Friday, April 11, 2008

#94: Roberts Provides Jump Start

---Energy to Spare---

Did anyone miss Gary Roberts?

The Ottawa Senators sure didn't.

A man who has historically haunted the Senators in playoffs past wasted no time in continuing his dominance while making most Penguin fans forget that he was ever hurt.

The Penguins have been missing the "man-in-front" element of their offense for much of the season. Roberts cleaned up some trash less than 2 minutes into the game.

A little backhanded trick he learned in 1954.

Not only were the Senators not prepared for Roberts, they were no match for an Evgeni Malkin/Petr Sykora 2-on-1.

You're supposed to defend against the pass.

The game was pretty much over, but Malkin continues his push to become the best player on the team.

Almost Roberts-esque.

Ottawa had no defense for that "guy parked in front", seemingly all night. Roberts one-ups the upstart Malkin.

He was just in his neighborhood.

Why Gerber contested the goal so vehemently was a bit confusing to me. There was no chance of a comeback that late in the game. Perhaps it was just to improve his line?

Anyway, the Sens started taking some cheap shots at Roberts at the end of a fracas-filled game. Most of my regular readers know that I'm not a fan of hockey fighting, and that I know I'm in the minority when it comes to that, but if there's a forward in the league you don't want to mess with, it's Gary Roberts.

A playoff virgin by the name of Cody Bass tried to get the last word.

If he's serious, he should change his name to "Brass". Or "Balls."
If he's just posing, he should change his name to "Mudd".

The Penguins dominated by the score of 4-0, which, at this pace, looks like it might also be the final series tally.

I hope that fan isn't pondering an answer that question.
It was definitively answered.


Frequent reader/commenter karri asked about other statistics other than Shots-on-Goal Differential (SOGD) making a difference. Specifically (and you can tell she's been reviewing my previous posts), she mentioned Scoring Efficiency and Save Percentage.

The Penguins ended the season 3rd best in overall Scoring Efficiency (10.58 percent), and 4th best in team Save Percentage (91.6 percent). That was key in offsetting the 4th-worst SOGD (-3.1), and granting them 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference.

Their counterpart in the Western Conference (2nd-seeded San Jose), had the opposite issue:

Their SOGD was tied for 2nd best (with the New York Rangers) at +5.5.

However, their team Save Percentage was 15th overall (90.5 percent) and they were 22nd in Scoring Efficiency (8.89 percent).

Here's why I continue to stress SOGD over the other two statistics (although they are important in determining why a team with a negative SOGD is winning games):

Vancouver had a better Save Percentage (91.3 percent) and better Scoring Efficiency (9.16 percent) than the top two seeds in the West (Detroit and San Jose) Their SOGD for the season was -1.4, far worse than either of the top seeds, putting them in a 3-way tie for 9th, and three points back of Nashville for the final spot.

Goalies and Goal Scorers get hot and cold in stretches. In the midst of a best-of-7 series, a cold streak by either would be enough to eliminate any team. By continuing to get pucks to the net, a team can simultaneously keep pressure on the opposing goalie and keeping that pressure off their own netminder. And more shots gives more of a chance for a fluke goal.

Remember, in the last ten years (perhaps further back), no team with a negative SOGD has won the Stanley Cup. That doesn't mean there aren't some series victories in store for a team in that situation.

The Penguins could be a special case because they have been without key personnel all season, and they are getting healthy at the right time. Unfortunately for Ottawa, the reverse has happened.

And another possibility, should the Pens or another "negative" team win it all, is the new rules in hockey since the lockout. Two-line passes during odd man breaks have helped open this thing up, so if you get a couple of odd man breaks, it could be the difference between losing 2-1 and winning 3-2.

Given the Penguins performance Wednesday night, where they handily won the Shots-on-Goal battle, getting Gary Roberts back might be enough to turn the tide and help the Penguins buck this very strong statistical trend.

We will, of course, find out more as the postseason continues and the Penguins opponents get better.


Blogger karri said...

Really awesome post...

SOG - 4/9/08
Pens:35 Sens:26
Pens win 4 - 0

SOG - 4/11/08
Pens:54 Sens:30
Pens win 5 - 3

I'm liking those stats...They may not all have been good scoring chances, but just the fact that the Pens are shooting on net this much is very encouraging to me.

...and you gotta love Gary Roberts. He amazes me.

4/12/2008 2:46 AM  

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