Ranking the NHL's best PP and PK units


In the last post, I discussed special teams plus/minus, my guess at what might be the best way to judge a team’s overall work in man advantages and disadvantages combined. Still, I understand that many people may also want to look at an individual PP or PK unit as well. Next week, I might even “treat” you fine folks to my other creation “True” PP and PK percentage. (I can practically feel your heart racing right now.)

So, here’s the spreadsheet for power play plus minus, which is simply PP goals scored minus SH goals allowed. (Click on the spreadsheet to enlarge it. All stats are taken from pp plus minus nbc.PNG

If anything, I think sheer totals show just how great the Washington Capitals’ PP has been. They lead the league in PP p/m and percentage. Notice that although Montreal has the league’s second highest percentage (23.4%), they received the league’s lowest amount of opportunities (227) and allowed a discouraging 7 SH goals. Second best powerplay in the league? Not according to my numbers. 

Florida’s PP is a real sorry sort with only a +34 despite getting 30 more opportunities than second-worst Ottawa.

One interesting number: Carolina leads the league in PP opportunities with 303. I’d say that’s curious, wouldn’t you? (Does this mean that there’s a pro-Hurricanes, anti-Canadiens conspiracy? Put on the foil hats, crazies.)

After the jump, let’s take a look at the league’s best and worst when it comes to penalty kill plus minus.

First, here’s the spreadsheet. Again, click it to make it bigger. This number is shorthanded goals scored minus powerplay goals allowed. As you may guess, special teams plus/minus is the result of these two numbers.

pk plus minus nbc.PNG

Chicago’s aggressiveness on the kill makes them the number one team, but they also are wise to take few penalties. The New Jersey Devils might be the best at simply avoiding these situations though, because although their PK % isn’t that great (82.3) they’ve been shorthanded less than any team in the league (215). You have to hand it to the Blues, though, as they’ve only allowed 4 more PP goals while being shorthanded 85 more times than the Devils.

Of course, it’s not all good news. The Maple Leafs are the worst in the league with a staggering -66. As many might have guessed, the Capitals need a great PP with all powerplay goals they allow. The Predators are lucky that they don’t take that many penalties, because they’re only shutting down three out of every four (or 75 percent) of the powerplays they face this season.

So, there you have it. Do these stats make you feel any better or worse about your team’s playoff chances (or failed seasons)? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

Leave a comment

When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado

Detroit waives Cleary

Daniel Cleary
Leave a comment

Dan Cleary‘s time as a Red Wing could soon be over.

Detroit placed the veteran forward on waivers Wednesday afternoon, per TSN. The move comes after Cleary signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $950,000 just weeks before training camp, then proceeded to play in four of Detroit’s exhibition contests, scoring two points.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens now.

At 36, Cleary doesn’t have much left in the tank and is coming off a year in which he played just 17 games. But as we noted back in the summer, this seems to all be part of a larger plan.

From the Free Press:

A situation that bears the handprint of former coach Mike Babcock has put the Wings in the position of being honor-bound to keep Cleary, 36, aboard, even as he is coming off a season that saw him play just 17 games, producing two points.

This debacle began two years ago. The Wings had offered Cleary a three-year, $6.25-million contract before he became unrestricted July 1. He declined. The Wings then signed Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson, leaving little space under the salary cap. Then Cleary didn’t sign with anyone. September rolled around. The Flyers offered Cleary a three-year deal for $8.25 million, but Cleary then decided he wanted to stay in Detroit.

He ended up flying to Traverse City, where the Wings already had begun training camp. He met in a hangar with Holland and Babcock. Holland pointed to a near maxed-out budget. Babcock pushed hard for Cleary to be signed. What resulted was a one-year, $1.75-million deal with the understanding the Wings would take into consideration what Cleary left on the Flyers table.

After playing out that $1.75 million deal, Cleary re-signed in Detroit last summer to a one-year, $1.5 million pact — so, essentially, the Wings are now in final year of an unspoken three-year agreement that’s (sorta) aimed at repaying what got left on the table in Philly.

Got all that?

If Cleary gets through waivers, the Wings could send him to AHL Grand Rapids. Since he signed a one-way deal, he’d get his money regardless.

There’s also the option of Babcock and the Leafs claiming Cleary off waivers — a scenario that, as unlikely as it sounds, has already made the rounds on social media.