John Marino has been great so far in the qualifiers

There have been plenty of surprises so far for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early parts of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, and one of the most significant may be playing for defender John Marino in his third year.

His career up to this point has been a whirlpool of surprise, disappointment and question marks. But during the first three games of the series, he played some of the best hockey we’ve seen from him since the junior season.

The numbers so far are staggering.

He’s scored over 60 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey so far and scored the next….

  • Share a shot attempt at 72 percent, with the Penguins outpacing the New York Rangers by 99-39 with him on the ice.
  • 77 percent of expected targets, with penguins having 5.61 to 1.63 advantage.
  • A 73 percent chance share, with the Penguins gaining 50-18 advantage with him on the ice.
  • Share a high-risk 83 percent scoring chance, which is a 25-5 advantage.
  • The Penguins also outnumbered Rangers by 4-2.

Not only are those numbers higher among Penguins defenders so far, not only are they among Penguins players (regardless of position), they are among the best players in the NHL until the start of the playoffs.

He posted those numbers playing important minutes against a Rangers top streak that includes Artemi Banarin.

It’s an important performance, and the penguins are going to need more of it if they’re going to win this series or do any kind of run in the playoffs. Especially if Brian Dumoulin remains on the sidelines.

Marino has been an X-Factor player for the Penguins all season because there is still a lot of difference in his playing style and he has a pretty big contract for the next few years. If he can get back to the level of play we saw from him during the junior season, they have a long-term solution in the top four. But if the discrepancy we’ve seen over the past two seasons is more than that, it becomes a question mark and perhaps a liability under the salary cap.

Marino has been the subject of trade rumors ahead of the trade deadline, but with doubt over Chris Letang’s future with the team after this season, Marino and his development take on even greater importance as he is by and large the only valid defense option they have. contract after this season. At least the only one who can play the top four. Or he has this ability. Maybe not only do they need to keep it, they need it to be good. really good. We haven’t consistently seen enough of this level of play.

This is what makes the start of these qualifiers so important. He was one of their most effective players 5-on-5 and playing at the level Penguins expected when former Jim Rutherford granted him a long-term contract extension.

Marino will probably never be an attacking or letang-type player in terms of goals, assists or total points. But if he’s capable of possession, the scoring opportunity leads a player who defends well and can take the disc out of the area in a transitional period, then that’s still a very valuable player. The question will be whether this is something he can build on in the post-season and beyond, or whether it’s just a brief glimpse.

The good news is that his numbers over the 10 games to close out the regular season are already off in the right direction. The Penguins had a better than 53 percent share of scoring chances and expected goals with him on the ice during that time, which were among his best numbers this season.

They will need more of this from the postseason and in future seasons. Hopefully it’s the start of something for him.

[Data in this post via Natural Stat Trick]

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