Regardless of the advanced statistics, the Columbus Blue Jackets played forward and desperate. The Pittsburgh Penguins defended. At the start of the third period and trailing by one, the Penguins had every reason to push Columbus but it was Columbus which pressured the Penguins and had the better offensive chances. The Penguins faltered 4-1 at Nationwide Arena, Saturday night.
Actually, the Penguins didn’t have much offensive opportunity to mention until midway through the period but could not get enough Grade A chances or beat Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Columbus coach John Tortorella matched his scoring line with Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson against the Penguins Malkin line. The advanced stats argue the Penguins played well and may have had more opportunities. The advanced stats would be wrong. The Penguins pushed in spots but were not able to crack the scoring zone.
Columbus kept the Penguins to the outside. The Penguins didn’t get between the dots, and there was the problem. Take a look at the heatmap from NaturalStatTrick.com
The Columbus hot spot near Murray and the Penguins tepid blue near Bobrovsky tells the story. If the Penguins are reliant on their left side defenseman for shots, they are…in trouble though the heatmap does recognize the aggressive work by Marcus Pettersson.
Murray didn’t think he was as good as everyone else did.
“I made some pretty bad reads, honestly, which is why I had to get desperate on some of those. I was pretty lucky,” Murray said. “Some of the back door plays I was sliding or already down and they passed it around me and I had to get desperate.”
Let Murray think he wasn’t spectacular. The Penguins team defensive wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good enough. The Blue Jackets rush was furious and frenetic. Penguins forwards missed trailing forwards and they too often on the wrong side of the rushers.
A missed opportunity for the Penguins. But you didn’t think this would be easy, did you? The middle of the Eastern Conference is very good, unlike the middle of the West.