Kovacevic: It’s all in the precision for Penguins


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Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel celebrate the latter's goal Sunday night at PPG Paints Arena. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

One of the many mythologies about hockey's advanced analytics is that they're all available to the public.

The truth: Most aren't. And most of those that aren't are among the most awesome around.

There's a bit of a backstory I uncovered to the Penguins' 4-2 beating of the previously unbeatable Bruins -- they hadn't lost in regulation since Jan. 19 -- on this Sunday night at PPG Paints Arena, and it had to feel almost as rewarding to all concerned as the outcome itself, almost as comforting as separating by four points from the Canadiens, the East's resident bubble boys.

But first, the front-story:

Yep. Goals were scored. Arms were raised. Mass merriment ensued.

Also, more Matt Murray occurred:

Got all that?

Good, because now here's what came before ...

In the aftermath of splitting two terribly taxing games against the Blue Jackets, the last of which came Saturday night in Columbus, Mike Sullivan canceled the next day's morning skate, as he always does. Most of the players with whom I spoke slept in a little, though, "Not too much for me," as Marcus Pettersson worded it. "You get a little wired on any game day."

An athlete can also get a little numb. Not just physically, but mentally. No matter how much they might want to get all wound up again, to switch focus from Blue Jackets to Bruins -- very different opponents with very different styles -- it's not easy, as they'll all attest.

That leaves the greatest challenge, arguably, for the coaches. Because in their world, all 82 games are equal, regardless of the schedule. Their preparation doesn't alter much. They'll study the same amount of video, read the same number of advance reports, discuss the strategies, line combinations and special teams all the same.

So their delivery, by necessity, must be different if it's to be heard, much less acted upon.

On this Sunday afternoon, after the players reported to the arena and went about their standard pregame work, as a couple of the team's veterans told me, Sullivan and his staff had one brief, highly specific point to make about the Bruins, and they did so by citing a single statistic supported by a small video sample.

The point?

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