The panic level is high for the Pittsburgh Penguins right now, but there’s a reason to look on the bright side beyond hoping for improved health.
Simply put, the Penguins’ have experienced ridiculously poor puck luck since things really went off the rails starting on March 14. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Jason Mackey did some number-crunching to see that their shooting percentage is a pitiful 4.5 during that span, easily the worst in the league. Their average over the entire season is 8.6, so that’s a huge drop-off when you consider how many pucks go on net each game.
(Sunday’s unsettling loss to the Philadelphia Flyers is one of the best examples; they only managed to score against Steve Mason one time despite firing 47 shots on goal. That’s a shooting percentage of a little more than two.)
Here are Mackey’s tweets on the subject:
Injuries play into this too, of course, as Mackey also points out that the Penguins’ tough run lately:
Some might roll their eyes at this and consider it an exercise in excuse-making.
The more interesting consideration, however, is to imagine how dangerous Pittsburgh could be if the Penguins merely get a fair number of bounces and a decent bill of health in a playoff series … assuming, of course, that they can make it.
The good news health-wise is that Evgeni Malkin looked spry in his Sunday return, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out that Kris Letang may only begin working out on an exercise bike this week, so the health part of that equation seems to be a work in progress.
Still, as much as this Penguins team is struggling, they may be a tougher out than their 3-8-1 record since March 14 may indicate.