Two Week Round-up: 12/3 - 12/17

Two week roundup is a season long look at the Penguins performance over the previous two week period. It will highlight what the team is doing right and what they are doing wrong. It will track individual and team performance for that period and for the season to that point.

Overall Record – 24-10-1 / Last two weeks - 5-1-1

- Overview -

The hospital is officially closed. After nearly two months of injury after injury hampering the team, the Penguins finally have their full lineup back.
One unfortunate side effect of this though is that Martin Skoula has gone back to the waiting room. During this long stretch of injuries, there were several guys who stepped up and kept the team competitive and even respectable when many teams would have folded. But none were more impressive then Martin Skoula. He was, by far, the most complete defenseman on the ice in the last two months. His back check was superb and could then turn right around and lead a scoring chance back up ice. I can only hope that Dan Bylsma can find a way to get him back on the ice because one thing is certain…he has earned it.

With everyone back on the ice, the Pens looked fairly dangerous over the last seven games. Sure they had some shaky games against the Blackhawks and the Canes, but they are playing very solid hockey, their goaltending has been awesome, and they have one of the best records in the NHL. Can’t ask for much more then that.

- Team Stats -

I have to say, eve
n though the PP continues to be mediocre, it looks like it is starting to take shape again. The Power Play improved a little to 17.9% over the last seven games, but the Pens were 4-15 over the last three games for a 26.7% success rate. If they can keep that up, look out. Overall, though, the Pens are up slightly for the season to 14.8%, but they did drop to 29th in the league. Nowhere to go but up from here.

The penalty kill has been exceptional thus far, but it took a little bit of a hit over the last two weeks. The Penguins killed off 20 of 26 penalties for a 76.9% success rate. They are now down to 82.3% for the season, and 12th in the league. But that doesn’t seem so bad when you consider the two Short handed goals netted by Staal and Geno against the Flyers.

The Penguins continue to consistently and convincingly outshoot their op
ponents. Over these seven games, the Pens out shot the other team in six of those games averaging 35 shots/game compared to 25/game for the opponents. For the season, they are now 4th in the league in shots and 3rd in shots against. And the really good news is that Sid and Geno are shooting the puck…a lot.

The Penguins continue to help their goaltenders by blocking a whole lot of shots every game. How many you a
sk? Well, in the last seven games, the opponents were able to get 180 shots on net. The Penguins defense was able to block 104 additional shots. They are averaging 15 blocked shots per game and are currently 5th in the NHL with 543 for the season

The Penguins success at the face-off dot went back down a little over the last two weeks. They won at a 47% rate over the last seven games and overall, they are down to 20th in the league at 48.8%. While Sidney Crosby continues to dominate the face-offs, Jordan Staal has quietly become the #2 guy on the team taking the majority of face-offs when Sid is not there.

____________________The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly____________________


* Marc-Andre Fleury– It is really easy to take goaltending for granted when you have an offensive powerhouse like the Penguins have, but there is one thing that is certain. The Penguins would not be as dominant as they are, were it not for Fleury. He has been nothing but phenomenal this season and should be considered in Vezina consideration. One thing probably preventing that is that Fleury’s numbers don’t reflect just how good he has been. He has one of the lowest save percentages in the league, but that is because he faces far less shots then any other top goalie in the league. Of the top ten (wins) goalies in the league, the other nine, on average, have faced 771 shots this season. Fleury has faced only 667. That is over 100 fewer shots this season. Flower looks confident in net and that makes him dangerous.

* Shorthanded Goals – The PK has been great all season, but what makes it even more treacherous is being a scoring threat at the same time. The Penguins have five shorthanded goals so far this season, one behind the league leaders, and at times have looked more threatening on the PK then on the PP. Over the last seven games, the power play scored only five goals, and the PK managed to net two goals. Jordan Staal is currently grouped among the league leaders with two SHG this season.

* Sid’s face-offs – What makes Sid stand out over so many other talented goal scorers in the league is the other things he does on the ice. Possibly the most important of those is his prowess at the face-off dot. Over the last two weeks, Sid was 77-135 at face-offs for a 57% success rate and he also at 57% for the season. Sid has won more face-offs this season then anyone else in the NHL and is 3rd in total face-offs taken. And his FO% is better then the two guys above in that category. In fact, of the top 30 face-off takers, only Patrice Bergeron has a better winning percentage then Sid and he has taken over 100 fewer face-offs the Sid. There is no one else in the NHL more dangerous at the dot then Sid.


*Power Play – Sure, it is improving slowly, but with the PP still below 15% for the season, it still falls under this category. I like where they are going and I have no doubt the Pens will continue to improve with the man advantage. The passing has improved and the PP seems to be making better decisions over the last few games, but let’s see how they do in upcoming games against teams like
New Jersey and Buffalo.

* Everyone else’s Face-offs – So Sid is making everyone else in the league cry at the face-off circle, but yet, as a team, the Pens are 20th in the NHL at the dot. With
Crosby taking the Lion’s share of the face-offs and a 10 point difference between his and the teams FO%, it would seem that the rest of the team is not helping at all. When you take Sid’s contribution out of the equation, the Pens were only good on 42% of their face-offs over the last seven games, and that is just sad. Face-offs are one of those things that can keep a great team from winning like they should.


* Penalties – Luckily for the Penguins, their PK has been one of the best in the league. And why shouldn’t it be? They get plenty of practice. Over the last seven games, the Pens are averaging 13.7 PIMS per game and 14.4 for the season which is 8th worst in the league. And who is 3rd and 5th on the team in PIMS? None other then our best offensive players in Malkin and Crosby respectively. Offensively, Geno had a great stretch over the last two weeks. He had a PP goal, a SH goal and seven assist over seven games, but he is frequently taking multiple penalties in games and that’s no good since, not only is he integral in the offense, but he is great on the PK as well. And Sid seems to spread his penalties out more, but the Pens best offensive player can’t be spending more time in the sin bin then Brooks Orpik, Craig Adams, and Eric Godard, which he currently does.

Three Stars

#3 – Bill Guerin – Daddy had 3 goals and 2 assists over the stretch, and has been shooting a ton and making his presence known on the ice.
#2 – Evgeni Malkin – Despite his penalty woes Geno had 2 goals and 7 assists including a SHG. He is always effective at both ends of the ice and becoming even more well-rounded.
#1 – Marc-Andre Fleury– Flower was
4-1-1 over the stretch and some of the saves he has been making have been indescribable…so there is nothing else to say.


What injuries?

Additional Thoughts

* The Pens are 3rd in the league in +/- at +20 as a team
* The Pens are 1st in the NHL with 993 hits for the season.
* Astoundingly, the Penguins are 5-0 on the road in games that go to OT or a shootout.
* When Sid sat out the Blackhawks game, Mark Letestu filled in nicely winning 56% of his face-offs.

Up Next

Not a merry Christmas for the Pens with a tough stretch of games ahead.

  • 12/19 – @. Buffalo Sabres
  • 12/21 – vs. New Jersey Devils
  • 12/23 - vs. Ottawa Senators
  • 12/27 – vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
  • 12/29 – @. Buffalo Sabres
  • 12/30 – @ New Jersey Devils

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