guentzel’s 2.76.
Mike Sullivan got a little creative with the lines in the third period when he shortened the bench. It appeared as though he was double shifting Sidney Crosby and for a few of those shifts he was with Guentzel and Phil Kessel. Throughout Mike Sullivan’s tenure he hasn’t really loaded up on lines as often as Dan Bylsma used to. I thought that was a strength of Bylsma. Perhaps the decision was driven by the missing players in the lineup, but I’d like to see things like this be revisited even with a healthy lineup.
Matt Murray was very strong down the stretch and allowed the Penguins to forge a comeback. He stopped 32 out of the 34 shots he faced and that included a full two minutes of 4 on 3 action in overtime. There was a moment in overtime where the Flames scored, but Murray’s helmet was strategically dislodged and the goal was waved off. No Flames seemed upset about it after the game. The 8-7 Washington Capitals game took a toll on Murray’s overall stats at the time, but he has since battled back and is now the sixth best goalie in the NHL with an EVSV% of .932. In 13 regular season games last year it was .934.
Up next on the Penguins schedule the lowly Colorado Avalanche.