Tag: penalty minutes

Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows

Interesting stats and facts from Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals

After two very tight games in Vancouver, the 2011 Stanley Cup finals really took a turn toward the ugly during Game 3 in Boston. The penalty box attendants were busier than they have been in decades of finals series while the red light went on over and over again for the Bruins.

NHL.com collected some interesting numbers from Game 3 and the series in general in two different stories.

Perhaps the most interesting fact comes from this article, which points out that last night’s contest featured the most penalty minutes in a Stanley Cup finals game since the last time the Bruins appeared in 1990. It’s unclear how many were taken during that Bruins-Edmonton Oilers series in ’90 (feel free to share that fact in the comments), but last night’s game included 70 minutes for the Vancouver Canucks and 75 for the Bruins, totaling 145 PIM overall.

Going further, John Kreiser compiled a list of other stats and interesting tidbits from the game and the series overall. You can read all of them here, but these are some of the highlights. I’ll add some commentary and our own stats when appropriate.

1 — Combined first-period goals by the Canucks and Bruins in the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. The teams went scoreless on 19 shots in the first period of Game 3, and goaltenders Roberto Luongo of Vancouver and Tim Thomas of Boston have combined to stop 69 of 70 first-period shots thus far in the series.

Even Game 3 featured a strong start for both goalies. Luongo has been strong in some serious penalty killing predicaments, shutting down a lengthy 5-on-3 power play and double-minor in Game 1 and that five-minute major in Game 3.

5 — Games played by the Bruins this spring that have been decided by three or more goals. Boston has won four — the first three came in Games 1, 3 and 4 during Boston’s four-game sweep of Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Their only three-goal loss was 5-2 to Tampa Bay in the opener of the conference finals.

7 — Goals in the margin of victory, the most in a Stanley Cup Final game in exactly 15 years. Colorado beat Florida 8-1 in Game 2 of the 1996 Final on June 6, 1996.

While it’s a small sample, it seems like the Bruins are more comfortable in wide-open games. Every now and then, Luongo & Co. simply let a game get away from them. That was especially clear in Game 3 and some of the lower moments of the Canucks’ first round series against the Blackhawks.

9 — Games during this year’s playoff in which the Bruins have won after scoring first, as they did it Game 3 They’ve lost only once — in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay.

It’s a bit surprising that the Bruins have been so comfortable in high-scoring games, but their track record of success after taking 1-0 leads was easy to see coming.

10 — Times in which the Bruins have won despite being outshot by their opponents during this year’s playoffs. Boston is now 10-4 when being outshot.

If you want a sign of how resilient this Bruins team has been, that stat might be the best way of showing it. Of course, ultimately, the most important numbers are 2-1, the Canucks’ series lead. We’ll see if Boston can carry the momentum earned from Game 3 or if Vancouver can take a stranglehold on the SCF with a Game 4 win.

Dan Bylsma transformed the Pittsburgh Penguins from a finesse team to a fighting bunch


In my mind’s eye, the Pittsburgh Penguins will always be a finesse team. Back in the Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr Era, their teams were typically explosive on offense and soft on defense*, making them an adventure to watch on both ends of the ice.

* Aside from a few dirty hitters such as Ulf Samuelsson and one of my childhood favorites, Darius Kasparaitis.

Yet ever since current head coach Dan Bylsma took the mantle from Michel Therrien, the Penguins rapidly transformed from a cute and cuddly group into a rugged team that can go toe-to-toe with their cross-state rivals in Philadelphia. Another big thematic change came when the team traded downy soft offensive defenseman to Anaheim for forechecking demon Chris Kunitz. Although Kunitz isn’t a consistent fighter, his addition signaled that the Penguins would morph into a club that is uncomfortable to play against.

In fact, Puck Daddy points out the fact that the Pens are among the league leaders in fighting majors, lead the league in total penalties and rank second in total penalty minutes.

The question remains: is their newfound toughness a good thing? From the most basic standpoint, the mindset brings heightened security for stars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin while conversely increasing the number of penalties the team must kill. Greg Wyshynski studied season-to-season results and didn’t find a conclusive trend while Seth Rorabaugh wonders if it’s such a good thing.

That’s all good and well, but is it becoming a problem? Leading the league in times shorthanded isn’t exactly a good thing. Granted, when you have the top-ranked penalty kill in the NHL, the severity of that issue is lessened, but that’s still a lot of time the Penguins have to spend playing defense for the most part. It’s also lot of time their two best players – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – are likely to ride the bench.

And while their penalty kill is obviously excellent, it’s not dangerous the same way the Flyers’ is with the scoring abilities of Mike Richards or Claude Giroux.

So are the Penguins better off playing their old, borderline pacifistic style or are they better off taking the good and bad that comes with getting into a lot of scuffles? Let us know in the comments.