Know Your Enemy – The Pittsburgh Penguins

You already know the names. Crosby. Malkin. Neal. Iginla. Letang. 

That's the easy part about writing this: You already know who the Penguins are. They're the best team in the NHL. If you're asking yourself if the Pittsburgh Penguins are better than the Chicago Blackhawks – just stop. I already said they're the best team in the NHL didn't I? While they had a difficult time putting away the New York Islanders (and I loosely mean difficult), they ran through the Ottawa Senators and here we are. 

We'll give our predictions at the end of the post so keep on reading...

Offense

crosby

The Penguins are a fucking juggernaut man. Their offense is disgusting and they roll out four lines that have no issues putting the puck in the net. Look, when Brenden Morrow is on your fourth line, your team is stacked. When you look at the playoff stats, three of the top five in points are Penguins (Malkin [16P], Letang [16P] and Crosby [15p}) with the other two being Boston Bruins. 

In the playoffs, the Penguins post a 4.27 goal per game average on offense. The second highest? Boston at 3.17. Think about this for a minute. The Penguins are scoring a goal more then everyone else. They have played 9 games where they've scored 4 or more goals in this postseason. They've played 11 games total. 

I mean we're talking about a ridiculous offensive team. 

But surprisingly they've been average on faceoffs. I know that sounds minor, but consider you have Crosby/Malkin taking a majority of draws, the Penguins barely clip a 50% winning percentage in the dot. 

It's funny because when you look at stats like "Winning Percent when Trailing First" and "Winning Percent when Scoring First", Pittsburgh again posts gross numbers (.714% and .750% respectively). Their offense is dynamic enough that they can get contributions from everywhere and every line. 

There is nothing I can look at that shows a crack in their defensive armor. 

Winning Percent when leading after the first period? .833%
Winning Percent when leading after the second period? .875%

Total goals scored? 47
Total goals 5-on-5? 30 (first in the NHL)
Total power play goals? 12 (first in the NHL) 
Total goals 4-on-5? 2 (first in the NHL)

You get the point. 

Defense

letang

This is where I think the black and Vegas gold tends to break down a little bit. Their defense isn't as good as their offense (well duh). It's 8th in goals against per game at 2.54. I think that defense gets overlooked a lot because the offense is so disgusting. It's an easy thing to do. They also allow a lot of shots on goal - 33.4 per game - the most of the four teams left. 

I'm not saying their defense is bad, but I am saying that it can be exploited. 

The defense has allowed 28 goals this postseason (same as Boston) with 21 of them coming 5-on-5, 3 of them coming 5-on-4 and 4 of them 4-on-5 (which is good, unlike the Bruins 7 allowed). 

if you look at their top players categorized by minutes, Kris Letang (27 minutes TOI per game), Paul Martin [who was having a phenomenal year before he got hurt] (26:31 minutes TOI per game) and Brooks Orpik (24:41 minutes TOI per game). 

And outside of Letang they really lack offensive refinement. I mean, the only thing Douglas Murray does well is hit people – and he has to catch up to them first to be able to do it. Surprisingly however he's scored more goals in the playoffs than over the course of his regular season career (I think {see: too lazy to look it up].

Goaltending

vokoun

Lastly we come to goaltending. I'm not even going to touch MAF because the guy sucks. The Penguins are riding the fact that Tomas Vokoun will continue to play out of his mind (6-1 in 7 games with a 1.85 GAA and a .941 SV%) and not revert back to the last time he was in the playoffs, which was 6 years ago with Nashville. 

When you look at Vokoun's body of work this season, he's been solid for a team that was in need of solid backup goaltending. At any point, is anyone who roots for the Penguins concerned that Vokoun won't be able to handle this type of pressure? He's never been past the first round in the playoffs and he's never played more than the amount of games he's played in them this year. 

This is basically all new for him – just like it is for Tuukka Rask. 

The last thing I want to point out regarding Vokoun is his rebound control, which is something that could hurt the Penguins. It hasn't been prominent because Pittsburgh has been up by a lot in most of their games this postseason, but a team like Boston will be able to post their big bodies in front of the net and go to town. 

Predictions

Okay, here it goes!

Justin: Bruins in 7

Pizz: Bruins in 6

Jon: Pens in 3

Pez: Pens in 6

Purrgeron: Licking himself

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