By: Casey Johnston (@CaseyR82)
Last Game for the Penguins: Saturday, a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens scored the first three goals, two from Max Pacioretty and one from Tomas Plekanec, before the Penguins could answer. James Neal scored twice to bring the game within one, but the Penguins could not tie it up. Neal ended his night with a hooking call in the offensive zone with ten seconds remaining. Marc-Andre Fleury had a 26 save performance while his counterpart, Carey Price, made 29 saves. This loss ended the Penguins’ three-game winning streak.
Last Game for the Bruins: Saturday, a 3-2 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bruins and Hurricanes would trade goals in the first period and then again in the second and third periods before David Krejci scored his fourth goal of the year to give the Bruins the win. Chad Johnson made 22 saves for the Bruins while Cam Ward stopped 35 shots for the Hurricanes.
Last Time These Two Teams Met: October 30, 2013. The Penguins beat the Bruins 3-2. The game remained scoreless until 6:54 of the second period when Chris Kunitz scored on the power play. Boston would not answer until a minute in to the third period when Patrice Bergeron scored his third goal of the year. The Penguins would get two more goals from Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen. Jarome Iginla brought the game to within one with less than two minutes remaining. The Penguins held on to win their second of a four-game winning streak. Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves while Tuukka Rask made 28.
Last 10 Games for the Penguins: 5-5.
Last 10 Games for the Bruins: 7-1-2.
Story of the Game: After averaging 3.15 goals per game in the month of October the Penguins have slowed down in November, averaging only 2.54 goals per game. The dip in goals saw the Penguins go from a record of 9-4 in October to 6-5 thus far in November. What is the cause of this scoring drought and how does the team fix it? After their 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on November 9th, Tanner Glass said:
“Some nights we don’t mentally have it. It’s concerning. We were playing well, carrying the play, then our second period was so subpar. The execution of our plan was poor. To me, that’s not a resilient team or a team that’s confident when it’s down by two.”
Numbers support Glass’ assertion that the Penguins do not serve themselves well when down by a goal or more. When the Penguins score first they are 12-1; when their opponent scores first they are 3-8. That ranks the Penguins 16th in the league when not scoring first, worst of any of the four divisional leaders. In fact, every division’s second place team, and every third place team except the Rangers, has a better record when not scoring first.
The numbers get worse for the Penguins as the game goes on. They are undefeated when leading after the first period and 10-1 when winning after the second. However, they are 1-3 when trailing after the first period and 1-6 when trailing after the second. Glass says the team lacks confidence when down by two goals and the shot numbers support that. If you look at the Penguins Corsi (all shot attempts, including missed and blocked shots) for five-on-five play per 60 minutes, they have a rating of 58.8 when up by one goal, 54.9 when tied, and 59.6 when down by one goal. When their opponent puts that two goal cushion between them, their shot attempts drop to 42.2. It is still early, but these are not encouraging numbers for the Penguins.
Penguins All-Time Record Against the Bruins: 66-100-21-3.
Player to Watch on the Penguins: Brandon Sutter has three goals in his last four regular season games against the Bruins.
Player to Watch on the Bruins: Patrice Bergeron has four points (1g-3a) in his last four regular season games against the Penguins.