A win is a win.
If I’ve heard that adage once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. And I certainly won’t disagree.
Still, while our Penguins have captured a remarkable seven of nine playoff contests thus far, they haven’t earned many style points along the way.
With an extra day between games and a little time to kill, I thought I’d share some numbers with our PenguinPoop readers.
Let’s start by taking a look at shooting stats.
|Attempts||on Goal||Shots||by Opp.||Att. %||For||%|
Obviously, the Pens have been outshot by a wide margin. Check that. A huge margin.
Through Game 4 of the Washington series, we’ve yielded 639 shot attempts—a whopping average of 71 per game. Along those lines, we’ve allowed 37.3 shots per game. That’s a heckuva a lot of work for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, not to mention a defense shorn of minutes-munching star Kris Letang.
On the flip side, we’ve managed a comparatively paltry 488 shots attempts—an average of 54.2 per game—and 264 shots on goal (29.3 per game). Our share of the shot attempts? A puny 42.9 percent. Against Washington, it’s even worse—36.9 percent.
Why are these numbers significant? As a general rule, teams that keep the heat on the opposition fare better than teams that don’t. Last spring, the black and gold had an impressive 52.1 percent of the total shot attempts.
Loosely translated, we applied a lot more pressure and spent a lot less time on our heels.
That’s the ideal dynamic for a smaller, speed-oriented squad like the Pens. With gifted talents like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, we’re built to attack, not stand and defend. Which we’ve had to do far too much this postseason.
Two saving graces? We’ve made our shots count. The Pens have scored on 13.3 percent of their shots on goal—a killer number. Last season’s Cup winners had a shooting percentage of 8.7 percent. Our 2017 playoff opponents, scattergun by comparison, have cashed in only 6.5 percent of the time.
Which again leads me to Fleury. Under extreme duress, Marc-Andre’s been phenomenal. He’s tied for fourth among starting goalies with a .935 save percentage, remarkable when you consider “Flower” has stared down far and away the highest number of shots per game.
To sum up? The Pens have mastered the art of winning ugly.
Fortunately, not all the stats are bad. After struggling during the regular season, our guys have fared remarkably well in the faceoff circle. And we’ve more than held our own in special teams play, as the following table suggests. Both key elements for success.
|Won||Lost||%||Play %||Kill %|
Can the Pens continue their winning ways?
Your guess is as good as mine. History favors teams with better possession numbers. But this year’s a bit of an anomaly, as a cluster of Corsi-challenged clubs—including the Pens, Rangers, Oilers and Blues—are in the hunt. And, while important indicators, stats don’t necessarily reflect a team’s competitive fire, spirit and hunger. Our Pens certainly possess the intangibles.
If Crosby returns hale and hearty?
Still like our chances.