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NHL 2012 Playoffs Round 1 Con’t: PIT Versus PHI


This is On Goal Analysis‘ fourth in the series and final Eastern Conference pairing comparison for the NHL’s 2012 Playoff season. Once more, here is what you get in our first round preview:

The Schedule

The 2012 Series

And finally, Comparative Team Stat Analysis (CTSA) against the Hi, Average and Lo of the previous six, post-Lockout Stanley Cup Champions including: Wins; Losses; Points; Conference Seed; Goals For; Goals Against; Goal Differential; Power Play %; Penalty Kill %; Winning Streak; Longest Winning Streak; Losing Streak; Longest Losing Streak; Home and Away Winning %; Wins and Losses in their Last 10 games played; Closing Game Streak; Average Output Per Game by position; and a total Team Point Value.

We will put these up as fast as we can go from East to West and 1st vs 8th seed to 4th vs 5th pairings. Up fourth is the No.4 seed in the East…

PIT vs PHI

…Arguably the most-anticipated matchup in the Conference, who wins the only Eastern intra-divisional matchup and the earliest opened and completed series on the Round 1 schedule? The always-tough Flyers who won the season series? Or maybe the persevering Penguins? Do we just cast a dart to decide? No, not us – we have a go at both teams’ numbers below…

Schedule

Wed, 11 April, 7:30p (ET) PHI at PIT [TSN,NBCSN,RDS,CSN-PH (HD),ROOT (HD)]

Fri, 13 April, 7:30p (ET) PHI at PIT [TSN,NBCSN,RDS,CSN-PH (HD),ROOT (HD)]

Sun, 15 April, 3p (ET) PIT at PHI [NBC, TSN, RDS]

Wed, 18 April, 7:30p (ET) PIT at PHI [TSN,NBCSN,RDS2,ROOT (HD),CSN-PH (HD)]

Fri, 20 April, 7:30p (ET) PIT at PHI [TSN,NBCSN,RDS,CSN-PH (HD),ROOT (HD) if required]

Sun, 22 April, TBD PIT at PHI [TBD – if required]

Tue, 24 April, TBD PIT at PHI [TBD – if required]

2012 Series

Thur, 8 December PIT 2 @ PHI 3 (Philadelphia leads series 1 – 0; Bryzgalov defeats Fleury; PHI goals from Briere, Simmonds and Hartnell; PIT goals from Neal and Malkin; 32 PIMs)

Thur, 29 December PHI 4 @ PIT 2 (Philadelphia leads series 2 – 0; Bobrovsky defeats Fleury; PHI goals from Timonen, Jagr, Read and Talbot; PIT goals from Staal and Kennedy; 14 PIMs)

Sat, 18 February PIT 6 @ PHI 5 (Philadelphia leads series 2 – 1; Fleury defeats Bryzgalov; PIT goals from Cooke (2), Staal, Jeffrey, Dupuis and Neal; PHI goals from Jagr (2), Wellwood and Simmonds; 44 PIMs)

Sun, 18 March PIT 2 @ PHI 3 OT (Philadelphia leads series 3 – 1; Bryzgalov defeats Fleury; PHI goals from Timonen and Hartnell (2); PIT goals from Adams and Malkin; 32 PIMs)

Sun, 1 April PHI 6 @ PIT 4 (Philadelphia leads series 4 – 1; Bobrovsky defeats Fleury; PHI goals from Giroux, Talbot, Simmonds, Voracek (2) and Bourdon; PIT goals from Sullivan (2), Neal and Kunitz; 68 PIMs)

Sat, 1 April PHI 2 @ PIT 4 (Philadelphia wins series 4 – 2; Johnson/Fleury defeat Bobrovsky; PIT goals from Dupuis, Kunitz, Crosby and Malkin; PHI goals from Schenn and Jagr; 61 PIMs)

Key Notes: Both teams have won in each other’s arena this season; both Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky went 2 – 1 against the Penguins; leading PHI goal scorer in this series is Jagr (4); leading PIT goal scorers are Neal and Malkin (3); and an average of 41.83 PIMs per game.

