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Power Play Plus/Minus: Which teams have the best and worst PP units so far? (October 31)

In case you weren’t following PHT in its first month, I introduced some new special teams stats because I’m not satisfied with the common percentage-based rankings for power plays and penalty kill units.

If you want a quick explanation for why I prefer totals over percentages for special teams stats, consider these facts.

1. Some teams draw more penalties than others, so they might convert less often but score more PP goals overall. Really, isn’t all about how many goals you score, not how “efficient” your power play is?

2. Power play percentage doesn’t factor shorthanded goals allowed, so reckless units are rewarded. Let’s not forget how devastating it can be to allow a goal when you’re on the PP.

Those two facts drove me to create* a few simple stats to provide what I think is a “more complete” picture of which special teams units are the best in the NHL.

First, let’s take a look at the league’s best teams in Power Play Plus/Minus.

Power Play Plus Minus is a very simple stat: simply take power-play goals scored and subtract shorthanded goals allowed. In the spreadsheet below, I also provided games played (since some teams will naturally get more opportunities with more games), power play opportunities, their traditional percentage and then the stats that matter: power-play goals scored, shorthanded goals allowed and power play plus minus. Let’s take a look.

(click to enlarge)

Now, some observations regarding these rankings.

  • Atlanta earns the top spot by having one of the highest PPG totals (13) without giving up a single shorty. Notice that their percentage is a good but not amazing at 23.2.
  • San Jose leads the league in total PP goals (14), but they must be running a high-risk, high-reward system because they’ve already allowed three shorthanded goals.
  • Vancouver‘s PP is deceptively efficient. Although they only scored eight goals, they did so with only 35 opportunities and didn’t allow a SHG yet. Boston, St. Louis, NY Rangers and Ottawa are achieving similarly modest results without shooting themselves in the foot.
  • Colorado owns what might be the sloppiest PP. Their nine goals is solid, but they’ve allowed four shorthanded tallies. Is this a matter of how much a bad game or two can sway such a small sample or is something systematically wrong?
  • Florida, Phoenix and New Jersey share the worst ratios in the league (three PP goals vs. one SHG allowed), but the Devils probably rank as the worst overall because they played 12 games (Phoenix played 10 and Florida only played nine).

So, don’t get me wrong, percentage stats aren’t totally useless, I just think this plus/minus system is a much better way to assess a team’s PP. Later tonight, I’ll provide similar stats for penalty kill units and then wrap it all up with overall special teams plus/minus.

* – At least, I think I created these stats. If you did something like this before I did, let me know in the comments (and provide a link, if you don’t mind).

Oilers recall D-man Oesterle from AHL Condors

EDMONTON, AB - FEBRUARY 23:  Jordan Oesterle #82 of the Edmonton Oilers warms up against the Ottawa Senators on February 23, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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The Edmonton Oilers made a move Sunday, recalling defenseman Jordan Oesterle from the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL.

In 18 games with the Condors this season, the 24-year-old Oesterle has three goals and 11 points.

The decision comes one day after Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson missed Saturday’s contest against the rival Calgary Flames because of a lower-body injury.

While he isn’t a flashy player, Larsson seems to have made a positive impression on the Oilers coaching staff during his first season in Edmonton following last summer’s blockbuster trade involving scoring winger Taylor Hall.

No surprise this development is leading to questions about the health of Larsson, with the Oilers set to begin the second half of a six-game home stand and sitting second in the Pacific Division standings.

Video: Reaves and Boll drop the gloves in heavyweight bout

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Heavyweight fighters Jared Boll and Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves during the second period of Sunday’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.

Those were some thunderous right hands thrown there, both combatants landing their fair share of punches before officials finally intervened.

The Wild sit all alone in top spot of the Central Division

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The Minnesota Wild bested the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, and now sit in sole possession of first place in the Central Division.

Playing the second half of a back-to-back situation that involved travel from Dallas, where Minnesota won Saturday, the Wild fell behind Chicago courtesy two goals from Patrick Kane. Sure, the first goal on Devan Dubnyk was fluttered off the stick of Kane and under the arm of the Minnesota goalie.

But Dubnyk played the remainder of this pivotal game the way Wild fans have become accustomed to since he was acquired. He made 33 saves and was busiest in the second period. Outside of Kane’s second goal, Dubnyk was solid in the middle period and didn’t give up anything the rest of the way. The Wild came back for a 3-2 win. On the road. In hostile territory.

Minnesota, not far removed from a franchise-best 12-game winning streak, now sits at 61 points in 42 games, two points ahead of the Blackhawks and with four fewer games played.

Jason Pominville scored the winner early in the third period.

There are many reasons for the Wild’s success through the first half under coach Bruce Boudreau. Dubnyk’s play has been Vezina caliber. He has a .940 save percentage and a 1.77 goals-against average. Minnesota is second in the league when it comes to the lowest number of goals-against per game and only Washington is better in that category.

The Wild have been scoring plenty, too, fourth in the league with 3.19 goals-for per game, with contributions throughout their lineup.

Free agent signings can always be a risk — an expensive risk — but Eric Staal has rewarded the Wild by producing at just under a point per game rate. He could have his most productive season in several years — at the age of 32 and approaching 1,000 regular season games played.

They won’t have long to enjoy their view from the top.

The Wild host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday to begin a four-game home stand.

More bad news for Bolts: Callahan out four weeks with lower-body injury

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Four points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and about to begin a six-game road trip, the Tampa Bay Lightning face a tough task trying to climb the Eastern Conference standings.

There was more bad news for the Bolts on Sunday.

Forward Ryan Callahan, who hasn’t played since Jan. 7, will miss approximately four weeks because of a lower-body injury, the club announced.

Callahan made his season debut at the end of October. The start to his season was delayed due to the recovery from hip surgery he underwent to fix an issue from last season. Based on a report from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday, Callahan is once again dealing with a hip injury, although the club didn’t elaborate, announcing it as a lower-body injury.

In 18 games this season, Callahan has two goals and four points.

The Bolts, Stanley Cup contenders that have gone deep into the post-season in each of the last two campaigns, are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Right now, Toronto, Ottawa and Florida all sit ahead of the Lightning in the battle for third in the Atlantic. Now into the second half of the season, they will have to quickly get out of this funk in order to close in the post-season race.

“The results are all that matters,” Brian Boyle told the Tampa Bay Times. “We need to change our attitude a little bit, kind of find our mojo, carry ourselves with a little bit more confidence. We can score quick goals. We can come from behind, jump out to leads and bury teams. We’ve done that in the past with this group.”

The Bolts begin this six-game road trip Monday against the L.A. Kings.