April 20, 2017, 1:25 PM ET [189 Comments]
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The Pittsburgh Penguins were unable to close out the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. They get their next opportunity tonight at home for Game 5. Scoring hasn't been a problem for the Penguins. Keeping the Blue Jackets off of the scoreboard has been the last few games.
Don't look for any changes in the Penguins lineup. They will continue to use what has gotten them a 3-1 lead in the standings. Columbus will be sticking with the same lineup that earned them a victory in Game 4.
Mike Sullivan had this to say about his Maatta-Daley pairing
The larger sample from the regular season has plenty of evidence to debunk what he is saying, but they have shown small improvements from that sample in the four playoff games together.
In the regular season the Maatta-Daley pairing had a woeful shot attempt percentage of 46.06%. It is up to 47.37 in the playoffs. Mild upgrade, still living in their own end.
Brian Dumoulin has been hit the hardest with the current lineup choices. His partnership with Ron Hainsey is getting buried so far. As a pairing they are only at 44.85% against Columbus. That is terrible. It deserves scrutiny and consideration to be changed. You can't have Brian Dumoulin going sub 45% out there. He's better than that.
The trusty Cole-Schultz pairing is exactly at 50% so far against Columbus which is in line with their 50.8% number from the regular season.
Normally you don't want to break up the pairing that is performing the best, but how long can you continue to evenly distribute the defense minutes with one of the pairings getting beat down to the tune of 44.85%? I think the ceiling of a Dumoulin-Schultz pairing is a lot higher than Cole-Schultz and I don't think you'll see much worse than 44.85% with whatever pairing you create from Cole, Hainsey, and/or Streit.
In the 236 minutes together in the regular season Dumoulin-Schultz had a CF% of 52.12 and led all defensive pairings with a CF/60 of 58.17. That includes pairings with Kris Letang.
Food for thought at least.
Columbus switched up their forward matchups against the Penguins on Tuesday night. It wasn't Brandon Dubinsky who matched up with Sidney Crosby it was William Karlsson. Dubinsky was shifted to the Malkin line.
Did it work?
Some would point to Sidney Crosby's plus/minus of -3 on the night and say it did. However, the majority of people know that plus/minus doesn't teach us or tell us anything. It's a good thing we have hard working people to provide us with better information.
Crosby and Guentzel had low turnover rates as compared to the rest of the team, at .17 and .21 respectively. Guentzel also had the 3rd highest passing accuray% at 85.7%. Sheary’s turnover rate was .42 (4.2 turnovers per 10 possessions). Now this is extremely high, but Sheary makes up for it with well above average Offensive and Defensive Rebound%’s.
The chart below shows each players passes completed per possession by zone. The Crosby-Sheary-Guentzel line had some success in the offensive zone. Crosby completed an Offensive zone pass on almost 40% of his individual possessions. The team average for this game was .17 (1.7 out of every 10 individual possessions).
Crosby had a shot attempt assist on 22% of his individual possessions, which is ~3 times higher than the league average. Guentzel’s shot attempts per possession(.21) were ~2 times the league average.
But hey, plus/minus!
Sid did just fine.
Marc-Andre Fleury has had two clunkers in a row and that probably means he's due for a bounce back in Game 5. I'm really not a fan of home/away splits, but for whatever reason Fleury is way better at home than on the road this year. Here are his regular season numbers.
Here are the playoff numbers
How much longer can Sergei Bobrovsky play terrible? His work thus far in the playoffs has been unacceptable given his pedigree. Pittsburgh has not wiped the floor with Columbus this series and you could argue that Bobrovsky is the biggest reason that Columbus is losing the series. His .904 save percentage at even-strength and his .724 high-danger save percentage is remarkably low when compared to his regular season numbers (.939/.864). If the real Bob shows up it might not matter how well the Penguins play.
Toronto and Washington are tied up in their series and it will go at least six games. The longer that goes the better.