Penguins Playoff Update: By the Numbers – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Playoff Update: By the Numbers

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.

Shot Shots Missed Blocked Shot Goals Shooting
Attempts on Goal Shots by Opp. Att. % For %
vs. CBJ 309 171 55 83 47.4 21 12.3
vs. WSH 179 93 43 43 36.9 14 15.1
Total 488 264 98 126 42.9 35 13.3
Total Opp. 639 336 115 198 57.1 22 6.5

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.

Faceoffs Faceoffs Faceoff Hits Power Penalty
Won Lost %   Play % Kill %
vs. CBJ 166 150 52.5 137 33.3 83.3
vs. WSH 132 124 51.6 112 13.3 78.6
Total 298 274 52.1 249 23.3 80.8
Total Opp. 274 298 47.9 336 19.2 76.7

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.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    May 6, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,
    Jake Allen lives to fight another day as the Blues nip Nashville.How about the Ducks! Stayed up late to watch the game on the West Coast.The young Oiler’s are up 3 goals to nil with about 3 and half minutes to play. They out played the Ducks all night to that point. Then the Ducks pull their goalie and score. Then they do it two more times and tie the game. I say to myself, this can not be happening. Only the all star teams of the Montreal Canadians in 1970’s can do this, or maybe Mario and the Pens in his prime. Of course the Ducks win in overtime. This should not have happened !! Not at the NHL level.
    The Oilers just like Toronto being a young team need to learn how to lose before they can win it all.
    There is still a lot of hockey to be played this season, but the 6 other teams playing right now for the Cup are NOT as deep and competitive as we are ! That is very apparent. Most local hockey experts have us favored to win.

    On a more serious note Rick,
    I was listening to a CBC radio show, much like your ” 60 Minutes” of old when they did news breaking stories that nobody else would touch. One segment is on Crosby’s 4 th concussion, the latest health information that the NHL and Hockey Canada is trying to suppress and the amazing work of the Doctors at Boston (University or College ?) the NFL and the Bayview Neurological Health Center at the University of Toronto. They have over 200 former NHL/ AHL hockey players and another 400 + kids from the age of 14 and up who play hockey and have had head trauma injuries agreeing to this long term, detailed study. Former Toronto /Ranger player Rod Seling was on the radio speaking.He chose his words carefully because of possible legal actions from the NHL and Hockey Canada. All the Doctors spoke much more freely.
    It comes down to this.” Objective” testing which is Brain scans, MRI, PET and EEG type testing and then” Subjective” testing which are the affects of the Head Trauma incidents themselves.( Memory loss, mood swings,pain, serious depression, dizziness, mobility issues,heart and stroke, vision, Parkinson’s. suicide, and many more serious affects.) Most interesting is in the majority of cases they have tested, the “objective testing” does NOT show anything.Yet these ” subjective testing” symptoms appear later in life.
    Just like Dementia with patients, you can not get a true clear picture of the Brain until you are dead and they do an autopsy of the individual brain itself.
    ( Morbid stuff ). This issue is having a serious affect on our game.
    Both in the US and Canada. At all levels Rick.
    Today it was mentioned that the insurance companies have taken notice of their work and now are considering what to do about it. Walking at the Danny Grant / Buster Harvey center today and was discussing this issue with a City Councilor,( he to played hockey growing up) and he said that ” what if a Hockey parent decided to SUE the City, as owner and operator of the Rink because we knew about the possibilities of Head Trauma and failed to properly notify the players and the parents and their 16 year old Bobby or Suzie gets a concussion “? With out proper insurance, the City is screwed he said. I agreed with him.
    Then he said…”What about the University of New Brunswick “? Can they afford to be sued ? They would shut down their hockey program first !
    What about the advertisers? Will they continue to support minor league Hockey programs if all this negative information was made public?
    Hockey mom’s are real and many are taking their kids and placing them into Basket ball and Soccer instead.
    Where does the NHL get it’s future players ? No wonder the NHL and Hockey Canada are trying to play this study down.. It is cause for concern.
    Sidney Crosby, the greatest player of his generation, and a beloved an adopted son of the City of Pittsburgh is changing the game unlike any other player in the History of Hockey. 2o years from now when they ask who was the greatest player to have ever played….It won’t be Mario, Bobby, Gordie, or even Jager….. It will be SIDNEY CROSBY who brought to light the real dangers of Head Trauma in Hockey and the coming changes that will occur to save our game. I really believe that Rick.
    It is sad, but nobody is talking about Letang and his many head trauma issues. The public, outside of Pittsburgh just does not care. But Sidney Crosby…. Everybody cares ! Even the BBC in Britain mentioned it on their sports cast this week. ( That does not happen every day.)
    All week in my country and especially Atlantic Canada where Sidney is from, the news has been about him. You can bet in the Board rooms of New York and Toronto that the power brokers are secretly discussing on what to do to save the game…. There is to much Money at stake !!
    Way to go Sidney…….

