Since last Advanced Stats Sunday, the Pens have gone on a four game winning streak. In last week’s post I said, ” I believe we’ll see some good hockey this week. Expect some wins, and some big games from the two-headed monster. They’re mathematically due for it.” Well, at least part of this statement came true. The Pens certainly got some wins, and now have a seven point lead in the
Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division. As for the two-headed monster, Sid notched another five points. Hardly his pace at the beginning of the season, but it would have been hard to believe he could keep that up. He still had a solid week. Geno couldn’t buy a goal this week, but had three assists. Anyone who watched the games this past week, though, would tell you that Geno’s playing great hockey right now. He’s been the best player on the ice multiple times this past week, but luck has not been on his side. This week I’m going to keep discussing the progression of the two-headed monster, PDO, and some miscellaneous stats regarding zone starts, save percentage, and penalties.
In the opinion of many fans, each head of the two-headed monster is moving in different directions. On one hand, Sidney Crosby is putting up a league-leading 22 points, scoring at nearly a 1.5 PPG pace. On the other hand, Evgeni Malkin has 13 points; under a point per game. If you’ve watched Malkin play this past week, it’s quite obvious luck hasn’t been on his side. Crossbars and posts have gotten the better of him, but there have been multiple games in which he has looked dominant. Advanced stats wise, both players are set to keep (or in Malkin’s case, start) producing.
Sidney Crosby currently has a PDO of 977. Since the baseline is 1000 we can expect even more offensive production from him. Last Sunday Sid checked in with a PDO of 1001. Even though he still managed to produce this past week, his PDO has decreased, mostly due to a drop in his on-ice save percentage which is down from 898 to 870 this week. However, a decrease in PDO isn’t a bad thing. Since Sid is below the standard PDO of 1000 we can expect his production to increase. He ended last season with a PDO of 1034 and has yet to reach that mark this year. Yet he’s still leading the league in points. We could see Sid really break out in the two games this week.
While having less points that Crosby, Malkin has a higher PDO, with that of 988, which is up from 954 last week. Opposite of Sid, Geno’s PDO has increased due to an increased on ice save percentage, which increased from 882 to 907 over the past week. It’s only a matter of time until Geno starts putting up numbers. He looked dominant at several points over this past week, and according to his PDO his play should continue to improve. Thankfully, the Pens have received plenty of secondary scoring this week, something that was a concern through the first couple weeks of the season. The Pens are playing in what is by far the weakest division in hockey, but nonetheless they have looked dominant in all but a few games. They’ve managed to win games even when their stars haven’t scored. See last night in Columbus as a prime example. If Geno starts producing like his normal self, and the Pens are able to get Neal and Bennett back in the lineup, we could be in for a real treat of hockey.
Last week the Penguins had an average PDO of 987.21, and I said based on that we could expect to see some good hockey this past week. We certainly did. Now the Pens are at a team PDO of 993.54, still below the baseline of 1000. So what does this mean for this upcoming week? Unlike the past two weeks, where I predicted the losing and winning streaks, this middle-of-the-road PDO doesn’t lead to a firm conclusion. The Pens have two games this week, Wednesday against the Rangers and Saturday against St. Louis. We could see the Pens take both of these games, but the most realistic choice may be for them to split.
Since the PDO of the team as a whole doesn’t provide us with many answers this week, we can look at the PDOs of some individuals to see who should theoretically improve and who should decline this week. On the rise are Jokinen, Malkin, Martin, Crosby, Engelland, and Letang. We can also expect to see Megna and D’Agostini’s (if he plays) game increase. However, since they both have played a small amount of games, we hardly have a large enough sample size on which to base predictions. They could be wild cards. On the other end of the spectrum, some players’ games should decline in theory. Those that fall in this category are Niskanen, Kunitz, Glass, Adams, and Vitale. This is a logical list, as the fourth line has been very productive as of late, but as in most scenarios, a team cannot always rely on its fourth line to be productive for long periods of time. Thankfully for the Pens, the players that are due for a decline are matched by players who should be on the rise. Therefore, everything should remain status quo for the Penguins, and the status quo is winning hockey games.
