The Chicago Blackhawks got the better of the Pittsburgh Penguins in almost every category Saturday night at Soldier Field, winning the NHL Stadium Series finale 5-1.
Inspired by Thomas Drance over at the Score, I attempted to chart every scoring chance each team had, with the hopes of determining who is getting the better of play in the meaningful areas of the ice. Like Drance, I deemed a scoring chance to be whenever a team directs a shot cleanly toward the net from the zone often referred to as the “house” or “home plate” by hockey coaches. (Take a look at the general area here.)
To be a scoring chance, a shot from that area has to get through without getting blocked, unless the defender is deliberately covering for his goaltender. I’m generous with the “house” area when a quick pass precedes the shot, as the goalie and defenders will likely be out of position in those cases. Tipped shots aren’t counted unless it’s an obvious set play.
As you could imagine, the Blackhawks enjoyed a nice edge in scoring chances, which I’ve separated into power play and even strength:
|Penguins||2 (2 at EV)||9 (6 at EV)||7 (5 at EV)||18 (13 at EV)|
|Blackhawks||7 (5 at EV)||10 (6 at EV)||6 (6 at EV)||23 (17 at EV)|
As the shots on goal also indicated, the Penguins were chasing the play often in the early going. They came on late and seemed to adjust to the snowy, slow conditions, but by that time the Blackhawks were content to defend their lead.
Now, here’s the individual breakdown of Penguins opportunities, sorted into chances taken and created. I also included how many were at even strength if a player took part in any power play chances:
|Evgeni Malkin||3||4||7 (5 at EV)|
|James Neal||3||1||4 (2 at EV)|
|Chris Kunitz||2||0||2 (1 at EV)|
|Matt Niskanen||0||2||2 (0 at EV)|
|Brandon Sutter||1||1||2 (1 at EV)|
As you see above, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were eventually effective in generating clean looks at the net, but both – and Malkin in particular – didn’t really get it rolling until the second and third periods. The bottom two forward lines created exactly one chance on their own, with Brandon Sutter setting up Deryk Engelland for a scoring opportunity in the late stages.
For the Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews (five chances taken, three created) and Patrick Kane (three taken, one created) led the parade as expected. Patrick Sharp (three taken, three created) had a strong game on the offensive end, too.
Looking at the possession metrics, Chicago outpaced the Pens 20-10 in total shot attempts with the game in the balance (58-55 for the entire 60 minutes) and had a 50-39 edge in non-blocked attempts overall.