What the Fancy Stats Say About Round 1
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A couple quick hits on what the advanced metrics can tell us about the Pens surviving Round 1 against the New York Islanders. The numbers, not unexpectedly, are not pretty.
—Corsi is a measure of On-Ice Shot Differential (goals + saves + missed shots + blocks, expressed as a rate stat per 60 minutes). The Penguins only had 6 players with a positive Corsi at even strength—James Neal 27.66, Joe Vitale 10.75, Chris Kunitz 6.94, Sidney Crosby 4.89, Evgeni Malkin 3.18, and Pascal Dupuis 0.70. Basically the Pens top six forwards minus Jarome Iginla and Joe Vitale in limited minutes. In contrast, the Penguins had 8 players with a negative Corsi below -24, including notable forwards Jarome Iginla, Brandon Sutter, and Brenden Morrow. The stats tell us exactly what we already knew: the Pens struggled mightily to drive possession and spent far too much time in their own zone.
—Several of Ray Shero’s celebrated acquisitions in the past year performed very poorly at even strength when compared to the play of their own teammates. Corsi Relative measures a player’s Corsi while he is on the ice versus his team’s Corsi while he is off the ice. When compared with their own teammates, the bottom three Penguins in Corsi Relative were Brenden Morrow -26.3, Brandon Sutter -23.8, and Jarome Iginla -23.1. The Penguins were at their puck possession and territorial worst with these three on the ice.
—In fairness to Morrow and Sutter, both were given assignments against tougher competition and strongly unfavorable territorial starts. Sutter was 3rd and Morrow 7th in Corsi Quality of Competition (average Relative Corsi of opposing players, weighted by head-to-head ice time). Sutter and Morrow began a paltry 23.1% and 31.4% of their even strength shifts in the offensive zone. I doubt either would say they were satisfied by their performance in Round 1, but their disappointing Corsi and Corsi Relative numbers, when viewed in the context of their competition and territorial starts, are not quite as poor as they first appear.
—Jarome Iginla does not share the same mitigating factors for his unimpressive Corsi numbers. He played against slightly above average competition with elite linemates. He started 57.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone. He did produce 2 goals, 7 assists in 6 six games, but he was not particularly visible, did not drive possession and territory, and arguably his production was more the product of his linemates than his own play. While one could question his being put on LW by the coaching staff, he needs to play better in the defensive and neutral zones. Iginla sits tied for 3rd in league playoff scoring with Sidney Crosby, but he has not been as dominant as his raw offensive numbers suggest.
—Seventeen of the twenty three players who played for Pens in Round 1 have a PDO above 1000. As poorly as Marc-Andre Fleury played, the Islanders got even worse goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov. The PDO numbers suggest that the Penguins are due for a regression in terms of “puck luck.” They likely will need to work harder than ever to generate goals, because the fortunate bounces they’ve gotten so far are not sustainable.