As there’s nothing new in the Corsi and Fenwick department (big shocker, Kunitz is still the leader) I wanted to do something different with this post. However, there’s not a big standout in any one particular category this week, but what I did find was some interesting stats across the board. Enjoy this randomness that is #FancyStats.
The talk of this past week has been Jayson Megna. I was a big fan of this kid in Wilkes-Barre (he already has two game-winning goals for them this season) and he continues to impress me at the NHL level. While he deserves all the hype he’s been getting and I do believe the kid is legit, we should probably step back and slow down before we rush to images of grandeur. I’m not trying to take anything away from Megna’s accomplishments, but the fact is that he is starting 78.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone, more than anyone else on the team. It’s no wonder he’s gotten on the score sheet. Now I know his first goal originated off a face-off in the neutral zone, but he has seemed to be getting unlimited chances in front of the net. While he is great at going to the net, something that is badly needed on this team, a lot of that stems from his offensive zone start percentage. I do think Megna is going to be up here for a while, and I think he’s a great fit, but eventually that zone start percentage number will decrease, and with it the number of chances he gets around the net will also decrease. This isn’t necessarily his fault, just don’t panic if he’s not scoring every or every other night.
I also wanted to give a shout out to Brandon Sutter. Finally he got on the score sheet, with goals against Boston and Columbus. The reason for the shout out though, is that he is only starting 45.2% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Despite that, he is ending 58.1% of his shifts there. This stat has been pretty constant this whole season, but finally he got a couple goals to prove his hard work at getting the puck out of his own end and into the zone of the opposition. Finally he not only managed to get the puck in the opposition’s zone, but managed to get it in their net. Twice. I love seeing scrappers get goals, so well done Brandon Sutter.
In the three game losing streak the most talked about part of the Penguins’ game was special teams, mostly the power play. This past week they finally turned that around, netting three power play goals. Therefore I thought it was only right to highlight who has been getting us on the power play the most. Tanner Glass leads the team with 2.8 penalties drawn per 60 minutes (not including D’Agostini due to small amount of games played). While Megna has a limited number of games played, it’s worth noting he’s averaging 2.1 penalties drawn per 60 minutes, while not taking a single penalty himself. Additionally, while Malkin hasn’t necessarily been cashing in on the power play, he has been helping his team get there a lot, with his 1.9 penalties drawn average. Another notable player in the penalty drawing department is Joey V, who is drawing 1.8 penalties while taking .5. Currently, the only Penguins who are averaging more penalties taken then drawn are Sutter, Niskanen, Adams, and Jeffrey.
Lastly, the Pens team defense has been receiving the spotlight recently, so I decided to look at some on ice save percentage numbers. Going into this season many fans assumed Niskanen would be on the trading block. Now with the injury to Scuderi I’m not so sure. Niskanen is leading the Pens defense with an on ice save percentage of 951, the main reason that his PDO is also extremely high. The other defenseman who has been receiving a lot of publicity, Olli Maatta, is second with a saver percentage of 943. For forwards, Chuck Kobasew is the leader with his team-leading save percentage of 983. He is followed by Dustin Jeffrey (939) and Tanner Glass (934). Sidney Crosby, Jayson Megna, and Matt D’Agostini are the only Penguins forwards who currently have on on ice saver percentage less than 900. Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, and Kris Letang are the defensemen below the 900 mark.
Everything seemed to fall into place for the Penguins this week. Despite not having their greatest showing Friday, they still came away with a 4-2 win. Unhappy with the amount of chances the Blue Jackets received in the first game of the home-and-home series, the Penguins defense rose to the occasion Saturday and held Columbus to just 19 shots on net, helping rookie goalie Jeff Zatkoff earn his first NHL win, and shutout. Hopefully we’ll see more of the same this week. Look for Geno to finally start lighting the lamp and for Sid to stay at the top of the leader board.