Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pens-Caps Preview: Some fun numbers on just how bad the Pens' bottom 6 will be tonight

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Brandon Sutter is going to get a shot playing wing on Sidney Crosby's line tonight.  Part of me -- a large part -- wonders whether this is an effort by Dan Bylsma to prevent Sutter from achieving his second 11-game goalless streak of the season tonight, and thereby be only one additional 11-game goalless streak away from handing me a victory in what would be my single greatest prediction: taking Brandon Sutter to go over 2.5 11-game goalless streaks this season.  There are two ways to view this move: 1) it's an effort to maximize the Crosby-Kunitz line; or 2) it's an indictment of Sutter's ability to anchor his own line.  You can probably guess which camp I fall into (though I acknowledge that his line-mates on said 3rd line would be awful).

But speaking of awful, and in what is in some bizarre way a compliment to Sutter, the Pens' Sutterless bottom 6 tonight has the potential to be among the least effective bottom 6's in Penguins history.  The third line tonight (third line!!!) is Tanner Glass-Nick Drazenovic-Craig Adams.  The fourth line is Taylor Pyatt-Zach Sill-Deryk Engellend.

Just how unproductive are these guys?

Zach Sill has no points in 18 games.

Nick Drazenovich has 0 points in 11 games and sounds like a bad guy on 24.

Out for Jack Bauer's blood.
Among all Eastern Conference forwards who have played at least 12 games and actually scored a point this season, Taylor Pyatt scores the fewest of them per minute played: 1 point in 335 minutes of ice time.  Put another way, if he played 20 minutes per night at this pace, he would average one point every 16.75 games.  Or to put it yet another way, if he played 20 minutes a night every night over the course of an 82 game season at this same pace, he would finish the season -- FINISH THE SEASON -- with fewer than 5 points!

Of all Eastern Conference forwards who have played at least 37 games this season, Craig Adams is the sixth least productive point-producer, trailing guys like Peter Regin, Cal Clutterbuck, and Radek Dvorak, who everyone had just assumed retired 6 years ago, but is now on his 9th team.

By the so-called advanced statistics, Tanner Glass is the single biggest drag on his team's puck possession in the entire NHL.

And Deryk Engelland is a defenseman, for God's sake.

It's gotten to the point where it's kind of hilarious that the Pens trot these guys out there, get almost nothing from them offensively, but still lead the division by 16 points.  It's a testament to how good the top 6 has been and, I'll happily concede, to the fact that some of these guys (like Craig Adams) contribute value to the team in a lot of ways beyond the score-sheet.

But the fact remains that we may be witnessing an historic disparity between one half of a team and the other half of the same team.  Watching Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz and Neal dazzle tonight against a very soft defense is going to be like watching James Tissot paint "The Fan."

Watching the bottom 6 might be like watching shit hit it.

Go Pens.

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