AFTERMATH: Pens beat Panthers

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(Chaz Palla / Tribune-Review)

(Chaz Palla / Tribune-Review)

When discussing the line of Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary, coach Mike Sullivan almost ran out of words after a 4-0 win over Florida today.

“They’ve been a dynamic line for us. I don’t know how else to say it. I feel like I use the same language to describe them after every game.”

Let’s try to help Sullivan out.

You can use a plain old stat line. It tells the story pretty well. They’ve combined for 11 goals, 33 points and 96 shots on goal over the past eight games. That’s not bad.

It’s not my specialty, but you can use fancy stats too.

Limiting it to today’s game, the Panthers held a 36-31 advantage over the Penguins in shot attempts at even strength. In the face of that, the Penguins had a 15-8 advantage when Sheary was on the ice, 14-8 for Crosby and 16-9 for Guentzel. Relative to their teammates, that’s a bonanza.

Looking at the entire season before today’s game, Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary averaged more shot attempts for at even strength than all but two other line combinations in the league. That’s a pretty good indication of how dynamic they’ve been.

cfrankings

If that’s not your style, you can also just watch them. I mean, here. Watch. How do you defend that?

Eventually, after thinking about it, Sullivan came up with some different words to describe the line. I think the part about making two or three 3-foot passes really tells the story well.

— I’ve mentioned before that I don’t put a lot of stock into psychoanalysis of professional athletes, but Marc-Andre Fleury since the trade deadline: 3-1-1, 1.67 GAA, .946 save percentage.

I’m starting to believe there’s a correlation between stress level and performance.

— You’ve probably seen this amazing Kessel-Hornqvist play by now.

Funny story about that. You know how the Penguins end warm-ups with a full-team scrum around Fleury, trying to get one last puck in? Fleury said today’s scrum ended with Hornqvist knocking in an airborne pass from behind the net out of midair.

Fleury’s point? It wasn’t luck.

— After a rough outing Friday against New Jersey, Derrick Pouliot was a plus-1 in 15 minutes of ice time and made no big, glaring mistakes. I’m hesitant to declare it a huge step forward, though. When Pouliot was on the ice at even strength, the Panthers had a 13-5 edge in shot attempts. That’s not good.

I guess moving from being on the ice for three goals against to being on the ice for a lot of shot attempts that don’t turn into goals against is an improvement, but I think it’s safe to say there needs to be more.

Bye for now,

jb

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