Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 1/9/14
Joe Vitale   Depth wins championships. It is one of the most overused and overwritten tropes in all of sports, however when it comes to the NHL, it could not be more true. And it’s something that’s been giving the Pittsburgh Penguins problems for quite some time, most notably in the playoffs. Brandon Sutter I’ve said it before, but with the exception of Brandon Sutter, Pittsburgh’s lack of legitimate threats that can chip in offensively when the Crosby and Malkin lines get shut down is, and will continue to remain, the Achilles heel of this team, and if they do not do something to rectify the situation in the next few months, many fear that another collapse much like the one we saw against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals last season could become a recurring nightmare. But just how underwhelming have Pittsburgh’s depth forwards been?  Let’s take a look. I’ll start off with the obvious: goals. The Penguins lead one of the most potent offenses in the NHL, having scored a total of 103 even strength goals to date, however when you look at the breakdown of how those goals come, it’s a little alarming.  As they sit right now, the Penguins top line of Crosby, Kunitz and (formerly) Pascal Dupuis, as well as it’s second line of Malkin, Neal, and Jokinen have accounted for 57 of Pittsburgh’s 103 total even-strength goals, according to extraskater.com. When you add in the 13 ES goals scored by defenseman, that brings the grand total to 70, a whopping 69% of total team ES goals.  This also means that Pittsburgh’s bottom six have accounted for only 33 even strength goals in 45 games this year. When you expand the data to include all goals, those number only inflate further. Pittsburgh’s power play is lethal, and their 143 total goals is near the top of the league as well, however of these 143, 94 have come from their top six.  When you add in total goals by defenseman, the sum comes to 115, a whopping 80.4% of total team goals, leaving the bottom six with a meager 19.6 percent of total offense. (Also worth noting, Pittsburgh’s even-strength goal percentage of 72% ranks in the bottom third of the league, at 23rd overall.) Now, some of you may think that this is not that big of a deal.  After all, the top-six should be contributing the most offense, that’s why they’re the top six after all, right?  And you’d be correct, to an extent.  If a bottom six can’t put the puck in the net often but is effective at shutting down over teams top lines, they still have value. However, many of the Penguins bottom-six forwards can not do this very well either, apparently. The following is a chart depicting the Corsi ratings of every bottom-six forward who has played in at lead 2o games for the Penguins this season: Courtesy of behindthenet.ca For those who don’t know, Corsi is an advanced-stats measurement developed by Sabers goaltending coach Jim Corsi.  It takes into account all shots directed at the oppositions net while a particular player is on the ice (shots, saves, blocked shots, deflections, and shots that miss the net completely) and subtracts them from all shots directed at your own net in that same time.  It is a useful measurement of puck possession during a specific shift for that player A Corsi of 5 means that, on average, that team takes five more shots than it gives up when that specific player is on the ice, per 60 minutes of ice time. Likewise, a Corsi of -5 means that it gives up five more shots than it takes with that player on the ice. With that in mind, a quick glance at the even-stregth Corsi for the Penguins bottom six (in blue) reveals that they are, in essence, not good at defending, even though many of them face sone of the weakest lines on the other team. In their defense, injuries and line changes have prevented the Penguin’s depth from fixing any real identity or chemistry together, leaving them as little more than a patchwork of waiver-wire pickups and AHL recalls.  These facts make Pittsburgh’s need for legitimate NHL forwards all the more paramount. Right now, the Penguins are going through the incredibly bad Eastern Conference like hot knife through butter, with a seven point lead over the Bruins for first in the East, as well as an unbelievable fifteen point lead over Philadelphia for first in the Metro-terrible Division, prompting many to see no rush in jumbling up the lines even more with acquisitions, however the NHL trade deadline is March 5th, only one week after the Olympic break ends. Any moves the Pens make to improve their depth need be done sooner rather than later.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Russell Wilson will close down contract negotiations Friday if no deal is in place

Report: Brady authorizes NFLPA to appeal his case in court

NFL, NFLPA reduce Le'Veon Bell suspension

Tim Brown: Cardinals new coach Jen Welter is 'tough as nails'

NFL seeks federal court ruling to confirm Brady’s suspension

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Royals reportedly acquire Ben Zobrist from Athletics

Dallas Cowboys officially release RB Ryan Williams

Hulk Hogan reportedly used homophobic slurs, too

Pettine on Browns GM: We're singing from the same hymnal

Reports: Troy Tulowitzki had no idea he was being traded

Dolphins sign Josh Freeman just four days after cutting him

Penguins trade Brandon Sutter to the Canucks

Ronda Rousey willing to fight Miesha Tate a third time

Mexico fires head coach for alleged airport brawl following Gold Cup win

Jameis Winston: Back at a good weight heading into camp

Shaq on Scottie Pippen beef: 'I don't let bums disrespect me'

Five NFL players who will take a step back in 2015

Jets won't hesitate to bench Geno Smith if he struggles

Jonathan Papelbon will be traded … somewhere

Six players poised for big year after season-ending injuries

‘Mystery pooper’ torments golf course by defecating in holes

Gyllenhaal’s parents made him turn down ‘Mighty Ducks’ role

Eli, Romo channel Rob Lowe in new DirecTV commercials

Penguins News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension, legal battle likely

Cardinals hire first female NFL coach

Larry Bird: Michael Jordan would kill me in 1-on-1 now

Seau family: HOF broke their word

Kobe to see time at power forward next year

Mike Pettine not ruling out Manziel

Galette appears to unload on Payton

Dez Bryant in 'financial distress' before signing new deal

Top 10 CFB coaches on the hot seat

Was Popovich close to retiring last year?

Kyle Busch continues historic run with Brickyard win

WATCH: Mike Trout HR lands in 'Trout Net'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker