Prompted by a discussion with the internet’s Ryan Lambert on Twitter, I present this chart of the Penguins’ Corsi% with and without Crosby or Malkin on the ice for the six years in which that data is available.
Having two lines (Crosby and Malkin barely played together this year at 5v5) that can crank out Corsi% at 56% is a hell of an advantage for a team. It can overcome a lot of things. For example, this year, it overcame having a bottom two lines that piled up Corsi% at a 43.5% rate. That was the Pens achilles heel though. (Fine, their other achilles heel.)
Awards are awards and kind of silly but I found it sort of bizarre that Ray Shero won GM of the Year this year. The whole job in Pittsburgh is to put a bottom six on the ice around Malkin and Crosby. The Pens, for whatever reason, were unable to do that this year. They spent draft picks and prospects to get players who didn’t fix it. Flags fly forever and you don’t know how long Sid and Geno will be all-world players, so I get going for it. I just kind of think that the electorate rewarded the appearance of action rather than asking whether or not problems were actually fixed.
Crosby and Malkin are special players who kind of warp the laws of hockey – they’re players with true talent 5v5 on-ice shooting percentages that might be north of 10%. That being said, the bottom six was a pretty tremendous weakness in PIttsburgh last summer and I don’t see them as having fixed it this summer. This, to me, kind of symbolizes the difference between the elite in the West and the elite in the East – the elite teams in the West have their weaknesses but they don’t have glaring disaster areas like Pittsburgh did in the bottom six last year.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org