How do the Pittsburgh Penguins look after the first 10 games of their 2019-20 season?
All things considered, the Pittsburgh Penguins have to be pretty pleased with a 6-4-0 record to begin the 2019-20 campaign. Life without Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad, and Bryan Rust is not fun, and it appears all four forwards will make their returns in the next couple of weeks.
While ten games is a small sample size, we are going to evaluate the performance of the Penguins at both a team and individual level. Per Natural Stat Trick, they have generated the following underlying stats. All stats are at even strength.
- 51.72% of the even-strength shot attempts (11th)
- 50.36% of the even-strength scoring chances (15th)
- 55.32% of the even-strength goals (ninth)
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Factoring in the injuries and a difficult stretch of the schedule where the Penguins played host to three contenders, that is is pretty impressive.
On the individual player end of it, Zach Aston-Reese has had a strong start to the season. The Penguins are taking 55% of the shots and have a 55% expected goals rate in the 119 even-strength minutes ZAR has played up this point. He has three even strength points and his underlying metrics indicate he is due for some puck luck.
With Aston-Reese on the ice, the Penguins have a 6.78% shooting percentage. That is tied for the lowest on the team. His PDO (on-ice shooting + save percentage) is also amongst the lowest on the team. He hit a post last night against the Panthers. Overall, the process has been really good, and I expect better results to follow soon enough.
Teddy Blueger and Brandon Tanev appear to have some chemistry together to this point. With this duo on the ice, the Penguins have the puck more times than not. They are generating the majority of the attempts, shots, and chances. There was a significant difference in Tanev’s numbers with and without Adam Lowry in Winnipeg last season so this could be an important development for the Penguins.
The quality of a player’s teammates is always an important evaluation factor. Tanev is tied for second in the NHL with seven penalties drawn. This has been a strength of his throughout his career. Ultimately, the early returns on the Penguins fourth line indicate a significant upgrade over Matt Cullen from last season.
John Marino appears to look the part in terms of becoming a regular on the Penguins blueline. To this point, the data does not necessarily back that up, but this is where context is important. Jack Johnson and Marino have been the Penguins’ third most common defense pair this season. The results are underwhelming, as the team has generated 41% of the shot attempts, 32% of the shots, and have been on the ice for zero goals for and three goals against.
We all know Johnson is a human anchor. To nobody’s surprise, Marino’s numbers improve in the 61 minutes he has spent away from Johnson. If Pittsburgh can find a serviceable third pair left side defensemen, I feel that would give us a more accurate assessment of John Marino.In the clip below, you will see some of the potential in Marino that I am referring too.
The fact that the Penguins have kept him up here and used a nine-defenseman rotation tells me that Marino is here to stay.
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It is important to reiterate that all of this comes in a small sample size of just 10 games. However, there has been more good than bad for the Penguins thus far. Considering the circumstances, they are in good shape. I still feel that Pittsburgh is still a top-six winger and third-pair defenseman away from becoming legitimate contenders once again. Thanks for reading!