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Established in 2006 as a Community of Reality

Welcome to the Neno's Place!

Neno's Place Established in 2006 as a Community of Reality


Neno

I can be reached by phone or text 8am-7pm cst 972-768-9772 or, once joining the board I can be reached by a (PM) Private Message.

Established in 2006 as a Community of Reality

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Established in 2006 as a Community of Reality

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    Pittsburgh Penguins

    jedi17
    jedi17
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      Pittsburgh Penguins  Empty Pittsburgh Penguins

    Post by jedi17 Wed 12 Apr 2017, 1:00 pm


    Pittsburgh still has enough firepower to advance
    April 12, 2017, 11:24 AM ET [13 Comments]
    Ryan Wilson
    Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSS • Archive • CONTACT
    The Pittsburgh Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Tonight they will embark on their quest to become the first team in the salary cap era to repeat as champion. Like any team they have had ups and downs throughout the regular season. The team navigated most of what came their way successfully.

    Their first round opponent will be the Columbus Blue Jackets. I said it in 2014 and I will say it again: Columbus has great potential as a hockey city and could develop as one of the Penguins better natural rivals. The next week or so will write the next chapter on that front.

    So how does this series look? Here is a graphic that was created by Dom Luszczyszyn and was featured in a preview piece written by Matt Larkin of The Hockey News.




    source: imgur.com

    This is a nice easy to digest format which is why I decided to borrow it. Good work deserves to be shared. Many of the statistical models I have seen have the Pittsburgh Penguins as the favorite in this series even with the absence of Kris Letang. That isn’t to say Columbus doesn’t do certain things better than Pittsburgh. It just means that those things aren’t likely to cancel out what Pittsburgh does well, which is create offense.

    Normally when I try to take the pulse of teams heading into the playoffs I would use rolling averages to see where a team is trending. Pittsburgh is unique case entering the playoffs. Using the rolling averages method in evaluating Pittsburgh this year is probably going to lead to a lot of misinformation. Their injuries were so frequent and severe that any data leading up to the playoffs would be skewed by the sheer number of players who won’t be given a uniform in this series. It wasn’t a matter of just a few guys missing a couple games here and there. The team had some significant players out of the lineup for an extended sample and some of those players have returned or will return in this series. The biggest name is obviously Evgeni Malkin, but this also includes Olli Maatta, Trevor Daley, and likely Carl Hagelin (who is skating) at some point.

    Due to the injury dynamic my analysis is going to shift focus to rate stats. This would only take into consideration the time that the players were actually on the ice. Here’s a look at offensive production by forwards this year when compared to last year.

    source: imgur.com

    We have some good and some bad. This year the Penguins best players were even better, but some of the depth options dipped. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel are all playing at a high level. They are not a concern. The H and the B of the HBK line have seen a tremendous drop from production levels last year. The team is more top heavy as a result. I don’t believe this is a huge issue for the Columbus series, but things like that have the potential to hurt more if the opponent was a team like the Washington Capitals. The Penguins will cross that bridge if they are fortunate enough to get out of round one.

    Phil Kessel suffered through an extended goal drought at the end of the year. I believe that the quality of teammate played a huge factor in that drought. That issue is being put to rest tonight. Here are the probable lines

    Sheary-Crosby-Guentzel
    Rust-Malkin-Kessel
    Wilson-Bonino-Hornqvist
    Kuhnhackl-Cullen-Rowney

    The Penguins top six is better than what Columbus can throw out there. The Blue Jackets will more than likely use Brandon Dubinsky against the Crosby line. Matt from Buckeye State Hockey did a nice write-up on this personal matchup. The conclusions probably aren't what you think.




    Dubinsky actually has the shot attempt advantage in this duel, but it hasn't translated into an advantage on the goal front. The reason is instead of suppressing Sidney Crosby this matchup has actually led to high event hockey. Given that Sidney Crosby is way better offensively than Dubinsky the likelihood of Sid generating offense is better than Dubinsky's. That style of play is great news for the Sheary-Crosby-Guentzel line. They'll play high event hockey all day long. Even if Dubinsky plays great and shuts Crosby down the other two wingers on that line have shown they can carry it themselves. This is a Crosby line unlike any of the other incarnations over the years that Dubinsky has faced. I don't see a matchup that the 43-87-59 line loses.

    Evgeni Malkin hasn’t played in forever. For most players that would be a concern, but this was the case last year heading into the playoffs and Malkin was a beast from the get go against the Rangers. He had seven points in only four games after a one-month layoff. Malkin last played on March 15th. Geno is Geno. Good luck shutting him down.

    Offensively the Penguins have the advantage because of Sid and Geno. Defensively the Blue Jackets have the higher end players in this series with the absence of Kris Letang. Here's a cool look at the comparisons created by Travis Yost of TSN




    With Letang the Penguins could concoct a pairing that is on part with the Werenski-Jones pairing that Columbus has. Without Letang the Penguins don't have a single pairing that will be as good as that one. Columbus' duo played over 1,000 minutes together this year and the team was way better for it.

    source: imgur.com

    John Tortorella should be looking to ride this pairing as much as he can. It's a lot to ask, but asking the other pairings to neutralize Crosby and Malkin probably isn't going to work.

    Justin Schultz cannot make up for the loss of Letang, but his performance in 2016-17 makes that loss more palatable. If he didn't step up and perform like he has this season I'm not sure the Penguins would have been able to overcome 58's injury. Schultz ranked 6th overall in the NHL among defenseman with an all situations points per 60 of 1.92.

    With Pittsburgh's back end lacking dynamic players the key to success will have to be getting the forwards the puck quickly and letting them do the heavy lifting. The team may also lean heavily on the forwards to provide forechecking pressure to take some of the responsibliity off the defensemen. It's a strategy that could work in round one because it is one that has worked against Columbus this season. Jesse Marshall from The Pensblog did a nice job of detailing this dynamic in this post




    Last but certainly not least we have the goaltenders. This is an area where Columbus has an advantage no matter which goaltender plays for Pittsburgh. Sergei Bobrovsky is the top candidate to take home this year's Vezina Trophy and he will probably get a good number of Hart Trophy votes as well. He was amazing this year. His even-strength save percentage of 93.9 trailed only Craig Anderson's 94.0. His high danger save percentage of 86.3 was third best in the league. The guy has flat out performed this year.

    Matt Murray is no slouch himself. His even-strength save percentage was 93.4 and his high danger save percentage was 83.2. Both figures were good enough to be in the top 10 among all goaltenders who played 1,000 or more minutes.

    Goaltending should not be a liability for either team.

    Pittsburgh has the higher end forwards with a mediocre defense grouping while Columbus can't match Pittsburgh's offense, but has a legit top pairing. Ultimately, I believe the Pittsburgh forwards strength will be enough to overcome any shortcomings against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Columbus' strategy to mitigate the talent gap is going to be playing physical. The Blue Jacket players are going to try and annoy and pester the Penguins before, during, and after the whistles. If Pittsburgh can find the maturity to ignore those advances I don't see Columbus winning this series.

    I have the Penguins moving on to the second round where they could potentially face the WAshington Capitals in a rematch from last year's highly entertaining series.

    Here are my picks for the entire postseason

    source: imgur.com

    Enjoy the games.

      Current date/time is Mon 15 Apr 2024, 2:44 pm