Which teams’ penalty kill units were the best and worst last season? (Penalty kill +/- in 2010-11)

Earlier tonight, I rolled out the 2010-11 Power Play Plus/Minus numbers as an alternative to the traditional power play percentage stat. Here’s a Cliff Notes explanation of the logic: PP% is misleading because it doesn’t reward teams who score the most goals (just the teams who are most efficient) and there is no penalty for allowing shorthanded goals.

For those reasons, I think “PP +/-” paints a far more accurate picture of which NHL teams had the best and worst power plays. Teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers had better units than many might have realized in 2010-11 while the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche’s PP groups were actually more like double-edged swords.

Re-introducing Penalty Kill Plus/Minus

The league’s measurement of penalty kill units is similarly faulty, which prompts the sister stat Penalty Kill Plus/Minus. Naturally, it might not seem as “elegant” when the best team still has a high “minus” number, but this stat rewards teams who don’t recklessly take penalty after penalty and also gives PK units credit for scoring shorthanded goals, which can provide pivotal moments in games. (Just look at how Jordan Staal’s shorthanded goal seemed to shift momentum during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup finals series against the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.)

Before I reveal the 2010-11 PK Plus/Minus results, here are the rankings for the NHL’s 30 teams according to standard PK percentage. Stat categories include: times shorthanded, power-play goals allowed, penalty kill percentage and shorthanded goals scored.  Note: stats are from the 2010-11 regular season, not the playoffs.

PIT 324 45 86.1 13
WSH 299 43 85.6 7
VAN 312 45 85.6 6
LAK 276 40 85.5 4
NSH 272 41 84.9 5
FLA 267 41 84.6 4
MTL 327 51 84.4 5
TBL 302 49 83.8 1
OTT 294 48 83.7 6
NYR 257 42 83.7 11
NJD 241 40 83.4 3
NYI 310 52 83.2 15
BUF 300 51 83 2
MIN 308 53 82.8 7
PHI 313 54 82.8 13
BOS 265 46 82.6 11
DET 300 53 82.3 5
STL 279 51 81.7 7
ANA 305 57 81.3 7
CAR 272 51 81.2 7
CGY 282 53 81.2 7
CBJ 314 62 80.2 6
DAL 277 55 80.1 10
SJS 274 56 79.6 6
CHI 255 53 79.2 6
PHX 296 64 78.4 5
ATL 285 64 77.5 6
TOR 275 62 77.4 5
EDM 321 74 77 8
COL 314 75 76.1 8


Now let’s look at how teams looked according to Penalty Kill Plus/Minus. Stat categories include: times shorthanded, power-play goals allowed and penalty kill plus/minus.

NYR 257 42 11 -31
PIT 324 45 13 -32
BOS 265 46 11 -35
WSH 299 43 7 -36
LAK 276 40 4 -36
NSH 272 41 5 -36
FLA 267 41 4 -37
NJD 241 40 3 -37
NYI 310 52 15 -37
VAN 312 45 6 -39
PHI 313 54 13 -41
OTT 294 48 6 -42
STL 279 51 7 -44
CAR 272 51 7 -44
DAL 277 55 10 -45
MTL 327 51 5 -46
MIN 308 53 7 -46
CGY 282 53 7 -46
CHI 255 53 6 -47
TBL 302 49 1 -48
DET 300 53 5 -48
BUF 300 51 2 -49
ANA 305 57 7 -50
SJS 274 56 6 -50
CBJ 314 62 6 -56
TOR 275 62 5 -57
ATL 285 64 6 -58
PHX 296 64 5 -59
EDM 321 74 8 -66
COL 314 75 8 -67


Unlike the PP +/- results, the top teams saw some shuffles when you factored in total PP goals allowed and shorthanded goals scored. Here are the most interesting findings.

