The Penguins were badly outshot during their Stanley Cup run. Here’s because they won anyway.


Phil Kessel of a Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with a Stanley Cup. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second true championship Sunday night after blanking a Nashville Predators, 2-0, creation a Penguins a initial back-to-back Stanley Cup leader in a income tip epoch and a initial given a Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

You could disagree a Penguins survived, rather than won, a playoffs. Pittsburgh mislaid a tip defenseman, Kris Letang, to damage before a playoffs began. Goaltender Matt Murray missed a initial dual rounds of a playoffs before creation 27 saves in a series-clinching win in Game 6, his second true shutout. Center Nick Bonino postulated a damaged tibia in his left leg during Game 2 of a array restraint a slap shot from P.K. Subban in a initial period.

Yet Coach Mike Sullivan stranded with his diversion devise that authorised a Penguins to gain on chances notwithstanding mostly examination their opponents dominate possession. The tip was making certain his forwards, rather than a team’s defensemen, were putting peculiarity shots on net. And as we can see clearly after back-to-back Cups, shot peculiarity has trumped shot quantity.

After adjusting for special teams and lead-protecting situations, a Penguins put only 47.5 percent of shot attempts in their preference during this championship run, a lowest of any Cup leader given 2010. That forsaken to 45 percent during a Stanley Cup Finals. But a Penguins managed to modify 10.7 percent of their shots during even strength, some-more that double a rate Nashville put pucks in a net, mostly due to Pittsburgh’s blue liners creation passes to any other before chipping a puck in so one of a forwards can put a high-quality possibility on net.

The Penguins defensemen averaged 1.17 shots per game, a third-lowest in a postseason behind a Chicago Blackhawks (1.16) and Boston Bruins (1.11), dual teams that were bounced in a initial round. By carrying their defenseman concentration on passing, rather than shooting, a Penguins discharge low-quality indicate shots in preference of attempts in a container or crease, areas with most aloft contingency of scoring.

During a playoffs, Pittsburgh attempted 127 shots off backhands, deflections, tip-ins and hang arounds, 38 some-more than Nashville. That disproportion was roughly wholly combined in a Stanley Cup Finals, where a Penguins attempted 32 shots in this fashion, scoring 6 times compared to a Predators’ two.


(naturalstattrick.com)

And this isn’t only because Letang, who averaged scarcely 3 shots per diversion before removing harmed this season, was taken — this is a approach Sullivan chooses to run his offense. Below are feverishness maps of shots taken during even strength during a unchanging deteriorate when Letang was on a ice for Pittsburgh alongside a same visible for when Subban, Nashville’s tip descent defenseman, is on a ice. Notice how many some-more shot attempts are constructed by a Penguins in a container and nearby a double with Letang skating as against to a Predators with Subban, illustrating because Pittsburgh can still outscore opponents interjection to high-quality chances notwithstanding not sloping a ice even half of a time.


Shot rates with Kris Letang (left) and P.K. Subban (right) on a ice during even strength during a 2016-17 unchanging season. (hockeyviz.com)

Traffic in front also helps when Pittsburgh does confirm to put adult a slap shot from one a defenseman — a Penguins converted those attempts 11.4 percent of a time, double a rate of other teams in a playoffs (5.2 percent).

Good fitness perplexing to replicate a talent turn found on this year’s Penguins, though if a group is looking to obey what done Pittsburgh successful, it can start by tying a shot attempts by their blue liners in preference of aloft peculiarity chances by a forwards.

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