1. 4.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


01 October 2008

Sid the Kid Crosby. Evgeni Malkin.

Now that’s said, let’s look at how the PITTSBURGH PENGUINS fared last season. Pretty well, apparently. Having elevated their team play, the PENGUINS’ cohesion came about much sooner than many had predicted. Cohesive enough to propel themselves to the Stanley Cup Finals as victors in the East having only lost 2 playoff games in the climb. Although rightly subdued by the stalwart Wings in six games most believe we will see Mario’s team in many more fruitful Cup runs over the next few years.

In the previous two seasons, OGA was able to call the PENGUINS qualified for post-season play by the end of their 60th game. This means, even with those All-Star names, it is the team effort played against the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) we are measuring. And the PENS like to keep it close to the vest. Or is it a tuxedo jacket?

During the course of the 2007/8 NHL Season:
  • The PITTSBURGH PENGUINS finished +4.5 against the PQC
  • The PENGUINS finished 4th in the league on Power Play percentage (20.37%)
  • The PENGUINS finished 23rd in the league on Penalty Kill percentage (80.95%)
  • The team lost both their captain, Crosby and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to injury for sizeable portions of the season
  • The PENS advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost to the Detroit RedWings in 6 games
Having won the trade-deadline prize for Marion Hossa, the team certainly benefited from his scoring prowess in the final stretch and into the playoffs last season. But Hossa signed with the Cup Kissing Wings during the summer and he was not the only player to move on. In fact, 6 of the PENS’ top 12 scorers signed with different clubs during the summer and repeating last season’s success will require a healthy roster and perhaps a huge year from players like Pascal Dupuis, Maxime Talbot and maybe yet another rookie with high hopes, the Finnish Elite League scoring leader, Janne Pesonen.

For a recent twist, Sergei Gonchar will be out of the lineup for an expected 4-6 months after suffering ligament and cartilage damage on his first shift of the 08-09 pre-season and will require arthroscopic surgery. Ryan Whitney is also shelved until late in the season so the PENGUINS’ defense may be in some disarray this OCTOBER.

The PITTSBURGH PENGUINS are on an upwards trend towards dominance in the East and also against our OGA-developed Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC). At the end of the first 10-game segment, last season they were a + .5 when measured against the Curve. They slipped below by game 20 and then climbed up and above the Curve until the conclusions of the season. We expect another strong start this year but what should we expect per their performance as measured against the PQC?

(cont)…In the previous two seasons, the PITTSBURGH PENGUINS started strong over the boards and then immediately began to drop games. In both seasons (06-07 / 07-08) the PENGUINS found themselves at the lowest point below the OGA-developed Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) at the 20-game mark. This is the lowest they would play compared to the curve throughout either season. Over the three years since the lockout, they have averaged -2.3 against the PQC. The average is affected by their forgetful 05-06 season. See the chart below for the PENGUINS’ play in relation to the curve over the past three campaigns.

This season, the PITTSBURGH PENGUINS first 10 games of the season are played 4 OCTOBER – 28 OCTOBER. Our research indicates they earn a PQC rating of 5.3 during this time frame. Bear in mind the PENGUINS begin their 08-09 campaign in Europe this year and will have several days off after returning home in order to rest and reset the internal time clocks. Look for the excitement of playing in Europe as the Eastern Conference Champions and the 5 days off after their return home to help the team with a strong start this season.

Some statistics of note to manage your expectations in to late October are:
  • The PENGUINS may again display a dramatic shift against the PQC displaying a tendency to have a 2.02.5 point move between games 10 and 20.
  • The team’s 3-year per game averages: 3.12 GF and 3.16 GA
  • Post lockout, the PENGUINS’ record in the first 10-game segments is 13-11-6
  • The PENGUINS have lost 2 of its 3 season openers since the lockout
  • Of the six home/away openers over the last three years, PITTSBURGH has WON 2 of 3 home season openers and LOST 2 of 3 away season openers
  • PITTSBURGH has played a total of 62 games requiring either OT or a Shootout (25.20% of all regular season games).
OGA will be measuring the PENGUINS against their PQC Rating of 5.3 (as well as with all other NHL teams) in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with the PITTSBURGH PENGUINS Game 10 Report. The G10R will be delivered to our subscription customers by 2PM Central on 29 OCTOBER and available for purchase online by 2PM Central, 30 OCTOBER. See the OGA store for more details HERE. You can also view a sample for our G10R HERE. (Make sure to view all 3 tabs!)

There is not much differential in Goals For and Goals Against for PITTSBURGH and this will be an area of team focus, in particular as it relates to their Penalty Kill teams. The PENS have a good chance this year of improving their performance against the Curve but there will be some hills to climb with some early openings in the defense lineup and adjustments made up front to compensate for departed players like Hossa and Gary Roberts. They also finished last in the NHL on face-off percentage (.461) and must look to improve here if they hope to defend their conference title.

But don’t expect a repeat of the terrible 05-06 season where OGA saw the PENGUINS remove themselves from playoff contention by 12 DECEMBER 2005 (game 30). We made the call even though mathematical elimination did not occur until 1 FEBRUARY 2006 (game 53). Whether or not we see a repeat of last season and another chance for young Crosby to lift the Cup will depend upon how well the team adjusts to sizeable changes in the lineup and team chemistry.

OGA will be measuring their team performance against the PQC online and via our Game Reports available for purchase. For your best value, see our subscription information HERE. In the meantime, stay tuned to The OGA Blog and check out the PITTSBURGH PENGUINS G10R for a thorough review of the team’s performance as measured against our proprietary PQC.

Tomorrow we dip into the Shark Tank with the SAN JOSE SHARKSSPR. Remember, it’s only a puck until you take one in the teeth. Then, it’s a Frozen Pill.

Now, for a special treat today with Sid on the deflection...

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