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Insider Only Penguins – Blue Jackets Fallout: Analytics don’t meet the eye test

Penguins – Blue Jackets Fallout

Statement game from the Penguins in Tuesday Night’s 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets?

The eye test says yes, the analytics say no.

One analytic site’s model says the Penguins should have lost 3-2.

Columbus had a 39-27 edge in shots and a massive +30 (60-30) edge in 5 vs 5 shot attempts. Other positives for Columbus, they limited Sidney Crosby to being on the ice for just 6 Shot Attempts For at even strength and nearly every Penguins line/D-pair was bleeding shot attempts against.

The underlying numbers strongly favored the Blue Jackets and a growing trend for the injury ravished Penguins is getting out-corsied on a nightly basis. Will that eventually catch up to the Penguins?

This was a game, though, where the possession numbers don’t tell much of the story.

The Penguins felt in control of the game from the get-go. Columbus was held without a shot for the first seven minutes of the period, were out-chanced 7-2 through the first 15 minutes of play and early on the Blue Jackets took two penalties.

Pittsburgh had some glorious chances to break the game wide open in the first, highlighted by Conor Sheary getting rob with a glove side from Sergei Bobrovsky on the man advantage.

When Columbus began tilting the ice in a big way in the second period, Pittsburgh then answered with Matt Murray taking control of the game.

Pittsburgh had an answer all game for the Blue Jackets. They came out dictating the play with their speed and then handed the game over to Murray.

In a results business, Pittsburgh outscored Columbus 4-0 at even strength, three goals at 5 vs 5, one at 4 vs 4.

Pittsburgh’s best players also produced, despite playing more of the night in the other end.

Jake Guentzel a goal and assist, Sidney Crosby a two assist game.

And then there’s the fourth line of Scott Wilson – Carter Rowney – Josh Archibald.

They all had terrible possession numbers. Wilson and Archibald at 24% (7/22).

Yet, both had impactful games offensively.

Off a turnover, the line produced a first period goal with Carter Rowney redirecting a Scott Wilson shot from the corner.

The speed element from Josh Archibald had the line creating chances as Pittsburgh is getting more of a speed presence with Archibald in the lineup compared to playing Oskar Sundqvist last week.

One negative for the Penguins was getting banged around as Matt Cullen and Bryan Rust each left the game due to injuries.

Matt Cullen took a hard clean hit from Scott Hartnell where Cullen ducked to avoid the hit and got his head rung.

CBJ in deep trouble if Werenski, Murray are not ready next week

— Coming in this game was more about the Blue Jackets than the Penguins. Pittsburgh had an opportunity to plant a seed into the head of the reeling Blue Jackets who have now lost four in a row and can’t put the puck in the net.

And what did we learn from last night?

The Penguins can beat the Blue Jackets in a first round series with or without Kris Letang.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets have no shot to beat the Penguins four out of seven times if defensemen Zach Werenski and Ryan Murray are not healthy for the post-season.

While the Blue Jackets may still play a dump and chase game with some of their lines, the resurgence they’ve had this season has been fueled by their blue line in quickly turning defense into offense. It was lost last night. Despite a lot of the numbers favoring them, they had no transition game.

Last night Columbus dressed:

Scott Harrington – Seth Jones
Kyle Quincey – Jack Johnson
Markus Nutivaara – David Savard

The belief is Werenski and Murray will be back but with the Penguins expecting to have Malkin back, it would be matchup galore favoring the Penguins if Werenski and Murray are out. 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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