PIT vs PHI CTSA

There is no change to the leading Hi, Avg and Lo numbers from Stanley Cup Finalist (SCF) values as stated in our last post. PIT with the home ice advantage is in black and gold for chart background while PHI is in black text on white background wherever their stats fall within the average range of the post-Lockout SCF teams.

PIT’s Penalty Kill is above averages and the Hi norm for SCF teams. (PIT –1; PHI 0)

The streaks for both teams flip-flop back and forth. PHI’s Average Winning Streak falls below both averages and the Lo norm. Alternatively, PIT’s Longest Winning Streak from late February to mid-March is above averages and the Hi norm. And the Average Losing Streak for PHI – the shortest in the Eastern Conference – is better than averages and the Hi norm. The confusion this may seem to produce nonetheless serves to even both teams out in a Ten Pound Bag Theory manner. (PIT –2; PHI –2)

Both teams’ Winning % at Home and Away fall within average numbers. They seem to indicate the possibility that the series may go down with either an even split of the first four games or PHI taking three of four, followed by home wins to close out. If PHI can take away home advantage with a Road Winning % better than at Home in the first four games, this could be a Flyers’ series in six games. If it makes it to a Game 7 on Pittsburgh ice, the Pens get the nod as series champs.

While both teams were pretty much average over the course of their final 10 games, PIT’s close-out three-game Winning Streak is above averages and the Hi norm for SCF’s. (PIT –3; PHI –2)

The average output by position for 16, final 2011-12 statistical categories indicates:

  • PIT is above average but within the Hi norm at Center and Defenseman on a player–per–game basis (PIT –4; PHI –2)
  • And PIT is below both averages and norms at Right Wing (PIT –5; PHI –2)
  • PHI is above average / below Hi norm at Left Wing, Center and Defense (PIT –5; PHI –3.5)
  • PHI is also above both markers at Right Wing (PIT –5; PHI –4.5)
  • And both teams’ Goaltenders follow every other Eastern Conference team as above both average and Hi norms (PIT –6; PHI –5.5)

If you add up the by–position, per–game averages, PHI leads PIT at every position with an overall 29.361 to 27.293 ranking. These numbers have PHI trailing only the NYR and PIT behind both the Rangers and OTT.

Both teams’ cumulative total points land them with a “B” on their overall report card. But PIT is above average and within Hi norm in the mid–80’s. (PIT –6.5; PHI –5.5)

If the stats, minuses and overall grades weren’t already a bit confusing, PIT also carries a +1 advantage in terms of categories that are both above average and the Hi norm for SCF teams.

Overall, these two teams are closer in comparison than the raw statistics and historical regular season play indicate. Torn, we call this one either PHI in six, or PIT in seven games. We like giving an overall nod to PIT here as their character has shown through the entire season despite injuries. They enter the playoffs relatively healthy and more rested in terms of more games-off for injury. It looks like they are peaking at just the right time.

Summary

In terms of being this season’s Cup winner, the stats say PHI will exit Round 1 defeated, but not without a stiff battle.

By-position analysis gives PHI a slight advantage at both the forward and Goaltender positions and PIT a nod along the blue line. They share a similar PP average, but PIT has the PK advantage meaning they can negate the Flyers’ leads. The question is do the Penguins do so?

How do the Pens win the series? Fleury has to shut the door first and foremost. After that is accomplished, PIT needs to match the Flyers’ grit and push the series deeper to allow their stars more time to find success and wear down PHI. PIT should be looking for a 7th game at home.

And Philly? Get Bryzgalov in his zone, whatever zone it may be. Continue to dominate PIT by–position in terms of statistical output. And shut down either Malkin, Crosby, Neal and/or Letang’s offense – it is likely just one of the four may be enough to topple the Pens. Do that and PHI may get a couple days’ respite before Round 2 begins.

Our overall call is either PHI 4 – 2 or PIT 4 – 3. The tell will be how they split the first four games.

This being the last of four series covered back East, the review of our calls for Round 1 are:

NYR in six or seven

BOS in five or six

NJD in six or seven

And PHI in six or PIT in seven – but if you lean on us hard, we say PIT

The next preview will begin our Western swing. Due to the time it takes to be thorough on this analysis stats pack, we will being with the two, Wednesday night contests before puck drop tomorrow and follow up with the last two pairings before they play on Thursday night…

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