I know I’m probably going to expose my own ignorance with this post and should probably just leave the statistical analysis to Bill West, but I figured I’d take a look at the Eastern Conference finals using a couple of stats I like to use to evaluate player performance, points per 60 minutes of ice time at all manpower situations and Corsi For percentage at even strength. I think they pair together pretty well to give and indication of how a player is doing.
Let’s start with the Penguins forwards:
Kessel, Bonino and Hornqvist have picked up their scoring rates significantly. Hagelin hasn’t, which shows me just how good he really was in the regular season. Malkin is also remarkably consistent when it comes to point production. The fourth line has been badly out-possessed in the playoffs.
Now, the Penguins defense:
The fact that only Letang has a positive Corsi for percentage tells me that the Penguins’ plan to have a quick, mobile defense lead the transition game is harder to pull off in the playoffs than in the regular season. I mean, it’s working. They’re 8-3 in the playoffs. But it’s harder.
Now to the Tampa Bay forwards
Tyler Johnston is living up to his reputation as a playoff performer. Nikita Kucherov is a certified stud. Jonathan Drouin looks to be the real deal. Alex Killorn is having a great postseason, and he was particularly effective against the Penguins in the regular season. The bottom six, meanwhile, looks weak. It makes me wonder if home ice might be more important for the Penguins this round than it was in the previous two. It looks like there are some matchups that could be exploited. Like, think about the HBK line or the Malkin line against the Boyle line. Might be trouble for Tampa.
Finally, the Tampa defense:
Hedman is as good as it gets, but you already knew that. Stralman has owned the Penguins this season. After that, nothing jumps out at me. Again, might be fertile ground for some matchup plays. I’m guessing at these pairs because Stralman is returning from injury.
So in conclusion:
When I look at the big picture, I can’t help but think this could be another series where Sidney Crosby’s contributions won’t be best measured on the scoresheet. If his line goes out and plays the Hedman pair or the Johnson line to a stalemate, the Penguins could peck away at some potential weaknesses elsewhere.
Feel free to hit up the comments and tell me my analysis is sophomoric. I’m not an experienced stats guy, and I know this.
Bye for now,