    * Sorry to go off in a tangent like this Rick….But history is being made and you are a big part of it. Danny agrees too.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 6, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      I think the real problem here is the laissez faire approach to deliberate and dangerous play, like we have seen this year in the play-offs. Alice the Goon aka the great 8 and his dastardly and diliberate stick swinging at Crosby that precipitated his current concussion is just one example.

      If the NHL would at least try to limit these types of injuries with a 0 tolerance policy, instead of their Neanderthal, Mike Milbury mentality, “oh its just part of the game”, I would have at least some level of compassion for the NHL in a Civil Action. However, since Milburyism is the rule throughout the referees and disciplinary office, I would be particularly retributive during the punitive phase of any action brought against the NHL.

      (I am refereing to comments Milbury had made trying to justify these types of plays and even proselytizing them by suggesting that he would have drilled Crosby had he been Ovechkin between periods of game 1 or 2).

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        May 6, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I hear you Coach. It is only when it starts to cost them real money will any real rule changes be made to the league. But something has to be done. Fast !
        I did not want to alarm the other contributors with the medical details, who may not follow the issues as you,Rick and others, but someone that has had 4 concussions like Sidney and I think 6 ( Major and Minor) for Kris, has had their lives ALREADY changed and only time can tell how MUCH. The information is pretty conclusive. The NFL has already accepted this, but they to tried to fight against the truth at first and a movie was made about it. Their advertisers got scared and changes are now being made….slowly !
        One saving grace is that the older generation of NHL Hockey players often were border line alcoholics, because of the travel and life style. After a game, out they go for a beer or 10 !! That also has a long term affect on the brain the study shows and the younger NHL players are more health conscious. So over all I remain optimistic and thank God for Sidney Crosby and the attention this issue is now getting.

        Hey Coach… Do we win tonight ?? 🙂

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          May 6, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          I hope so, I want to close this out as soon as possible. I do not want anymore serious injuries because of reckless play. With all that I have read, I do think there is a fair chance of a close out tonight. The pressue on the Caps is thru the roof.

    • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
      May 7, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink


      And so do I agree. Most of what you reference above re: after the fact symptoms, is already known because of the work of a one-time Pittsburgh-based pathologist, Dr. Bennett Omalu. He’s the doctor who did the autopsies on former, and late Steelers, Mike Webster, Justing Strelzyck and Terry Long. What you mention above are the exact findings of his work and his published report on CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The NHL, currently, just as the NFL, at the time (around 2002-2008), is wearing the blinders in order to protect the cash flow. Unfortunately, that’s how it works. Hopefully, just as in the NFL case, former and current NHL players will file the class action lawsuit that opens the doors.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        May 7, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Hey 55
        Is that not the same Dr. that Will Smith played in the movie.I think it said in the movie the Doctor lived in Pittsburgh or some where close by?
        What a small world? Let’s win tommorrow in 6.!

        • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
          May 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          That’s him. I’ve been wanting to see that movie. One of these days I’ll check it out.

          • Jim's Gravatar Jim
            May 7, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

            Hey 55,
            Yes you should. Everyone should !
            Great movie about a very tough subject that no one wants to talk about. I saw it twice.
            What the NFL, the Government, the State and others put that man thru was unbelievable. This man is really a hero for all his work.
            In the movie there is a famous line when his boss tries to discourage/ threaten him from publishing his early work. Not all the good stuff he discovers later, just the early stuff. His boss says:
            ” You have no idea who you are fighting, THEY OWN A DAY OF THE WEEK “..
            That is the power of the NFL in your country. Even the White house gets involved.
            Real good movie. Parallels what is happening now in the NHL .

  2. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    May 5, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    Looking at some of your stats, particularly the ones I am always harping on, I am glad Hockey games aren’t won on paper but on the ice.

    As I noted last post, I doubt Letang would change these pathetic numbers, since the Pens Shots Against have been bad all season, even when Letang was in the line up. Perhaps he was plagued with the herniated disc since the beginning, regardless, this season, the team D has stunk from a puck movement stand point.

    The good news for the Pens is that they are a team and not a gathering of self-important super-stars all vying for center stage. Teams win championships not posturing, egotistical, primadonnas. And the Pens have embodied a team under Sullivan, a far cry from the Bylsma and MJ eras when they were like so many other teams loaded with pompous superstars.

    You may be right, the Caps may have one last gasp push up their sleeve. However, the opposite could happen if the Pens get the first goal, especially if MAF weathers an early storm. That gorilla on the Caps back will destroy them and it could be the Caps that wind up on the wrong side of a lopsided game.

    I read a Cap Blog yesterday where the fans and talking heads in DC were whining about Bonino’s acting job and pretty much blaming that one play for the entire loss. If this mentality has seeped into the Caps locker room and they are crying about a play in the last minute of play rather than their own ineffectiveness over the previous 59 minutes, they may not have any confidence what so ever.

    And if that is the case, I hope they never get that confidence back.

    If Crosby does play in game five, hopefully the Pens get up by a couple of goals early and feed that festering cancer in their locker room.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Hey Other Rick,

      You and I seem particularly concerned about the shot-attempts-gap. (Kind of sounds like the missile gap of the Cold War Era, doesn’t it?)

