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Blog : A Look Through the Rearview Mirror Statistically Speaking

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
A Look Through the Rearview Mirror…Statistically Speaking

A simple glance at any sports website will show you that the Penguins are 31 games into their 48 game shortened campaign. The Penguins boast a record of 23-8-0 for a total of 46pts, tops in the Eastern Conference, and tied with Anaheim for second in the league. While on the surface, one can say, “Wow! That’s really good!”, a more detailed look into the Penguins record shows that it is actually not just “good” but more so “fantastic”. Let’s break down some statistics of the Penguins’ season thus far:

  • Games Remaining: 17 (48 Total)
  • Penguins Home Record: 11-4-0 22pts.
  • Penguins Away Record: 12-4-0 24pts.
  • *ROW (Regulation/OT Wins): 21
  • *SOW (Shootout Wins): 2
  • Current Win Streak: 10G, 2 Mar 13 - Current, (prev. best 5G, 31 Jan – 7 Feb 13)
  • Current Home Win Streak: 8G (Started the year 3-4 @ Home)
  • Breakdown of Wins/Losses in 10G intervals:
    • W,W,L,L,W,L,W,W,W,W (6-4)
    • W,L,L,W,W,W,L,W,W,L (6-4)
    • L,W,W,W,W,W,W,W,W,W (9-1)
    • W (31 Total Games)

  • Record Scoring 3 Goals or Less: 10-3 (9 ROW, 1 SOW)
  • Record Scoring 3 Goals or More: 13-5 (12 ROW, 1 SOW)
  • Wins vs. Division 8-4-0, 16 of total 46pts (~35%) from Atlantic Foes
  • Closest Division Opponent: New York Rangers: 32pts, 14pts/7 Games behind

The list could go on and on, but I have highlighted what I feel are the three “Big Takeaways” from my list of blasé statistics.
First up is, ROW v. SOW (Regulation/OT Wins v. Shootout Wins).

“So why is this stat important?” one might ask. Good question. There are a couple of reasons why it is important, methinks.
  • First is, ROW is used as a discriminator in the tiebreaking process if two (or more) teams are tied in points. More simply put, 2pts from an ROW > 2pts from an SOW. The fact that the Penguins have won ALL but 2 games in ROW fashion makes their 46pts look much better in the grand scheme of seeding, should they happen to tie a particular team in total points. This will most certainly become a player as MTL and BOS are jockeying for the #2 seed (MTL has 43pts and BOS 41pts) as well as trying to stay “within striking distance” of the Penguins. If either of these two teams happens to tie the Penguins, ROW is going to be critical.
  • Secondly, and one could argue more importantly, is that the Penguins are winning games without the help of the shootout (obviously). The point I am trying to make is; the Penguins are finding ways to win close games, in regulation! This means the Penguins are winning games that did not need a shootout in order to win. Last year, the Penguins were involved in 12 SO games, they won 9 of 12. Had they gotten into a potential tiebreaker scenario, they most certainly would have gotten bumped because they could not close teams out “in regulation”. One final point on ROW v. SOW. Remember, there is no shootout in the playoffs, therefore, relying on the shootout to win close games, in my opinion, actually hurts you rather than helping you when it comes to being prepared for the playoffs. (I will concede, that one could argue the point that, had you not won your shootout games, and received your extra point, you may well not even make the playoffs. However, that is not the point I am trying to drive home). Moving along…

The second of my three “Takeaways” is the Penguins’ record in games where they score 3 goals or less.

  • Looking back on the Penguins’ past history in close games (and one need not go back very far), you will see that the Penguins haven’t been that great a team when they are not “scoring” goals. Last year the Penguins were 15-28 (that includes SO and OT losses) when they scored 3 goals or less. This was a huge reason why, they could not “finish off” the Flyers in the playoffs; the Penguins were your proverbial “faders”. Not only were they unable to win close games, to add insult to injury, they could not win close games (down the stretch in the reg. season and playoffs) even when they were scoring 3 or more GPG.
  • This year has been much different, however. Looking at the 31 games thus far, the Penguins are 10-3 when scoring 3 goals or less. That’s what we call “winning playoff-style games”. And in these games, it isn’t like the Penguins are necessarily “holding on” to win; they are also winning games at the end, when they are down, but comeback late to win. These wins galvanize your team and ready you for the long arduous path of the playoffs. Bottom line: the Penguins are not relying solely on “high octane offense” this year to get them through to the playoffs and beyond; they are winning tight, gritty, and sometimes, come-from-behind close games. These games are the ones that most resemble “playoff” games. And to me that is a great sign going forward.

My final “Takeaway” is the ever present “stranglehold” the Penguins have on the Atlantic Division.
  • With just 17 games left the Penguins hold a 7 game (14pt) lead over their next closest Atlantic Division rival, the NY Rangers. This point is crucial if the Penguins happen to “slip up” (and I hope they do not, for the record) over the next couple of games. The chasm/gap they have built will most certainly get them no less than a #3 seed going into the playoffs as the Atlantic Division Champion.
  • Furthermore, with each passing game that an Atlantic Division team loses, it becomes exponentially harder for said team to catch the Penguins. Let me break it down this way using the Penguins and Rangers as an example. If the Rangers and Penguins both win a game, the Rangers are still 7 games behind the Penguins. If the Penguins lose and the Rangers lose, same result, 7 games behind. But here is the kicker. The Rangers now have 1 less game to make up the 7 game gap! The only way the Rangers catch the Penguins, is if they have a record that is 7 games better over the next 17 games. That my friends is next to impossible to do with the amount of remaining games at hand.
  • For those that like numbers, here is your proof at the difficulty that belies the Rangers. Let’s assume over the final 17 games the Penguins go 8-9, (assuming all games are decided in regulation). The Penguins’ final record would be 31-17-0, 62 total points with 29 ROW. With the Rangers’ current record of 15-12-2, 32pts and 12 ROW, and 19 remaining games; even if they won 75% of their remaining games (19 x .75) = 14.25 (14 Wins) that still puts the Rangers 1 point shy of the Penguins! The Rangers’ final record would be 29-17-2, 60pts and 26 ROW. The Penguins would ace the Rangers not only in points but in ROW as well. Even if you took that .25 and assumed that was an OT/SO loss, the Rangers would be 29-16-3, 61pts but still with only 26 ROW. Penguins win on the aforementioned ROW tiebreaker! Bottom line: The Penguins need only keep their collective “beaks” above water and they will walk away with the Division Title!

These are my thoughts as I look back at the Penguins’ season to this point. I know there is a long way to go, but I am optimistic, at least for now. I know I didn’t touch on their ability to continue to win games w/o their stars (Malkin and/or Letang), or even their resurgent goaltending and defensive play. I will save those topics for another time…Cheers!:beer:

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