NHL's best and worst in special teams plus/minus

At my old blog, I introduced (or at least I think that I introduced) some other ways to look at hockey teams. Much of that focus was on the way the league focuses on percentages to judge a team’s powerplay and penalty kill.

Personally, I think totals matter more than percentages. For one thing, those numbers do not take shorthanded goals into consideration. So, a team that rolls the dice with five forwards on the PP (like Carolina often did in the past) looks better than they should since only the happy goals count. Also, let me ask you: would you rather your team score 2 goals out of 10 opportunities or 1 goal out of four opportunities?

In the next two posts, I’ll throw some of my concoctions at you. The first is my favorite stat of the three: Special Teams Plus/Minus. The formula is so simple I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been used before (so tell me if you’ve seen it); all I do is take the good special teams goals (PP goals for, SH goals for) and subtract them by the bad special teams goals (PP goals against, SH goals against).

Click on the spreadsheet below to see how all 30 teams shape up. I’ll provide some simple analysis after the jump. (Note: these stats are from before tonight’s games andspecial teams plus minus nbc.PNG

So, the top six teams are the only ones to be in the double digits in ST plus/minus (in order): Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Buffalo and Vancouver.

You can see a clear Nicklas Lidstrom effect on the Wings’ powerplay: they’ve scored 51 goals with the man advantage and only allowed one shorthanded goal so far this season. Conversely, the Blackhawks are dangerous to another team’s PP with an impressive 10 shorthanded goals.

Want one number to explain why the Toronto Maple Leafs remain in the NHL outhouse? Their league-low minus-30 ST p/m is lower than than the other worst teams (Edmonton and Florida) combined. The Predators are the best team in the ST p/m’s lower ranks, as they need to be great on 5-on-5 to make up the 12 goals they’ve lost in uneven situations.

So what do you think? Does this stat have some legs? I’ll focus on each team’s PP and PK unit as a whole in the next post.

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    Video: Senators make Penguins pay for penalties with 1-1 goal


    The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

    They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

    Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

    Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

    Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.


    Another big goal from Malkin; another confusing goalie interference review


    The Ottawa Senators are ready for a fight in Game 6, which seemingly means that the Pittsburgh Penguins must grind for space and chances. So far, the Penguins are willing to do just that.

    Being that this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it also means that you need to shrug off setbacks … and the Penguins are doing well in that area, too.

    After a 0-0 first period, it seemed like Trevor Daley scored a “greasy” 1-0 goal, but after a review, it was dismissed because of goalie interference. The crowd’s silent, confused response mirrored many on social media who genuinely don’t know what is or is not interference any longer.

    The Penguins could have sulked after that near-goal. Instead, they just kept chipping away. Evgeni Malkin finally broke the ice – for real – with a gritty 1-0 tally. You can watch that ugly-pretty effort in the video above this post’s headline.

    This marks Malkin’s seventh goal and 24th point of the postseason. No one else has reached 20 yet.


    Colin White makes Senators playoff debut, Penguins lineup the same

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    The Stanley Cup Playoffs often feel like a battle of attrition, which only makes the introduction of fresh faces that much more compelling.

    Try this on for size: with their playoff lives on the line, the Ottawa Senators will see the playoff debut of 2015 first-rounder* Colin White against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. It’s also just his third game at the NHL level, overall.

    After rolling with seven defensemen in Game 5, Guy Boucher is opting for a traditional alignment of 12 forwards and six defensemen.

    White has that high-level pedigree and possibly fresh legs – even just relatively speaking – so it’s not out of the question for the 20-year-old center to make an impact.

    Check out the full roster report here (note: Pittsburgh’s going with the same group as Game 5). Scott Wilson is good to go for the Penguins.

    * – 21st overall.

    Boucher on Senators’ resiliency: ‘We’ve always chosen to fight’


    It’s almost always intriguing to see how a team responds to a tough playoff loss, but that fascination spikes even more if said team fell by an especially lopsided score.

    We’ve seen the Pittsburgh Penguins respond to some blowouts with big wins, but now the shoe is on the other foot; how will the Ottawa Senators rebound from the 7-0 shellacking they suffered in Game 5?

    Well, if you ask Guy Boucher, they’ve developed a track record that shows they’re willing to fight with their backs against the wall.

    Great stuff, right? It’s honestly too bad that Boucher’s defensive system isn’t always as entertaining as his quotes.

    Speaking of how Game 5 feeds into tonight’s Game 6, the video above this post’s headline discusses how Ottawa’s goaltenders might be feeling heading into Tuesday.