      I don’t know about you. But I’m really having a hard time watching us get outshot to the extent we are. The other night, I purposely ran the sweeper at the gym with about 7 or 8 minutes to go … I just couldn’t bear to watch.

      Thank goodness we won. But I wonder how long we can keep it up …


      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 5, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick,

        As we said several times before great minds think a like. Of course we still haven’t figured out what that has to do with us.

        I understand about watching the the game the way a kid watches a horror movie, peeking between fingers as we cover our eyes.

        To paraphrase the comedian, the Pens don’t have to out run the monster, at least not yet, they just have to out run the Caps.

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 5, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Oh hey Rick,

        Did you see the article saying the Great Ape may be moved to the 3rd line next game?

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          May 5, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

          Hey Guys
          Saw that article about the big Ape moving to the 3rd line.What nobody wants to admit is that the ape is part of their problem. ( never thought I would say that)
          The Caps rely very heavily on getting goal production from him.
          Compare that to our balanced scoring thru out all four lines,along with MAF outstanding play, our 4 lines in the first 5 games have out scored the Caps. Same in the Columbus series. Note I said we out scored them not necessarily out played them.
          I know I mentioned this before but teams like NJD during their successful years were often out chanced 2-3 to 1 and still won. I think we are watching an unique team that plays a style of ” rope a dope”, to use an old boxing anology.
          This team we are watching is morphing before our eyes to a new level. Watching Rangers/ Ottawa last night the comment was mentioned that neither team wants to play the Pen’s. ..They want the Caps…
          Comments like that make me feel good.
          Let’s go Pen’s. 😀

          • Jim's Gravatar Jim
            May 5, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

            First 4 games not 5…can not add today.

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            May 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

            Hey Jim,

            Interesting comment. It reminds me of another team from another time. I will wait a little longer before I expound on that.

    • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
      May 7, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Hello Rick, tOR, Jim,

      Game five is in the books. Unlike every other game I’ve watched this season, I lost interest after they gave up the fourth goal with a thought I’ve been entertaining for some time now: How long before those shot differentials begin to take their toll?

      From where I sit, they lost game five when, in the second, they began to play as if they were trying not to lose. If there’s anything that annoys me more than this team trying to protect a one goal lead, in the second period no less, I don’t know what that is. Yeah, it worked other times this season, but this was a classic example of going to the well once too often. They had Washington second guessing themselves for a moment, then they took their foot of the gas. Shoot the damn puck! There’s no logical reason a team with this offensive power should be held to a paltry 22 shots in a possible series clinching game. None!

      They are banged up. The relentless physical attacks of these two series are showing. Dumoulin is playing hurt. I have no doubt Cole and Schultz are, too. And, perhaps, Guentzel also should be on that list, and maybe several others, for good measure. Anyone who thinks the Caps don’t know this is delusional. The penalty to Wilson in the first may have cooled his duals for a time, but I guarantee he’ll be his own, disgusting self when the puck drops Monday. Regardless of what some of the pundits are saying, the Caps have new life and a reason to believe. What that means to me is they’ll be hitting everybody with everything they have. And why not? Who’s going to stop them? The refs?

      And, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still waiting for Malkin to step up. His playoff point lead is most misleading. He hasn’t played well in either series and it’s obvious his head is somewhere else. He’s shown a few mere minutes of brilliance but has otherwise been a turnover machine, throwing half-hearted passes to Washington sticks, missing open men, and at times trying to do it all himself with forecheck-killing fumbles. I have yet to see a shot of him on the bench with that look of fire in his eyes. I have no idea what he might be waiting for, but he looks lost and his play has been proof of that.

      Here are my points to win, since Errey isn’t allowed to speak at this time of year per NBC:

      1. They must exploit the pinching Washington D and find some odd man breaks for their big guns. The way they play in their own zone I can’t see that a Crosby, a Malkin, or a Kessel, hanging out near the blue line once in a while would make much difference.

      2. How about you hit somebody who’s carrying the puck into your zone? Unmolested? Don’t stand there and watch him. Knock him down.

      3. GET TO THE NET. How about a center drive once in a while with someone crashing the net from the off wing? I can’t count how many times in this series they had a man heading toward Holtby dead on and the only guys anywhere near him were Caps. Got speed? Use it.

      4. Crisp, tape-to-tape passes in close. They have to get Holtby moving side-to-side as often as possible.


      No doubt they have to put the bit in their mouth come Monday night and dig deep. If this series goes to seven, they’re going home early.


      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        May 7, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        Well said 55 .
        I wondered when Backstrom would finally wake up. Lets all hope he goes back to sleep for game 6 and as you said, Malkin puts in a MVP performance. We will need it.

  3. Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
    May 5, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Hey all,

    Just a quick note. There’s a discrepancy in the Pens’ shots on goal total in Game 4. Most sites listed it as 18. NHL.com counted 19 in its game summary.

    The NHL has our total shots on goal listed as 265 in one place, and 264 in another, which agrees with the other sites. So that’s the number I went with.

    Also…I really hope I’m wrong. But I sense a lopsided Caps win coming in Game 5 … 🙁



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