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Insider Only Off-Day Buzz: Letang Hit, Diving into the Possession #’s from Game 3, Malkin’s Deployment, Impact of Rust Injury

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Off-Day Buzz & Game 3 Fall Out

Kris Letang will have a phone hearing at 1:00 p.m. with the NHL Department of Player Safety, meaning if he is suspended it will be for five games or less.


It was a hit that was unnecessary, one that I don’t like, but it’s still one that could go either way with it being regarded as only 0.63 seconds late. Based strictly on the rules, there’s an argument to be made from both sides.

The NHL Department of Player Safety have a tendency to base a suspension on whether a player is injured or not. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise the Capitals announced this morning that Marcus Johansson will not practice and is out with an upper body injury. Smart tactic from them.

One NHL source in the know I spoke with believes the determining factor isn’t going to be by how late the hit was, but whether the NHL Department of Player Safety deems that Johansson was defense-less and deliberately targeted.

Thinking here is they will that will result in a suspension.

Game 3 Fallout: The Possession Numbers

When you get out-attempted 85-36 and are minus-33 in 5 v 5 shot attempts, there are going to be some pretty bad possession numbers individually and there sure were for the Penguins in Game 3.

What a missed opportunity for Washington when you have Kris Letang a rare team-worst minus-20 in on-ice shot attempt differential. Letang, though, was on the ice for two goals against.

Better to be lucky than good?

Tom Kuhnhackl who is minus-71 in the playoffs in Corsi For percentage, was on the ice for one shot attempt in the entire game, the goal that bounced off him and into the net.

Some interesting numbers from Game 3?

From a driving possession standpoint, the Nick Bonino line had a clear edge vs the Kuznetsov line in the first two games. The tables were turned in Game 3 with Bonino on the ice for 4 shot attempts and 14 against when going head-to-head with Kuznetsov.

But, it was the Bonino line that would deliver the game winning goal against the Kuznetsov line.

Derrick Pouliot who had some shaky moments early defensively, was the Penguins only defenseman to be at 50% in on-ice Corsi Percentage. He was on the ice for 45% of the Penguins 5 v 5 shot attempts.

The controlled exits were strong from Pouliot and while a small sample, when Pouliot was on ice the against the Capitals top-2 line centers, (Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov) the Penguins drove possession (11/9) on 55% of their shot attempts. By comparison, per War-on-Ice — Letang played over 16 minutes combined (5 v 5) against Backstrom and Kuznetsov. The Penguins only drove possession on 25% (10/29) of their shot attempts when Letang was on the ice against 19 or 92 —

Evgeni Malkin’s Deployment

Evgeni Malkin saw the seventh most ice-time among forwards at even strength in Game 2. In Game 3, he saw the 9th most minutes (12:00) with the only forwards playing less 5 v 5 being Nick Bonino, Tom Kuhnhackl and Bryan Rust who played one shift.

Overall Malkin played just 15:47, the sixth lowest minutes of his playoff career. Per Bob Grove, four of Malkin’s career low minutes in a playoff game have come during this post-season with Mike Sullivan behind the bench.

Word around the team continues to be that Sullivan doesn’t trust Malkin defensively late in games. If that’s the truth, still have to question having Phil Kessel out in the final minute of last night’s game when the Penguins were protecting a two-goal lead and the Kessel line was bleeding shot attempts all game.

Sidney Crosby has been getting on average around 4 minutes more of ice time at even strength than Malkin during the playoffs. Game 3, though, was more about shift length than anything.

In the third period, Crosby had 9 shifts, Malkin 8 shifts with Crosby having 5 shifts in the final 10 minutes, Malkin 4 shifts.

Averaged shift length in the game, Crosby 49 seconds, Malkin 41 seconds.

Impact of Rust Injury

Bryan Rust left the arena last night Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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