Experts have been trying to 'explain' what is different about the Pittsburgh Penguins after the coaching change. The attempts have been embarrassing, just flat out embarrassing. Watching the 'Rivalry Night' Chicago game was just cringe worthy, the inability for the panel and the in game analysts to actually provide any meaningful context or insight into the difference of the Penguins play is a negative that does not help move the NHL on ice product forward. 

Buzzwords used when trying to explain the improved play of the Penguins:

  • Work rate
  • Accountability
  • care factor

It's a plethora of 1980's platitudes for 'I don't know how to explain it', and it is so frustrating. Simple graphs at intermission will show the difference before and after the change. 

The Penguins have become a more offensively aggressive team, the d men are asked to move the puck quickly with control either via a pass or skating, but in control. Sullivan has put faith and trust back with the players to be who they are; highly skilled players who make plays. I hate to quote Tortorella but "safe is death" and it was for this Penguins team. 

2016 01 08 CFLine

2016 01 08 CFBar

Rivalry night is the showcase game for the week for NBC, it is a national audience and a chance to educate the audience and help improve their understanding of what is happening. Throw a quick graph up and then show in game examples of an aggressive pinch or a defender skating the puck out of the zone rather than using the glass to highlight where the differences are coming on the ice.  

Buzzwords used when trying to explain the poor play before the change in coach:

  • tentative
  • no speed
  • lacking in confidence
  • defensive
  • no discipline

The reality is Johnston changed his system from this year to last year. After losing players who can move the puck well by foot or passing he did not trust his defensive pairings to do their job. Thus he had his centers come much deeper into the zone to help out and players were told to make the safe play, not the offensive play, he was risk adverse as a coach this season. The issue with this change of system is it took away the best parts of the Penguins best players.

2016 01 08 CALine

2016 01 08 CABar

The whole idea of of changing the system for Pittsburgh this year was to be better defensively, well they gave up shots by the bushel (thank you Razor) and couldn't produce any of their own. It ends up with a poor net negative effect on a team who used to have the puck an awful lot of the time. 

2016 01 08 CDiff

All stats grabbed from War on Ice. 

With all the variance that occurs in ice hockey I think I would much rather have 14 more rolls of the dice each game to try and beat the casino, that is what Sullivan has done for this team, given the Penguins more rolls of the dice and the oppsition fewer. 

This information is freely available to anyone, it would not be hard for those covering the game to do the research themselves or be even lazier and have someone else dig up the numbers and get production to generate the graphs. 

Using the graphs on TV is great, it is a visual communication and whilst the graphs are there anyone can overlay a verbal explanation of what corsi for and corsi against mean; provide the context. 

I know I shouldn't let it get to me, but I am sick and tired of broadcasts allowing old hacks of the game to push lazy narratives through the coverage. Honestly I really don't care who played with who at 15 years of age. The ability to recall all the information is amazing, but how is it relevant to teaching viewers what is happening at ice level. Yes you all know who I am pointing the finger at. 

Sportsnet proclaimed we would see a new product in their coverage and presentation of hockey when they outbid CBC for it. 

Well the sets might be great, the staff a little different, but the opinions and how they present them has not changed. Jeff Marek mentioned to Dimitri Filipovic on the PDO Cast there is a deal for 2016 to bring advanced stats to the forefront of their coverage, I really hope they do. 

Hockey is still an old boys club and it is presented as such, fans shouldn't wonder why it is considered the 4th pro sport in the States, it keeps looking backwards to the good old days rather than the awesome future it could have. 

Thanks for reading. 

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