Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Road Record, Statistics Raise Some Alarms

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Road Record, Statistics Raise Some Alarms

Article excerpt

Ask Penguins coach Mike Sullivan about his team's home/road splits, and your answer will likely involve something about how the coaching staff doesn't have two different game plans for playing at PPG Paints Arena and away from it.

It's sound reasoning. It's not like the Penguins get to change the rules at home - other than having last change - or they care less about their vocation in other parts of North America.

But with a sample size that's now quite large at 38 of a possible 41 regular-season games, there are some definite differences with the Penguins when they play away from Pittsburgh.

Those disparities have seemingly ramped up the importance on winning the Metropolitan Division and obtaining home-ice advantage for at least the first two playoff series.

If you haven't noticed, while the Penguins might not devise a different game plan for road games, the results come in stark contrast to the damage they've done at home.

Consider:

* The Penguins are 27-8-1 at home, their wins tied for most in the NHL, compared to 15-19-4 on the road - tied for the fewest road wins among teams in playoff position as of Thursday morning.

* At home, the Penguins are averaging 3.6 goals per game. That number drops to 2.9 on the road. There's a 50-point swing in their overall goal differential at home (plus-34) versus on the road (minus-16).

* The Penguins have suffered nine regulation losses in 2018. Seven of them have come away from PPG Paints Arena.

OK, so why is this happening? And how do the Penguins fix it?

For one, the issues seem tied to how much - and what type - of offense the Penguins are generating.

At home, the Penguins average 29.4 shots on goal per game five-on-five. That falls to 25.3 on the road. In all situations, the Penguins' shots-per-game mark goes from 37.0 to 32.2 home to road.

That's important because their shooting percentages really aren't hugely different - a little over 7 percent five-on-five, around 9 in all situations. But fewer shots on goal with the same success rate means fewer goals.

What about scoring chances? Are the Penguins getting enough, and are they carrying play enough away from home?

No and No. …

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