  • The Rangers went from 10th place to first because they didn’t take many penalties, only allowed 42 PP goals and scored 11 shorthanded. The Bruins climbed from 16th to third place for similar reasons.
  • The Penguins were the only team in the top five to take at least 300 penalties (324), yet they didn’t allow many PP goals and were dangerous shorthanded. Maybe Jack Adams award winner Dan Bylsma might want to put that on his resume …
  • The Canadiens dropped from seventh to being tied for 16th because they took 327 penalties, allowing 51 goals in the process. They also didn’t create a lot of scoring opportunities going the other way, totaling just 5 shorthanded goals.
  • The Lightning dropped from eighth to tied for 20th because they allowed 49 PP goals (302 penalties taken) and only scored one shortie. They definitely didn’t enjoy it when a PK goal was scored either way last season, allowing 16 SHG and scoring just one of their own.
  • Want a snapshot of Colorado’s awful 2010-11 season? They had the league’s worst PP and PK plus/minus totals.


Now that we have power play and penalty kill units covered, the last post will put it all together.

The Buzzer: Schwartz the hero, Gibson blanks Flames, Bruins clinch

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Players of the Night:

Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues: The Blues needed a win on Wednesday. They’ll need a few more still if they’re to push for the playoffs, but Schwartz scored a third-period equalizer and then the overtime winner 30 seconds into the extra frame to keep pace with the Anaheim Ducks (who won) for the second and final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: Gibson posted his third shutout in his past seven starts — and fourth of the season — saving all 29 shots that came his way in a 4-0 triumph of the Calgary Flames.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins: Malkin continued his pursuit of the Hart Trophy, netting a goal and adding an assist for his 41st goal (three back of Alex Ovechkin) and 91st point (three back of Nikita Kucherov).

Highlights of the Night:

Sidney Crosby did a thing – a very nice thing:

Jaden Schwartz, end-to-end to end the game:


Factoids of the Night:


Penguins 5, Canadiens 3

Coyotes 4, Buffalo 1

Blues 2, Bruins 1 (OT)

Ducks 4, Flames 0

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blues move closer to playoffs with OT win; Bruins clinch


Maybe the St. Louis Blues aren’t dead in the water after all.

In fact, despite selling off Paul Stastny at the trade deadline following two brutal loses that were part of a larger free fall at the time, the Blues have found another gear with just weeks left in the NHL season.

The Blues pulled themselves to within one point of the second and final wildcard spot in the Western Conference with a 2-1 overtime win against the depleted Boston Bruins on Wednesday Night Rivalry on the NHL on NBCSN.

The Bruins held the lead for two periods and change before Jaden Schwartz scored mid-way through the third period to tie the game and then 30 seconds into overtime to seal the win and move one-point behind the Anaheim Ducks (who were still in action against the Calgary Flames.)

That’s three straight OT wins for the Blues, who were without Vladimir Tarasenko due to injury.

The point for the Bruins was important, despite the loss, as they have now clinched a playoff spot, moving four points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Atlantic Division lead.

The Bruins were still missing Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Rick Nash on Wednesday, yet still figured out a way to obtain something despite a stacked infirmary.

And part of that help is coming from a surprising place.

Last week at this time, Ryan Donato was a Harvard student, fresh off a five-goal performance at the Olympics for Team USA.

By Sunday, he was still a Harvard student but had signed an entry-level NHL contract with the Boston Bruins. On Monday, still a Havard student and now an NHLer for 24 hours, Donato scored his first NHL goal and added two assists in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

On Tuesday, Donato was back in class — you guessed it — as a Harvard student, an NHL player who had been excused from practice by the team that signed him two days earlier and scored his first NHL goal a night before.

On Wednesday, Donato scored again.

Meanwhile, the NHL could take a deeper look at a second-period hit to the head Brayden Schenn by on David Krejci.

Schenn was handed a two-minute charging penalty on the play, and Krejci stayed in the game, but judging by the above video, there was definite contact to the head and it appears Krejci was fortunate to be able to get up and skate away.

