Monday, January 22, 2007

Mid Season Review - The Team

What a difference a year makes, eh? If you've been following the team at all over the last two years, you know that the difference between this year and last year is like night and day. Ray Shero really shook things up a bit on the roster, and Michel Therrien's system has taken root.

In this article and one other, I'll take a look at the overall progress of the team and it's players through the first half of the 2006-2007 season.

First up, some basic information:

Penguins - 21-17-8 - 50 pts - tied for 8th in Eastern Conference

151 Goals Scored
3.26 Goals per Game
29.2 Shots per Game

The 3.26 Goals per Game is 5th in the NHL. This is a team where the perception is that there isn't consistent scoring from the wing. Imagine what these numbers will be if that scoring ever develops! For now, I think we have to be happy with the way the team is performing offensively. They are capable of generating consistent pressure (though not always consistent scoring) with multiple lines, much of it coming out of their disciplined system.

148 Goals Allowed
3.11 Goals per Game
31.2 Shots Allowed per Game

Still an area of weakness. The 31.2 shots allowed is 24th in the NHL, while the 3.11 goals allowed is 23rd. This is an improvement from last year, but it's not good enough yet. If anything keeps them from going to the playoffs, it will likely be their defense.

Even Strength:
1.09 5 on 5 Goals For / Goals Against Ratio

The Pens are tough at even strength. They've scored 6 more than they've allowed, good for 11th in the NHL. Strangely, they're much better on the road (+7) than they are at home (-1). This is the reverse of the special teams (as we'll see in a minute).

Power Play:
53 Goals
281 Chances
18.9% Success Rate

The 18.9% success rate is good for 7th in the NHL. The difference, however, between the power play at the Igloo versus on the road is marked. At home, the Pens have 34 goals in 161 chances, good for 21%. On the road, it's 19 goals in 119 chances - 16%. The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that the Pens have drawn 42 more penalties at home than they have on the road. That's HUGE. They need to work on drawing more penalties on the road.

Penalty Kill:
52 Goals Allowed
261 Chances
80.1% Success Rate

There is a similar dichotomy with the penalty killing. The Pens are highly successful at home (19-135, 85.9%) and not so much on the road (33-126, 73.8%). The big difference here is that the Pens have taken the second most penalties at home in the NHL. They're good at killing them off, but that number has to come down. On the road, they're the third worst in the NHL at 73.8%. That simply won't get it done, but I'd attribute it more to having a young team. I think the return of Mark Eaton will have a big impact on that number.


The Pens are in a great position. They have games in hand over every team around them, except for Boston. They have FOUR games in hand over the three teams immediately above them (Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Carolina), all of whom are between 4 and 8 points ahead of them.

I don't think anyone thought the offense would be this good (5th in the NHL in goals per game), and I think everyone expected the defense and penalty killing to be a little bit better than it has been, especially the PK on the road.

I think for the second half of the season, we'll see more of the same. The Pens are a streaky team this year, largely due to their youth. Their success in the second half will largely depend on Michel Therrien's ability to get them to play more consistently.

I think (hope) they'll make the playoffs.

Later this week - a mid season review of the players

Let's Go Pens!

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