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By the Numbers: Avalanche at Penguins, Game 31

It was good until.......

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

SteveHouse Game Recap: Colorado absolutely handled their own when this game started. The first period was solid, if a little boring, with shot totals inflated by the power play. The second period was like a Western shootout, and then the third period, *fart*.

I was curious to see how such a thing could happen. So i started by splitting the team performances out by period. War on Ice lets you do that now within games and it's really great. Stick taps, hat tips, and good-game butt pats to them. Here's what I found.

(If you can't read the little words educate yourself on how to blow a webpage up.)

So the giant refusal to ever possess the puck can be blamed on those guys with disproportionately huge purple bars. That's where we start.

MacKinnon, O'Reilly, and Landeskog were primarily matched up in this game against the Malkin line. There was a long terrible shift where they faced both Malkin's and Crosby's line, but it was usually Malkin's. On defense they saw Kris Letang and Paul Martin for all the first two periods... then in the third, they saw Rob Scuderi and Simon Despres. I think. There's a lot of really short shifts in the third period and war on ice's shift chart is harder to interpret accurately than ShiftChart's (pbuh) was.

Our next major culprits are Zach Redmond and Brad Stuart. All game long, they primarily faced the Malkin line. There is no clear and apparent adjustment in the third here, so it seems reasonable to assume they were victims of circumstance since they were fine for forty minutes.

Duchene, Tanguay, and Iginla are next. They saw some Malkin but mostly Crosby. Their shifts in the third period were also clearly shorter than were the O'Reilly line's. I checked: Duchene's line had zero offensive zone starts in the third (O'Reilly's had 3 of the team's 4) so they probably either gave up quick shots into the black hole in Calvin Pickard's pads, or exited and changed. Duchene's line saw a pretty mixed bag of opposing defenders, including most of Christian Ehrhoff's shifts (Ehrhoff missed the second and third). In the second they mainly saw Scuderi and Despres, and the third is just a mess to look at.

I believe the different matchups Pittsburgh ran out there made the difference in this game. It makes no sense to me that half the Avalanche would suddenly turn into pumpkins all at the same time. Roy responded by putting one of his quick offensive lines into the Stastny Zone and refusing to start them within shouting distance of Marc-Andre Fleury (who was very good himself in this game, don't forget).

So what I see, and feel free to explain why this conclusion isn't accurate, was a Penguins team that knew what they wanted to do, and when it wasn't working out, changed their matchups to something that was more effective.

Colorado had no response. Line matching is super tough for the road team, especially when you never have the puck, so while it looks like a solid outcoaching it's difficult to really say that for sure. The home team wins more often than not for a reason.

Odds and Ends

  • Calvin Pickard's shirts never wrinkle
  • Calvin Pickard's business card says "I'll call you"
  • The police questioned Calvin Pickard just to ask how he stopped 47 of 48 shots
  • Calvin Pickard is allowed on the grass
  • Panhandlers give Calvin Pickard money
  • "I don't always play in the NHL, but when I do, I prefer goals for please." -Calvin Pickard