Hope everyone has settled in for the final weekend of the regular season. It will be interesting to see how the Atlantic standings shake out by Sunday night.
I wanted to check in with an extra piece from practice during the week. As you may be aware, the Penguins post a yearly sheet back in the coaches’ area at the Toyota SportsPlex with team goals for each season. I happened to catch a glance at this year’s version the other day, so let’s see how Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has fared.
Stats are through Thursday, or the team’s first 73 games.
Goal: Power play at 20% or better
Actual: 13.8%, second last in the league
Goal: Penalty kill at 85% or better
Actual: 81.8% percent
Goal: Power play and penalty kill add up to 105%
For context, the desired power-play and penalty kill rates would both rank in the league’s top five.
Obviously, the Pens were far off in both categories. The penalty-kill percentage is a little deceiving, in my opinion, because Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has simply been shorthanded so many times during the season that opponents were bound to score.
The power play struggles have obviously been a common theme, but are turning around a little bit over the last week. That’s a good omen with Round 1 beginning next week.
Goal: Winning percentage above .600 (or 46 wins)
Actual: 43 wins
Goal: 2.3 goals-against per game (or 175 total)
Actual: 217 allowed
Goal: 3.15 goals for in each game (or 240 total)
Goal: 46 road points
Actual: 40 with three games remaining
Goal: 10 of 16 points on end of three-in-threes
Actual: 8 with one game remaining
Goal: 7-10 shutouts
Actual: 2 shutouts
Goal: Make the playoffs
Actual: In the playoffs
Obviously, the last one is most important and the Penguins did more than enough to get another run at the Cup.
The high number of goals allowed reflects the amount of penalty kills they’ve had and the turnover in net. It would also explain the amount of shutouts.
It appears they will be just a hair short of their magic number for road points, but here’s a more positive spin on it: Their points percentage on the road is actually second best in the division. They’ve lost six road games in overtime or a shootout as well. If two or three of those swing the other way, they’re pretty much right on target.
The offense, meanwhile, is even better than last year’s — which is important to note considering one of the knocks on this team at various times throughout the year has been it isn’t scoring enough. That’s also without the services of Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon for most of the season.
So, what does this mean? The Penguins are seemingly on the verge of being playoff ready. They’ve got a goaltender — Tristan Jarry — getting in rhythm to carry the load, while the power-play is starting to turn around. If they can limit their penalties, they can beat any team in the Atlantic.