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31 in 31

Pittsburgh Penguins key statistics

Crosby's impact magnified since Sullivan took over as coach in 2015

by Rob Vollman / Correspondent is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Pittsburgh Penguins. 


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1. Sidney Crosby's impact

It's hard to find a single statistic that best represents what Crosby means to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's the captain, plays big minutes, takes on top opponents in both zones, drives possession, and factors into the NHL scoring race every season.

However, Crosby's impact is quantified. It has been magnified under coach Mike Sullivan, who replaced Mike Johnston on Dec. 12, 2015. Since then, Crosby leads the NHL with 155 points (74 goals, 81 assists) in 127 regular-season games. His 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists) in 48 Stanley Cup Playoff games are tied with teammate Evgeni Malkin (16 goals, 30 assists).

The Penguins have outshot their opponents 2,079-1,622 at 5-on-5 with Crosby on the ice for an SAT of plus-457, seventh in the NHL in that span.


2. New No. 1 goalie

Goalie Matt Murray takes some of the edge off the loss of Marc-Andre Fleury to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.

In the past three seasons, Murray's .925 save percentage ranks second to Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens (.929) among goalies who played at least 50 games.

Though some goalies can have their numbers boosted by outside factors, that's not the case with Murray. There are a variety of ways that save percentage can be adjusted for variables such as manpower situation and shot location. But in each case, Murray's save percentage remains in the NHL's top three.

Manpower-adjusted save percentage (MASP) assumes a League-average ratio of shots at even-strength, on the power play and the penalty kill. From this perspective, Murray's save percentages of .933, .899 and .887 work out to an MASP of .925, which is second to Price (.929).

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3. Optimized deployment

A key factor in the Penguins' success has been placing skilled players into the right roles. A good example is defenseman Justin Schultz, who was acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 27, 2016.

Schultz struggled to that point of his NHL career. He had 101 points (28 goals, 73 assists) in 248 games, 40th among NHL defensemen in that span, and his minus-78 ranked last. Since being acquired by the Penguins, Schultz has 59 points (13 goals, 46 assists) in 96 games and is plus-34, which rank 10th and sixth.

The key was to transition Schultz into a more offensive-minded assignment. Since joining the Penguins, he has started 529 of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone and 408 in the defensive zone for a zone-start percent of 56.46 that ranks first among the eight Penguins defensemen to have played at least 20 games. His average of 2:40 per game on the power play is second to Kris Letang (3:48) and his average of 0:03 killing penalties ranks last. 

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