I wrote something the other day in which I pointed out how lousy Pittsburgh’s become after they lose faceoffs in the neutral zone. The key table (although you should read the whole thing) was this:
I went back and generated two graphs that shed some light on things, I think. We know that Pittsburgh’s a different team when they have Crosby or Malkin on the ice than when they don’t. I graphed the shot attempts for and against in the 29 seconds following an NZ loss with Crosby and/or Malkin on the ice and without them on the ice. I think it’s instructive.
Sid and Geno first:
At the risk of stating the obvious, when you lose a neutral zone faceoff, you get outshot in the next 29 seconds. The reason is obvious: you’re starting without the puck. In order to generate a shot attempt, you have to first retrieve the puck. Even for players as great as Malkin and Crosby, this holds true. You can see that in 2009-12 (the blue/green lines), which coincide with Dan Bylsma’s first three full years, they got outshot after they lost an NZ draw.
It got worse though the past two years. The SAA are up about 10%, the SAF are down about 20%. Their Corsi% has fallen from 43.8% to 36.2% in these situations, where 40% is about the league average.
Now let’s look and see what happens when they aren’t on the ice.
Oof. We actually see the same thing, to a degree: the damage to the SAF numbers is much bigger than the damage to the SAA numbers. The SAA are up 13%. The SAF are down almost 50%!!! Their Corsi% has declined from 43.4% from 2009-12 to 26.3% from 2012-14. As a fun comparison, Boston’s Corsi% in the 37 seconds following a defensive zone faceoff loss in the 2012-14 seasons was 26.9%. Boston does better losing a defensive zone faceoff than Pittsburgh does losing a neutral zone faceoff without Crosby or Malkin on the ice. It almost defies belief.
As I said, I’m inclined to think that this is tactics gone amok. If you’re a Penguins fan (or coach) interested in figuring it out, I’d be looking into what change has occurred that’s made it harder to generate shot attempts as time passes from an NZ faceoff loss. It could be terrible zone exits. Maybe they’re dumping the puck in more and not pressuring, I’ve got no idea but there’s something going on here. Find the solution to this by spending a few hours with video and there’s an extra two points in the standings for you, as well as an increase in your chances of winning a given playoff game.Email Tyler Dellow at email@example.com