NBCSN’s Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones talked about if Schenn deserves to be suspended for the hit.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Sidney Crosby scores incredible goal, again (video)

AT&T Sportsnet

Oh, Sidney.

Just when you thought you’ve seen everything from Crosby, he has this uncanny knack and making sure you haven’t forgotten who he is and makes sure, once again, that you never will.

Crosby did Crosby things one again on Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. I can save you the explanation of the second-period goal, since it’s pretty incredible and, as a consequence, tough to explain in words.

Let’s roll some of the footage here, shall we?

And another angle:

Carey Price didn’t have a chance.

Crosby has grown pretty good at batting pucks out of mid-air. Poor Antti Niemi:

Remember this from John Tavares?

It was pretty special too and done in similar fashion:

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Panthers hold keys to playoff fate

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Few teams have been hotter than the Florida Panthers down the stretch, something that had to be the case for the Cats to be in the spot they are currently in.

No, they’re not in a playoff spot at the moment — as a Wednesday they sit one point back of the New Jersey Devils for the second and final wildcard spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But a massive game awaits them on Thursday against one of the few teams that have been hotter than them in the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have strung together nine straight wins.

The Panthers hold two games in hand over the Devils, who squandered an opportunity to increase their slim lead in a 6-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. New Jersey has struggled as of late, going 4-6-0 in their past 10, including back-to-back losses now. The Panthers, meanwhile, eviscerated the Ottawa Senators 7-2 to pull within a point of them. Florida is five points back of the Philadelphia Flyers and six points behind their opponents on Thursday in Ohio. To thicken the plot, Florida holds three games in hand on Philly and Columbus.

Since the All-Star break, the Panthers have gone 18-5-1, have scored more 5-on-5 goals than any other team with 35 and are third in expected goals percentage during that time. The Florida Sun-Sentinel also points out that the Panthers have more points since the ASG out of any Eastern Conference team and the great goal differential (plus-27).

With 11 games to go, the Panthers sit in the driver’s seat when it comes to their own playoff fate.

Panthers coach Bob Boughner slightly downplayed the Columbus game in a conference call with the media on Wednesday.

“This time of year, it’s easy for these guys to get up for games, obviously how important they are,” he said. “It’s not going to be nothing over-the-top, extra special than what we normally do to prepare for a team. Obviously, it is an important game, but we have 10 more important games coming in.”

Despite losing key pieces in Jonathan Marchesseault and Reilly Smith over the summer — both are having career years with the Vegas Golden Knights — the current crop for the Panthers appear to have bought into Boughner’s message. And with Roberto Luongo healthy after missing two-and-a-half months with a groin injury, Florida is peaking at the right time.

“I think if you ask the guys, they’re having the time of their lives, having lots of fun,” Boughner said. “Let’s face it, we’ve been playing playoff hockey here for the last couple of months, just trying to dig in and scrape for points every night.”

Coming into Tuesday’s game, Luongo had gone 8-2-1 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage with two shutouts in his past 11 starts — vintage Luongo, who’s been down this road before.

“Lu means everything to our team, obviously,” Boughner said, adding that Luongo will be in the driver’s seat in Florida’s last 11 games.

“He’s going to play a lot of hockey,” he said, saying it will be in the realm of an 80/20 split between Luongo and backup James Reimer.

Boughner said Aleksander Barkov — who has eight goals and 26 points in his past 19 games — is his vote for the Selke Trophy and that Keith Yandle is the glue that helps keep the room together. Evgenii Dadonov, who has 12 goals and 13 assists in his past 19 games, shouldn’t be forgotten.

Boughner said when the team was struggling earlier this season, consistency was the most frustrating part — noting that the team couldn’t string together more than two wins in a row.

“There was too much individual work going on,” he said. “It took us a long time to sort of get the team convinced with sticking with the process and playing as a team… less selfishness and more about the team.”

That changed with a five-game winning streak in the last half of December.

“That’s probably where the light went on,” Boughner said.

It’s burned brightly ever since.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck