Game #35 at Penguins: Do we have to?

Kevin McCartney
March 28 2013 04:06PM

Preview

Hey, those Penguins are big news, aren’t they? By acquiring prized deadline mover and the best right winger to ever grace the lobby of a Scotiabank, Jarome Iginla, the Pens have somehow overshadowed their own story of adding hockey-buzz-word inducing Brendan Morrow and Douglas Murray. They’re going “all-in” says GM Ray Shero, but thankfully for the Jets, their best players are almost ‘all out’ with injury tonight. (Preposition play!) Oh, except the highest scorer in the league. But really, Stamkos has a game in hand on Crosby, so assuming he can score 12 points in that game, we’ll have a new #1. Eat it Sid!

Out of the lineup tonight are All-Star defenceman Kris Letang, streaky-but-on-a-good-streak-currently MA Fleury, and Jarome Iginla, who remains in suburban captivity along with Darryl Sittler. Malkin is a game-time decision. Regardless of the rest of the lineup, the story of the game will be Sidney Crosby. Below is a graph of each Penguin’s scoring with and without Crosby rated as goals for per 20. The size of the bubble shows time on ice together. You might notice that ALL of the Penguins are on-ice for over 1.2 goals per 20 minutes of ice time when they play with Crosby, and less than a goal for per 20 minutes when they’re without him. To put it more starkly, when Crosby is on the ice, the Penguins score 5.21 goals per 60 minutes of play. When he’s off the ice? 1.94. That’s insane. 

 

By the Numbers

 

Penguins

Jets

5x5 GF/60

3.0 (1st)

2.3 (T-18th)

5x5 GA/60

2.1 (T-7th)

2.6 (T-19th)

Goals by Period

36 – 33 – 44

20 – 35 – 29

Fenwick (5x5 Close)

50.7 (13th)

50.3 (T-15th)

PDO

1034 (3rd)

1018 (4th)

 

Home

Away

Home

Away

PP%

25.4% (T-5th)

22.2% (4th)

15.4% (23rd)

14.6% (21st)

PK%

78.7% (23rd)

80.3% (15th)

80.0% (21st)

77.4% (23rd)

Top Scorer

Sidney Crosby

17GP 10-18-28

Sidney Crosby

17GP 5-21-26

Andrew Ladd

16GP 8-8-16

Andrew Ladd

18GP 6-10-16

Coach's Coaching

Jets

Get Crosby off the ice

That’s not a call for injury – I mean, get power plays, work the lines to defend Crosby and then play hockey when he’s off, and cycle in the offensive zone to waste his minutes.

Collapse against Crosby

I don’t know that anyone has figured out how to beat Crosby, and I’m certainly not going to be the first. But I do think I know how to beat Kunitz and Dupuis, and most importantly, limit rebound opportunities. And that’s to collapse. Without Letang, the Penguins backend is not the most skilled (though not to be over-looked). With a proper collapse and box-out, I’d rather have Paul Martin with a shooting lane from 60 feet than chase Crosby around trying to limit his space until he finds the backdoor.

Penguins

Score Early

The best way to force a team to open up is get the first goal. Penguins are 17-5 when they score first, and it makes coaching against Crosby a lot harder.

Work for it

The thing people rarely remember about the Penguins is that they are actually built much like the Bruins or Kings – with grit and depth – but their top end players are the best in the world instead of just very good. This is a team that is physical (6th in road hits despite pretty even possession numbers) and likes to outwork other teams. They’re up against the team with the most road hits (that’s us!) and a group with a lot of big bodies. If they’re feeling superior today because of the skill their GM acquired, they could find themselves chasing the play.

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Kevin is a regular contributor to Jets Nation. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, The Sporting News, and around the Nations Network. An enthusiastic over-analyst, his background and interests are diverse, but you might notice he's obsessed with hockey. Track him down on twitter @kevinmccart
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