Montreal's Carey Price was the latest goalie this season to negate a shot advantage by the Penguins.

More Shots Not Always Enough

After the Penguins made Carey Price look like a perennial Vezina contender Thursday night in Montreal, I got to thinking. How many times has this happened already this season? By “this” I mean those games where the Pens outshoot their opponent to no avail. Either the other team’s goalie stands on his head for 60 minutes or Pittsburgh just can’t capitalize and put the puck in the net.

So I did some research (shocking, I know). The Pens have lost 16 games this season – 12 in regulation, 4 in OT or shootout. In those 16 defeats, they outshot their opponent 14 times. That’s right – only twice has the winning team had more shots than Pittsburgh.

Date                      Shots (Pens-Opponent)                             Result

Oct. 7                     31-27                                                                  3-2 L, Flyers
Oct. 9                     38-27                                                                  3-2 L, Habs
Oct. 13                   25-14                                                                  4-3 L, Leafs
Oct. 23                   31-24                                                                 1-0 OTL, Blues
Oct. 27                   31-30                                                                  5-3 L, Lightning
Oct. 29                   28-24                                                                  3-2 L, Flyers
Nov. 3                    23-29**                                                               5-2 L, Stars
Nov. 5                    39-19                                                                  3-2 L, Ducks
Nov. 10                  46-32                                                                  7-4 L, Bruins
Nov. 15                   39-25                                                                 3-2 OTL, Rangers
Dec. 14                   23-27**                                                              3-2 L, Flyers
Dec. 15                   28-22                                                                  4-1 L, Rangers
Dec. 26                   45-24                                                                  3-1 L, Senators
Dec. 29                    38-26                                                                 2-1 OTL, Islanders
Jan. 1                        33-32                                                                 3-1 L, Caps
Jan. 6                       32-23                                                                  2-1 OTL, Habs

So, what’s it all mean? Well, it could just be a statistical anomaly that doesn’t really deserve further analysis. But let’s ignore that theory for a moment and take a closer look.

One, the Pens are playing solid defensive hockey. They’re allowing fewer than 26 shots on goal in their losses. Two, the Pens are getting pucks to the net at all costs. They’re averaging more than 32 1/2 shots per game even in defeat. Some of the losses, particularly early in the season, can be attributed to Marc-Andre Fleury’s struggles; others to stellar  play by the opposing goaltender.

Nine of the Pens’ 12 regulation losses have been by one or two goals. They’ve only been “blown out” (three-goal margin) three times. Bottom line, these numbers are indicative of a solid hockey team. The Pens seldom have a “terrible” game, and they’re playing good enough to win in most of their losses. I’m not declaring the Pens the Eastern Conference favorite at this point (they’re not the only team playing well), but you have to like what you’ve seen thus far.

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